My first race is now done, the 7-days stage race Tour de San Luis (2.1) in Argentina. It was also the first race together with Endura Racing. As I wrote last time, it wasn’t originally scheduled for me to go here but due to illness of a teammate, I took his place.
The travel was long, with two flights and a long bus-drive, but finally after 26 hours of traveling from Barcelona we arrived in San Luis. The days in San Luis has been good and the weather was warmer than I expected. We had between 32deg and 38deg in the shade every stage and even if I emptied bottle after bottle, I still felt like everything just disappeared.
My legs worked okay in the first days but I didn’t have that racing over-drive like a few others did in the race. But I worked alright, even if I had to dig very deep to stay with the bunch sometimes. I was very positive about the team though, we had one or two riders in every break. The communication also worked well between us, even if it was our first race together, and that is very positive.
The initial stages where very windy and the very first stage was all flat, like I imagine the Tour of Qatar is. But I would learn the hard way that Argentina is far from that; stages two and five had mountain finishes and stage six had two cat.1 climbs, aj aj aj…
How about my own effort in the race? Yes, I had two very good days, when I was pushing hard to test how fast I could go in January; this is my first race ever in January. One of them was the fourth stage, the 20km time trial of Tour of San Luis. We had only one TT-bike with us and Iker Camaño had a nice 10th overall he wanted to hold on to, so I did my TT with extensions and disc wheel on my road bike. I was going flat-out, and even if it was hurting and I was suffering, it felt like I had a good flow. I got eighteenth place, 1min and 17sec behind Xavier Tondo, who won the stage and took the race lead at the same time. But if you want to keep up with those guys – you have to have full equipment.
The second good day I had was the day after the TT, stage 5. It was 162km with a cat.1 mountain-finish up Mirador del Sol. I got in the break of the day with 12 other riders, right from km 0. We made it all the way to the start of the climb with an advantage of two minutes over the pack.
The break exploded at the bottom and there were only six of us left. With four kilometres to go there were just four of us: me, Cristiano Salerno (Liquigas – Cannondale), Leandro Messineo (Team Argentina) and Adrian Palomares (Andalucia). But then Messineo attacked and splitted us and it was more or less one by one up to the finish. I was in third place for a long time but I blew with 1km to go. It was so steep and I just couldn’t go any faster, so Palomares came past me. Messineo won with Salerna at second and Palomares got third. I crossed the line at the top of Mirador del Sol in fourth.
I’m happy with the early performance, even if my form has been a bit up and down during the week. But with some good recovery and more training I hope to be in better shape for the coming races: Tour of Mediterranean, Haut Var and Tour of Murcia. And more importantly, that we as a team will perform even better.
The travel home seems to be taking even longer than before! As I’m writing this I’m still in Madrid, following two flights and a bus-drive. I still have two flights to go. But then I’m home for a few days before I’m off to London and the Endura Racing Team launch in early February at the London Design Museum.