Personally, I have had a pretty rough Giro d'Italia, and after a difficult first week being sick, and a complicated second week, the fatigue is notable.
I’m sure this is how most riders in the race are feeling but its still a very unique sensation when the flag drops two-plus weeks in. The body knows whats coming and just doesn’t want to let you start going hard. After about 10 minutes, things feel better but those first minutes are very strange.
This second week of the Giro was a wild ride. It started with a bang at the Strade Bianchi stage right after the first rest day where we saw a lot of action.
Movistar had a good plan to bring [Marc] Soler into the first sector in the first 10 wheels, and we did, along with three teammates. So Marc, Albert [Torres], Nelson [Oliveira] and I came out of the first sector in a group of about 20, and missing some notable riders like Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo0, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep). So immediately Albert and I started helping Ineos push the tempo on the road sector but the group was able to rejoin from behind after a big effort.
My job then was to last as long as possible because Marc and I ride very similar fits with our bikes, so if there was any problem at all he could jump on my bike without issue. Marc lacked a bit on the final climb and ended up losing a bit of time, but it was an encouraging day for the whole team as we executed well.
The next morning though, things started to go wrong. On our way to Siena before stage 12, our bus broke down in the middle of the road. Our team doctor got out and started directing traffic while we changed in a hurry and grabbed everything we needed for the stage, piling in the team cars and driving the rest of the way. We all made it to the sign-in and began to focus on the 212km ahead of us when things only got worse.
A few kilometres into the race a message comes through the radio that Marc [Soler] had crashed and that we needed to wait up. Meanwhile the race was a full-on fight for the breakaway, and as I was waiting at the back of the group it started to split.
Groups were getting dropped and I started to drift back through the caravan looking for Marc. My teammate Albert was with him and they were already behind the caravan with the medical car getting checked out. For about 30 minutes while our director, the medical team and Marc were trying to figure out if he should continue or not, I was suffering among the team cars. I wasn’t certain whether to stop completely and wait or sit in the group, so I stayed in the middle and spent a ton of energy.
Eventually the medical team advised Marc should probably stop the race and he pulled out, so we had to get back to the group. After two hours of racing, I made it back and was empty, with four hours to go. I began to eat and drink to try and find my way out of the hole, but I couldn’t fuel enough in time before we started hitting the big climbs that littered the second part of the stage.
Barely able to do tempo, I was dropped quickly and soon found myself dead last on course, with 100km to go. I had our second car with me, and our director Chente [García Acosta] who motivated me as I suffered through one of the worst days I’ve ever had on a bike.
Thankfully after six hours, I made it to the finish within the time limit, and was able to continue with the race. It was a day I won’t forget.
Since then, our team’s objectives have had to completely change. Without a leader the only thing left to do is try to win a stage. So, on the mountainous days we give everything to get our climbers Antonio [Pedrero] or Einer [Augusto Rubio] into the break. And on the other days, everyone else. It's always a bit random and hard to predict at the start so we have had mixed results, but with only a few more chances we are going all in.
The days with flat starts and mountainous finishes are the most complicated because the break is selected from pure speed, which is hard for sub-60kg climbers. So we have been trying to launch in pairs, one big guy with a climber on the wheel.
No luck with this novel strategy, yet, haha.
Only stage 18 remains as an opportunity for me at this Giro. It's the longest stage of the race, and could be controlled by the sprint teams that still remain in the race, but I’ll give everything to be in the move that day.
With some luck and some more suffering I can make it to the TT in Milan.
¡Vamos a por ello!
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