Tour du Loir et Cher Stage 1
First stage of a stage race whos characteristics are, as the organisation said, „rain and wind“ and which is mainly totaly flat, was actually not too bad! Talking to my sports director Adriano Baffi after the Belgium race where I already was in a good shape, was good for my moral. He kind of refucused me on my own strength and even told me something like don`t hide behind your team when you are strong, try for yourself. As the serious follower of my website might has realized, the last few weeks I always wrote something about „good shape“ but at the same moment „pulled for...“ or had „bad luck“.
But yesterday I had what you say in Germany, the luck of the hearty (looked up that word) person.
The stage started out really fast because of a very strong backwind so the speed never was under 45km/h. I let two or three attacks pass and then tried myself in attacking. I used the overrun of speed I had coming from the back, launching my attack with at least 10km/h faster as the other guys. Nice attack, but now I was alone, and 180 to go...
Luckily a rider from the Katusha Team came from the back and we started to circulate at 55km/h. The riders in the peloton were still eager to catch us back or jump to us. After 5 k’s a Belgium rider joined us and again after 5k’s a group of three riders also joined us.
We were going like this – I should say, that I was really close to getting dropped, because I was now for about 20 minutes at heartrate 190 and lactate uncountable – for the next 20k’s.
On the blackboard of the escorting motorbike I saw, that another group was coming from behind. We were going for another five k’s and than the group from behind joined us. Again a group of six riders adding up to a total of 12 riders and about 140km to go. I was really happy, when I saw that Alex Pliushin was also in this group. Having a teammate in the breakaway is always good, specially for tactic movement.
Our gap was rising and rising, even tough big teams like Bank BGZ, Whirlpool Author and Bigmat Auber weren’t in the breakaway. At kilometer 110 it even was at 6:35 giving us a good moral but also some riders the thought to stop ridng in formation a saving power. As they saw, that the gap was decreasing again to 5:40, they started to work again.
At the to mountain sprints, Alex made a clever move, accelerating slowly from the front of our group with me behind him keeping the speed constant. He had a gap of 10 meters and therfore took away the motivation of the othe guys to sprint.
Entering the three final circuits I thought attacking would start again. But now the group was working better and better. For some reason, all of the guys wanted to reach the finishline with the biggest possible advance. The first attack was made by a rider from the Giordana Team at seven to the finishline. Guess what, he made it...
Alex told me ten to the finishline, I shouldn’t be doing anything and prepare myself for the sprint. But when I saw the other guys jumping, trying to reach the Giordana rider, it was tickling in my legs...
Anyway, I sat on the very back of the group untill the last corner which was 400 to the finishline. I knew to win the sprint, you need to be at position two or three after the corner. I was at two and the guy in front of me tried to delay the sprint. Then I tried to shift but my shifting wouldn’t work! The bad road surface had the same effect on the DI2 as cobblestones. So I had to sprint in a gear which I found as not perfect... I took fourth place in the sprint and therefore was fifth of the stage!