It’s getting harder to write these reports. Not because the racing is any easier or more boring, but I’m literally so tired now my brain just forgets what happened during the race. Today was another hard day, and I spent half of it alone with my thoughts. The break went very early, and my teammate Jesse went with it, so I was hoping for an easier day. But alas, the number 2 in GC decided to jump across the minute gap, and left the yellow jersey and the Dominican national team in the peloton, which instantly drove the pace up to the limit. I got dropped and caught on through the race caravan three times until about 60km, at which I looked up, saw 4 riders from the yellow jersey team hit the front of the peloton, and moments later I was alone, cracked.
Ah sweet alone time. 50km to go, and I looked back for a group to ride in with. Nobody. Ouch. After about 10km I had recovered enough to not be weaving from delirium, but still nobody behind me. But the race must go on. 30 km to go and I was looking at the soft grass on the side of the road imagining how nice it would feel to go crash in it and be done with everything. I rolled in to the finish alone, still 6 minutes ahead of the final group on the road.
Well as the ever-faithful collateral damage in the GC battle happening at the front, I’m looking forward to another day hanging on the back tomorrow. In other news, of 105 starters of this race, there are 73 of us left.
Stage 7 Strava Link
I’m mad about this one. Lining up to the start I knew this was the day for the breakaway. Tomorrow the break would be going nowhere without the GC, but today the profile seemed ideal for an early move to stick, or at least to go and only have the GC battle bring up a select few in the middle of the race.
When the race started I was ready. I was following move after move, but every time the composition seemed about right, a Dominican or Martinique rider would jump on board, and the next thing you know the field is charging right up your tail. I burned a lot of matches trying to be in the early move, but unlike every other day, it took 30km for the move to finally go. And when it went, I knew it, but my teammate was in it so I had to wait for a ride across, otherwise I’d risk bringing the field with me and thus killing the move with my teammate in it; that’s one of the first rules I ever learned: don’t chase down your teammates. But then a Belgian rider jumped, and I hesitated, thinking the man next to me was moving to jump on his wheel. He didn’t, and when I went I was too late, the Belgian was gone, and so was the break.
I rode in with the pack, not strong enough to follow the inevitable GC attack on the long climb which eventually caught the break. The rest of the day was uneventful, with plenty of climbing to make me regret all the energy I spent in the early part of the day. When we finished, Phil had ended up getting confused in the maze of a finish and missed out on the bunch sprint. In the end, no one was too happy.
Stage 8.1 Strava Link
Now comes the TT, and this one was 15km, longer than the last one. I again planned to gauge my effort to come across in a respectable time but not waste energy. Having not really recovered from the earlier race, but having a moderate sized lunch, I rolled up to the starting line ready for a roughly 30 minute flat interval. I was right about the time, wrong about the profile. As soon as I made the first turn at about 3km in, I hit a wall. And by wall I mean both a literall steep hill but also a wall where my legs suddenly felt heavy, and I realized I should have brought some food.
The course profile they gave us was flat. The course was anything but. With pitches up to 18.5% and total climbing of 240m over only 15km, this course was brutal. When I finished, the first thing I did was head to the food trucks and pick me up an authentic Martinique kebab, which was pretty incredible.
Stage 8.2 Strava Link
This is it, the last day. I’ve made it through blisters, a bit of sickness, back pain, incredible heat and humidity, and hours on hours of saddle time, all for one final shot at racing in the big leagues. Today I was determined to make it in the break. And make it I did. But in the end, 9 days of racing caught up to me, and I cracked on the first big climb, dropping from the break and from the charging peloton. Mind you this was a climb with an average gradient of 12% for a kilometer, but cracking is cracking so matter how hard the climb.
The last 80km of the day my groupetto of 10 riders rolled the 20km finishing circuit at the classic Caribbean pace of attack and relax. This was too much for me, so I showed some American entrepreneurship and rode it at my own pace. Dropped off the back on the flat? No problem, just tempo back on. Dropped off the back before the long climb? No problem, just tempo back on before the descent. This is why I get so confused by these tactics sometimes. If I can keep up with this pack almost entirely on my own and skip out on the brutal surges, imagine how easy it might be to catch back on the peloton if the group decided to actually work together in an appropriate manner? Oh well, questions for another time.
Let’s recap this race now that I’m all done. 1075 km of racing, 14500m of climbing, 32.5 hours, 2032 TSS, 23000 KJ, over 9 days. My form went from +20 to -60 (which is so low if you blow on me I’ll probably disintegrate). Of the 105 starters, 62 finished the race. I ended up 47th in GC, 2 hours down on the leader. I’m tired. And now I have 3 days of rest, then Cascade! Get ready for more race reports, everybody, because this season ain’t over yet.
Stage 9 Strava Link