Tour of California
Ok so I just have to get something off my chest before I go any further with this Amgen Tour of California post.
The buffet sucked.
There, I said it. My first international race was with Drapac in 2014 for the Tour of Utah, and I couldn’t get over the buffet. It was great! So I must admit I was disappointed about the lack of quality buffet food for California. Making the most of a bad situation however, this meant that we ate out a couple of nights. One night we went out to a very nice local Thai restaurant and a few other times at Chipotle. I don’t know why we don’t have such a Mexican fast food chain in Australia, but chipotle is amazing. Fortunately for my next race, we’ll have team chef Sean back with us preparing some amazing meals!
In contrast to the buffet lowlight, California had many highlights, and overall it was a very fun and successful week for the team.
Hearing over race radio that Talansky had won the stage was sweet. Sure, I was 9 minutes back slowly making my way up Mt Baldy and ultimately there was nothing I could do to help him up the climb, but lots was done throughout the week to ensure Talansky had the best chance possible, and finishing 3rd on the overall classification was further consolidation for our hard work.
For me it started poorly on a relatively simple stage 1, where I crashed in the final KM’s where I lost both time and skin. Not being the GC rider this wasn’t a bit deal, but crashing is never optimal for performing at a high level in the proceeding days. I landed on my left side, but it was my right sides that became sore (probably due to overcompensating muscles).
Stage 2 had a group of 4 GC riders get away over a climb without Talansky. Nathan Brown and I had to contribute riding the front of the remaining peloton until about 10km to go where we both blew up. We never saw the 4 leaders again, but we did help minimise time loss, which would come crucial by the end of the week.
Stage 4, and another relatively straightforward bunch sprint turned out to be a stressful finale for our team. With 7km to go, Talanksy punctured his rear wheel. I was following him, and with a similar bike geometry, we immediately pulled over and swapped bikes rather than waiting for the team car. Time was of the essence to ensure he didn’t lose time, as the pace was very fast at this stage. I gave him a push, and was left standing on the roadside. The remaining guys from the team dropped back to successfully pace him back for the same time gap as the finishers, so it was a great job all round.
Stage 5, the baldy stage, saw us climb over 3000m elevation in just 125km of racing, which meant we were either climbing or descending, and it made for a very tough day racing. Just before we made our final descent into the Baldy climb, Talansky had asked for a water and electrolyte mix, and it was my job to drop back to get these for him. Sometimes getting biddons is easy, but when the pace is hard and there are only ~25 riders left, sometimes getting biddons is extremely difficult. It was my nail in the coffin, and the last bit of contribution I could really do for the week.
Besides the racing, there were solid team vibes all week and it was a little bit refreshing to be back in an english speaking country. I caught up with Mr Hofert from Boulder, who was helping out the Lotto Jumbo team. I don’t know how I feel about this conflict of interest, (they did win the race overall), maybe he’ll need help out the Cannondale-Drapac squad in the future. Our RV was better too.
I also can’t recall the last time I went to a concert, so when the opportunity came about to go and see U2 on the Saturday night after the tour finished I didn’t have any hesitations at all saying yes. It was a great evening. I grew up listening to plenty of U2 thanks for Mum and Dad’s music collection at our Holiday house up near Mt Buller. It was a moment to take a step back and smell the roses so to speak, and I think I’ll remember sitting in the Rose Bowl Stadium for a long time.
Being an American registered team and racing in America, this meant that we flew off to Kansas city to pay a visit to the Garmin HQ’s, which hosts over 3,000 employees for a tour of the facilities, Q&A, and a ride with some of the guys. Being a sponsor of the team, it was good to be able to give feedback on the products and also see some plans for upcoming products.
Lastly, it would be remiss of me to not make mention of Phil Gaimon’s cookies throughout the week. Known for his love of cookies, the retired professional cyclist now has 2 entertaining books about cycling along with a ‘Cookie dough’ fondo in California. After winning stage 5, we had a special delivery of gourmet cookies courtesy of Phil on our RV to enjoy. I have to say, I can see why he is all about cookies…
Next up is the Dauphine, which starts in a week from now. The level of racing will no doubt be crazy, as it’s one of the final preparation for GC riders heading over to the Tour de France. I will also be my first time racing up Alpe D’huez, and I am looking forward to that!
As always, thanks for reading,