Known for being green due to regular rain, people had told me to be prepared for bad weather at Pais Vasco, along with some very hard racing. I experienced a little bit of this weather and terrain during the Vuelta a España last year, but fortunately, we were pretty lucky most of the week.
During stage 2, we had a passing shower for 10 minutes over the top of one climb, which actually split the field into two pelotons on the descent. The break away hadn’t gone, so the front of the race was going full gas, and the second group was going full gas. It took a long time, and finally the breakaway established. The front of the race slowed down with a nature break, and then the second group could get back on. The remainder of the day was sunshine, but it highlighted the damage some rain could cause on these roads.
On stage 3 I found myself in the breakaway with a handful of other riders, including Thomas de Gendt who is quite possibly one of the strongest riders IN THE WORLD. We were battling cross headwinds all day, so I found it quite difficult rolling turns with the bigger riders. My average power for the stage was a fair bit higher than my average power for the breakaway at Amstel Gold to give an indication. I was one of the first dropped alongside a few other breakaway companions as De Gendt lifted the pace over a little climb.
During stage 5, Movistar got to the front and started riding over a Category 1 climb halfway through the stage. I managed to average slightly over 360 watts for 20 minutes and was a minute behind the front of the race. The very front of the race only had 20 riders left. They were moving!
On the final day, we got rain forecast from start to finish. It was the queen stage, with no flat roads at all. Within the first 10km, my front wheel hit a clear cat eye on the side of the road, which I didn’t see at all. It caused my front wheel to pop out sideways and then I was lying on the ground. A crash. That was the end of my stage, and the end of my Pais Vasco with a DNF next to my name. It was a shame, as I really wanted to finish and felt like my body was coping well during this tour with the stress.
Mostly my body was fine, but I lost of a bit of skin around my right hip and elbow, along with some other cuts and bruises. The most frustrating part about this was the following travel day to Tenerife. Heading away on a two week altitude-training camp with fresh wounds is not a good way to start, but on the plus side, lying around at altitude has far greater benefits than lying around my apartment in Girona. A few days have passed and the body is still a bit sore, but has shown good signs of healing.
Analyzing these files and putting them in perspective with last years racing has been interesting. TSS numbers of 250, 300, 340, 250 for the road stages 1, 2, 3, 5 respectively were very solid. Digging a little deeper, I realized that some of the 20-30minute power numbers were higher than those I saw during races in 2017. It can be very useful going through TrainingPeaks and it’s Peak Power comparison tool to get these insights and comparisons of data between races. It was good feedback, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite reflect in racing performance.
I am still confident things are heading in the right direction, and that I am in a better place both physically and mentally than this time in 2017. Next up for me is the Tour of Romandie, where hopefully I can build off Pais Vasco and this altitude camp to bring my form to the next level.
As always thanks for reading,