Firstly, I´d like to apologise to anyone who may have wanted to read a report about the Vuelta a España. I wrote some daily updates on my Facebook page, and that´s where I´ll leave things.
I did crash during a wet descent during stage 20 however, which took a nice little chunk out of my left hip and is still taking its time to heal. This impacted my confidence descending in the recent Italian races, which frustratingly makes racing a whole heap more difficult.
With Rigoberto Uran winning Milan-Torino a couple of days earlier, showing great form, our team felt like we had a couple of cards to play with a really good chance to get a result. Once the breakaway was established, no team seemed interested in controlling the gap. We waited, but the breakaway kept on extending their lead to over 11 minutes. It was at this point when Fabrizio asked a couple of us to ride on the front, so I found myself working with Formolo on the front for about an hour to help bring the time back back to a more reasonable 6 minutes.
During a descent at 164km and over 4 hours of racing, I was caught in a split on a descent and our group never saw the race again. I could have stepped off the bike or took a direct route to the finish line, but this was my last race in Europe and my legs didn´t feel too bad. I decided there was nothing wrong with riding for a while longer, and the further I went, the more it made sense to keep going until the finish.
By the time I crossed the finish line, 15 minutes behind winner Vincenzo Nibali, most of the pizza on the bus had been consumed and everyone had already showered and started to pack their bags. Would I have preferred to step off the bike and go straight to the finish? Sure, I thought about it. It would have been easier. But there was motivation, and a sense of accomplishment in the decision to keep going. Maybe it was my youthful enthusiasm, but I also think it´s a good mentality to have.
What happens if you find yourself out the back of a stage during a grand tour, and you´ve become accustomed to stepping off the bike and not finishing a race? Il Lombardia is one of the monuments in cycling, and I was glad to get the opportunity to race it.
This was my last race in Europe for 2017, and all that remains is Japan Cup in a couple of weeks, before my scheduled flight home at the end of October! My parents have sold the house in Eltham, and settlement will occur only a couple of weeks after returning to Australia. It will be hard to say goodbye to the house I grew up in, but one thing is certain – Kinglake will always be my favourite training ride.
As always, thanks for reading 🙂