This is a milestone for me. Last year I rode for 5 days with a knee that required
Fast forward a year and a lot of dollars (very few of which have been on carbon, but two pieces of titanium remind me everyday) and I am back in Thailand racing. Now, I had signed up to do age category racing but a few minutes with the boys of the open team made me rethink. A word with Khun Kai and I was now to be #141.
Twice as much as I had planned on.
I am now rolling up an down the classic ToF TT course sans aerobars, without aerohelmet, and no idea what I am doing. A clipped pedal in one of the U turns on warm up reminds me that I love this and boom I am away down the slope trying to keep it steady. First U turn and I am still at 45kmh and feeling fine and then I notice the wind. 38kmh and feeling $$$$ until I hit the second U turn where someone has decided that they will drive there car the wrong way through it -20secs +3 expletives -1wing mirror. If you choose to look at the GC results 20 secs was nothing for me. Boom finished and happy (whilst moaning) ish.
Plan for second stage: Roll out and get our leader in break. Long story short; done. Small issue was that the break came in 2 minutes after a neutralised bunch (Cancellara style neutralised) so a 4-5 minute real gap came down to 2minutes in negotiation. I had felt good though, 5km of leading the bunch round the old town (past confused elephants) maybe there was life in this old dog. GC was with PIerre and so a beer was had. A beer.
Stage three was a “let the top guys fight it out up to the top of the dam at the end of the day” job. Classic ToF. First hour was 40kmh+ and then we had D Christenson and PIerre up the road (with about 10 others). Aim was to eliminate the rest from the GC so cue DC, DM, RB, PB doing a 60kmh dance on the front. Fast enough to discourage breaks, slow enough to give time to the break. The dam was reached at full gas as planned to string everyone out, unfortunately a touch of wheels (Raoul versus Dave Cox) left Raouland Pete on the floor. They lived, and important the work was done: PIerre and Dave Christenson again on the podium.
Stage 4. The problem about holding the yellow jersey is you have to think. Conclusion was to hold peloton together to the 6km 6% climb at 90km. The second part was take it into the hill at full gas. Mission accomplished but that did see us troops have to slog up the MF’ing hill with the trucks roaring past us and doing the Robaix section of the climb without the whiff of Frites and Biere. Still all, finished (with a beer) we deliberated over the time gaps. Sometime later we established that despite an atakei Takei once all was said and done PIerre was 9 whole Swiss seconds clear. the champagne went back on ice as we realised that we would have to work on the last stage.
When one of your two GC riders is not at the dinner the night before it might be worth repeating the stage’s plan at the start. Despite the small concern that we had at the end it was a textbook day. Dave Christenson in break early and keep all three top spots in the bunch. This led to speed and attacks, including one instigated by yours truely. At 3k to go there was not a lot else to do Pete B pulled off a sterling shift at the front and Dave Cox gave it everything to keep the pace high for another 500m. I pulled of the back and rolled in hoping that we had done enough.
Jump to end and we had. Pierre had done his work and I hope we had helped to deliver the victory. Happy to be sitting a handful of spots off the bottom of the GC knowing that I gave my best and did what I needed (well asked to).