I was pretty excited going into todays stage. We previewed the last part of the stage earlier this week and it looked like a bit of a good time. It was a shorter stage around 130 km and there was a cat 2 climb at the end which was about 6 km long then a pretty good technical descent down another 7 km and then only 4 km to the finish. I figured there would probably be a small group over the top then a fast descent.
Another hot day as some of us hid under the trees until they started the race then we jumped in behind the group and race on basically from the word go. We were all a bit surprised by the first 25 km or so as it was a super technical up and down basically through a neighborhood. The field was single file as raced for the first 25 minutes and with being towards the back I just moved up a bit here and there around some turns but played it safe. The break finally went after about 30 minutes once we got out of this neighborhood/town we were in and we turned onto the highway and sat up. The next hour or so was pretty mellow but we started picking up the pace again as we came into these two laps we were doing around the lake. Pretty straight forward again just stay in the bunch and out of trouble as we race around the lake, but once we came out we would have to start getting serious as we would be approaching the climb. I found myself right up front coming out of the circuits and holding a good position behind a couple of the World Tour teams up front. But as we started getting closer it just got more chaotic.
Down here with the mix of the World Tour teams that ride up front at a high speed then teams like us who are trying to be up front as well and then all the South American teams and National Teams fighting to be up front, plus some shitty roads & dogs running around it just makes for a damn near chaotic race.
I fell back a bit in the field, so I was looking to get back up front and luckily I had my teammate Oscar with me so he assured me to calm down and that we’ll get back up there and I just started following him around. As the race spread out across the whole road we hopped into the dirt next to the road and moved up to the front, kind of sketchy. As soon as we moved up front on the left side of the field a crash happened which took out a ton of guys, including two of my teammates.
After this we finally made out of this village area and onto the race track; yeah they basically have a F1 track in the middle of town here, so we got onto the track and I’m happy with where I’m at up front just behind Movistar and now we’re really going and we cut to the inside of this corner and as we’re turning this nicely placed maybe one foot long curb is just there and I have no where to go but straight into it. Literally came out of no where. So now I’m going over the front of my bike still clipped in and land on the other side and immediately just go into a bit of the fetal position just covering my head hoping nobody is coming to run me over. I lucked out on that part with others going down as well but nobody coming into me. So once the race goes by me I got up, my teammate Miguel stopped to make sure I was okay and I told him I was fine so he went on. I looked down at my bike and my front bars somehow managed to twist a good 45 degrees sideways and had a flat rear wheel. The front wheel was surprisingly fine though after hitting a curb head on. Love them new Mavic wheels. So I waited on the side of the road a couple minutes for the car, but it didn’t come so I started thinking well maybe they missed me and passed me. Either way I needed to get moving so I didn’t miss the time cut. I jumped back on my bike and started going again trying to get used to my new crossed up position. After about 5 minutes or so my car came up after they were attending to Robin in the crash before mine. Robin got my spare bike, so we had to stop pull over and fix my bike. We got the bars back to straight some new wheels and sent me on my way. I had to go pretty hard to make up the time I had lost and once we began the climb I could see the groupetto on the road. I caught up to them and met up with a couple of my teammates and just called it a day as I rode easy the last 15 km of the stage with them into the finish.
On a brighter note though, our new teammate Travis McCabe made it over the top of the climb with the front group of 25 riders and came in 2nd for the sprint passing Sagan right before the line. One rider stayed away from the break to take the win so Travis was second in the sprint, but the fact that he passed Peter was pretty damn cool. We all had a little celebratory shot for that one at the dinner table. Well, next up is our first mountain top finish. Lets hope my extra recovery I got by cruising in the last 20 km will help me out on that climb.
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.