Stage 1 is finally here. I found out I was doing San Luis maybe 7 weeks or so, and the last 6 weeks I’ve been trying my best to be a good little cyclist with my training, etc, etc. So the 6 weeks go by and it’s time to travel. The travel to come down to San Luis was a bit longer then expected. I was fortunate enough to miss my connection from Houston down to Buenos Aries, and the best part was that there is only one flight a day down to Argentina, so time to hotel it up. Long story short it was a very long 3 days to get down here. Luckily I had Phil Gaimon with me who was in the same boat as me, so at least I wasn’t solo alone for 3 days in airports. I’ve done that, it sucks.
I was a bit worried about the travel and only a couple days at the race before the start to get my legs going again, but it started coming around. We had two days to get some rides in, a team presentation, get used to the 5 hour ahead time change, then boom time to race. The first stage was a 21 km team time trial. The course was an out & back on rolling terrain and on road bikes with clip ons. I did my first TTT just a few months ago at Tour of Alberta and we had a pretty good showing there, but only two of us here were on the Alberta team but either way we feel good as a team to pull out a good TTT.
The field here is pretty damn stacked and by far the strongest field of guys I’ve raced with thus far. With last year being my first year doing the big races with Utah & Alberta I look at this as kind of my third big race with the big boys and having the likes of Tinkoff, Movistar, Astana, etc, etc and they seem to have all brought there big guns here. The best part was is that it was supposedly a “random” pick for the starting order and the last 5 teams to go went; Etixx-Quikstep, us/Holowesko-Citadel, Astana, Tinkoff, and then Movistar. Just kind of sandwiched in there with those guys.
We started with a good effort with Robin Carpenter leading it out and Travis McCabe behind them and then myself. We all kept it really good on the way out with good pulls and Oscar was doing a good job of keeping everyone in check. Once we hit the turn around on the way back we really started to dump everything into it and I could start to tell that we we’re getting a bit tired by the duration of the pulls on the front. The rolling course made it difficult at times because sometimes the skinny guys would be put on the front at the transition of the down hills or maybe the bigger guys would come to the front on the uphills so it was really key to make sure you do your pulls longer or shorter depending on where you ended once you got the front. At about 4 km to go we fell apart a bit and lost Miguel and then it was down to 5 of us. We hit the next kicker and then a gap opened up between us which really hurt us. Also, when doing a TTT being on the front is not the hard part its coming off, then making that effort to get back on the train as it comes by. Once I would do a pull on the front I would come off and then start to count as the riders came by going one, two, three, and once I counted four I would start to accelerate so once the fifth guy came by I could slide into the back of the train easier instead of sprinting back on. So there’s a problem when guys start coming off and don’t say anything because then I would go back and count and then there would be a gap that I wasn’t expecting and I would have to jump back in line and try to fill that gap. That happened with about 3 km to go and unfortunately prolly hurt us a bit more then we liked. So once we got through that little mishap it was only about 2 km to go and it was down hill so at that point we all just went full gas to the line. We stopped the clock at 24:58 which would end up putting us at 11th for the day out of 27 teams. We did an average speed of 50.7 km an hour so yeah we we’re moving out there. All in all, it was a good day and I think everyone is riding pretty well for January. I think if we had some aero road helmets or maybe a bit deeper wheels it could’ve helped us move on the board a bit but I don’t want to start playing that game of oh if only we had this we could’ve done better.
I have footage of the whole race from my GoPro, which I will publish a video of once I get back home and have better internet.
Well, onto the next stage as we really start the racing down here. Should be some good fun.
1st – Etixx-Quickstep 23:53
2nd – Movistar + .08
3rd – Astana +.18
4th – Tinkoff +.24
5th – UnitedHealthcare +.54
6th – AG2R +.56
7th – Delko Marseille +.58
8th – Androni Giocattoli +.59
9th – Cannondale +.59
10th – Drapac +1.00
11th – Holowesko-Citadel +1.05
There were 27 Teams total
Jon Hornbeck, rides professionally for the Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team p|b Hincapie Sportswear Team and is also is the owner of Fast Tours Cycling.