I knew that waking up at 1am coughing and feeling hot wasn’t quite the best start to the Queen Stage. I started pounding down some vitamin C in hopes that I would put a stop to it early. Waking up in the morning though I knew I was in for a tough day as I was feeling worse. Heading to the stage start I was hoping I would be able to ride into it though and still held hope that this wouldn’t be anything too terrible. It was another hot day though, which wasn’t going to help the situation.
Once the race started I tried to just stay sheltered in the group, but once the attacks started going I didn’t have much in the legs to keep holding any position so I just kept finding my way to the back of the group now in the mode of trying not to get dropped. Around 15 km in as the attacks kept going a small crash happened in front of me, which luckily I didn’t get held up in, but I did lose touch with field after this. My teammate Miguel also lost touch and tried to pull me back up to the field, but after a couple minutes of getting dropped from his wheel I just told him to go on and not waste anytime back here with me. I was hoping to just be able to jump in the caravan and get a quick recovery in and then move up to the field, but with the windy conditions and constant rolling terrain with multiple turns it made it difficult to get much shelter. There would be times that I would get close to the back of the field, but then a pitch in the road would come and I would go straight back to the cars. Luckily, I had my Director Craven in the car with me during this whole ordeal to keep me calm and get me through it. Only fitting though on this day as it seemed that it took the break forever to get established and once it did we were about an hour into the race and I spent 30 or so minutes yo-yo’ing in the cars. But the break finally did go and the race sat up and I made it back to the group.
Once I was back in the group, it really started to hit me with how shit I was feeling. I talked with a couple of teammates and the possibility of myself pulling out in the feed zone started to look more like a realistic option. Once we got to around 50 km into the race I just started counting down the k’s until we would be at 75 km which would be the feed zone and my end to this race.
It was pretty devastating having to pull out of the race, especially after the amount of work I put into the last 6 weeks or so once I found out I was going to be coming down here. This would also be my first DNF in a race since I started back in 2010 so that just adds to the misery. But when your not 100% there is not much you can do, especially down at a race of this level plus the high temperatures. Once I got back to the hotel I spent the next 36 hours in bed with the fever. Whatever this was really knocked me on my ass and it did it quickly. It also took out two other of my teammates with Oscar & Travis and our mechanic Doug. Now its time to head into Stage 8, which is gonna be two days of travel. Hopefully, by the time I get back home I can start coming around and getting ready for the next set of races. Luckily its still only January.
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.