I knew that my first Grand Tour would be the biggest challenge yet in my career, just logically. But I didn’t quite expect to suffer this much. Well, I suppose I did expect it, but what I didn’t expect is to be suffering with 100-plus kms left, or to be at my limit on a climb with sprinters to my left and right. I’m used to going deep in the final of races when everyone around me is also hurting, but to be drifting backwards through the group on the first climb of the race, has been a new and difficult experience.
Something has been off.
The morning after the opening time trial, I woke up with thick congestion in my nose and my throat burned. I had gotten sick. Not with COVID-19, as I’ve passed five PCRs since the race began and an addition four beforehand, but just a normal old virus.
It didn’t start out as much and the first road stage I felt honestly pretty normal despite the symptoms but as the first week dragged on, and the weather got increasingly worse, so did my symptoms.
On stage 6, after being assured the stage would be sunny and dry, even through the radio mid stage, we hit a major storm, and having been dropped on the middle climb, I descended the long 45km valley alone in a downpour with full body shivers. I had gotten a jacket far too late, and was already soaked on the climb. My body couldn’t warm itself back up again. It was easily the coldest I have ever been on a bike. That night I ran a fever and wasn’t hungry at dinner. That was the peak of it.
But lately I’ve been on the mend. I’ve taken the stages as easy as possible, taking the gruppetto any day that I can. Now all I have is a lingering cough that sounds really bad and produces a lot of mucus, but is worlds better than how I was feeling.
Tuesday’s rest day is much appreciated for me, and hopefully will help my body put this thing away for good. It’s been hard mentally to get so battered in these first 10 stages, but one really good day will make me forget all of it, no doubt.
On the team side, Marc Soler has been super in this first half of the race, and is in a quietly solid 12th on GC, only a minute or so down. It's a great place to be as we get into the real mountains because it allows him the ability to be a bit more incognito, and just maybe he can profit from the Egan [Bernal] versus Remco [Evenepoel] fight one day, as they ride one-two in the overall lead right now. I haven’t been much help other than positioning the guys on the flat thus far, but if I’m feeling myself again I really would like to lend more of a hand to Marc in the mountains.
For now I’m going to enjoy a massage and a 10 a.m. wakeup on Tuesday.
La bella vita.
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