March 21, 2012
After a very trying day for the riders and staff we were happy to start today’s stage with some good results from Monday, and a better car order in the caravan. Being car 4 was like waking up on Christmas morning compared to the car 20 position from yesterday! No longer would I have to channel my inner Tanner Foust to service the guys…or so I thought.
Our strategy for today’s stage was to have some fun and get the break-master, Rabou, into the action and see what would go down. This was coupled with watchful eyes on the 10 riders who were either tied with Max or ahead of him on GC, and of course marking Sevilla — as we’re sure we’ll be doing the entire race.
The stage began with a 5km neutral section, then turned straight up. The action started with Cole taking a flier. This move looked promising but it came back when the road decided to increase its gradient at the lead up to the KOM. A group containing Max then launched up the hill. Rabou was the first to bridge up to this group. Once the road leveled off another break was formed going through a dark tunnel. This selection of 8 included Rabou.
Also in this group was a major GC contender, so Sevilla’s team was only going to let the break get so far up the road, so they started chasing hard. At about the 35km mark Cesar had a rear wheel flat. After our mechanic Richard pushed Cesar off, Cesar’s brake stuck. This mechanical was quickly fixed on the move via an acrobatic-like window repair. Getting Cesar back in the group was a 55km adventure from hell: there had been no mention via race radio of the crazy roads that lie ahead. At over 100kph we descended onto a 6 lane highway better designed for an amusement park. It included the typical road furniture and narrow, coned-off lanes for toll booths that we blew through at mach speed.
With Cesar in tow, we could see the caravan in the distance but we were overshadowed by a race Commissar and our “encouragement” for Cesar was not met well by the overzealous Com. Just then, a call over the race radio was made for support in the break — it was for Rabou. I told Cesar to sit tight and we’d be back in a minute to help him back to the caravan. Support was provided to Rabou in the form of topped-off Clean Bottles, and then it was back to the task at hand: rescue mode for Cesar. As we dropped back to again provide “encouragement” for Cesar, we were greeted by Cole’s attentiveness to what had been unfolding. Cole, Cesar and 2 other riders who were off the pace were wildly determined to get back to the peloton: they jumped behind our rear bumper at over a 100kph. Suddenly, Cole decided to stick it and slithered through the caravan like snake out of a slingshot.
With that bit of fun over we moved up to Rabou for a check and to let him know we were going to be gone for awhile so we could tend to David and Phil, who were back in the gruppeto. As we dropped back to the peloton we saw that Cesar was safely back in the fold. We gave him topped of Clean Bottles and repeated our message: we were off to save David and Phil.
We found a place to park and waited for David’s group to come by for a feed. But, as with yesterday, there was no dice with this maneuver. We jumped back in the car and were able to deliver some fresh bottles to David. We then set out to wait for Phil. Stress started to fill the air because we we waited a long while for Phil to appear. Still hurting badly from yesterday’s dramatic crash and re-injured broken ribs, his condition was not too good for another day in the mountains. But Phil is one tough Aussie! At the 90km point we finally got Phil attended to and, at 120kph in the emergency lane, it would take us until the 127km mark before we made it through all the traffic and back to the caravan. Thankfully, race conditions were just the way they were when we went for David and Phil: Rabou was still in the break!
At around the 150km mark the chase group was on the rivet. We shot up to Rabou and filled him in on the aggressive chase, and gave him a Coke. Well, that did it: Rabou attacked the break and quickly put a minute and-a-half on the them. We all thought: This could stick! And sure enough, it did. Rabou out-sprinted two other riders on a steep uphill finish. For those who don’t know Rabou, his favorite word is: “Nice!” That was being said a lot at the stage’s end.
Stage 4 is the Queen Stage and is over 210km long. Wish us luck!
Jason Kriel, Managing Partner, On The Rivet Management
View all articles from this event » Previous page