Tour of San Luis
Hola! Buenos tardes…
The 2.1 Tour of San Luis was a reasonably successful tour for Drapac Professional Cycling Team. However, we were immediately at a slight disadvantage being the only team starting with five riders instead of the allowed six, and would later lose Tim Roe after he was caught up in a crash on stage 2 and had to abandon the race.
I was involved in a pile up on stage 3, and also another crash on stage 4. At the start of stage 5 it felt like I had been hit by a truck. I hadn’t lost too much skin, but there were quite a few bruises and that kind of trauma always makes recovery more difficult. In general, there were lots of crashes during this tour. Everyone on our team came down at least once!
I had aims for potentially sneaking into top 10 on GC at this tour, but that quickly went out the window after the stage 3 crash. My best result was on stage 6, where I finished in 23rd place, +2:48 on the winner of the day. So overall, personally, I didn’t have a good tour.
Speaking of crashes, and if you haven’t seen it, one of the big pile ups happened at the very front of the race, and took saw quite a few big names hit the deck. You can see it here. When this crash happened, I was actually back in the car convoy getting some bidons for teammates. I guess you can have some bad luck racing, but you can definitely have some good luck too! It also meant our team car was right at the front of the convoy to help one or two of our riders get going again. It was a win:win.
Another crazy day was the mountain finish on stage 6. Despite the fact that we had to summit a huge mountain at the end of 160kms, it was the windiest conditions I’ve ever had to contend with. The entire stage wasn’t overly windy until we started climbing. Peter Sagan shared a video of these conditions, you can watch it here. This meant that the descent back down to the team vans was also difficult! Unsurprisingly, I heard a few riders crashed coming down due to wind gusts.
We were treated to some empanadas back in the team van (Spanish pastry filled with a variety of savory ingredients). Delicious! Now that I think about it, the empanadas were probably the only cultural food enlightenment I had all week. But that’s ok. Someone wise once said it’s all about quality over quantity. So if you eat a good quantity of quality empanadas, then you should be very satisfied right? Let’s not talk about the coffee and donuts…
Speaking of enlightenment, San Luis was my first time traveling through South America. It reminded me a little bit of my time spent training in Thailand. The town itself was old and rather dirty in some areas, and felt underdeveloped in many parts. I had a strange appreciation for it. Dogs roamed the streets in numbers similar to those kangaroos found on an early morning out in ‘kangaroo ground’, and thanks to Siesta, most of the time when I found myself in town, everything was closed.
Argentina definitely has loads of beautiful countryside and an intriguing culture. The racing started so late in the day that even the pro’s sometimes questioned a 2pm start for a mountainous 160km stage. But a late start provided the opportunity to see the streets kick into life as people awoke from their afternoon naps and started to head out for work proceeding the siesta. Although my job isn’t to fly overseas and appreciate the culture of foreign countries, it’s definitely one of the biggest perks of the job.
Back to racing, Peter Koning’s win on stage 3 was really awesome. He usually sacrifices himself for others on the team, and this was his first professional win! Jason Lowndes also had a good week, notching up a top 10 and an impressive 3rd place against a quality World Tour sprinting field. Our team was also very happy with our TTT efforts given the circumstances, and with further consideration, losing +2:48 over such a big climb (it took over 50 minutes according to strava) isn’t so bad. I lost a similar amount to Esteban Chaves when I finished 14th in Abu Dhabi (+2:17) for a much shorter climb.
The airport journey was pretty taxing, and I’ve come home with a bit of a cold. It seems to be a pretty common trend. We had to take 3 planes each way, including a few hours stop over in Auckland and Buenos Aires both times. If the team flies with Qantas or a OneWorld associated airline, then we have access to a lounge. But any other flight we do not. It might not seem like much, but having a nice shower, eating some good food, and having somewhere comfortable to stay for a few hours between flights makes a significant difference (and saves everyone lots of money)!! This is something I’m going to do some research on during the next couple of weeks before my next overseas flight.
Lastly, I’ve been continuing with the Spanish learning and I am really enjoying it. The online podcasts and PDF guides I’ve subscribed to are great, but my biggest problem is not being able to practice speaking. I tried in San Luis, but besides saying ‘hello’ locals couldn’t speak any English so once we got past “how are you?”, I was forced into a corner and always had to say “hablas ingles? Yo no hablo espanol…”. (Do you speak English? I do not speak Spanish…) Does anybody have any advice about self-learning a language and improving on pronunciation?
As always thanks for reading!