The last week and half will go down as one of the best and also as one
of the most hectic of my life. After almost a year of looking forward to
doing the Volta Tarragona road race in Spain I raced it start to finish and had
a great time throughout.
For the race I was based out of a town south of Barcelona called Salou.
Salou is a nice resort town situated right on the coast of the Mediterranean
and is a hotspot for vacationing British people. It was kind of strange
being in Spain but surrounded by people who don't speak Spanish. The town was
great and the racing was even better. There were 5 stages and each
stage started on the coast, rode inland toward the hills, did some
climbing, then turned around and finished at the coast.
One of the most exciting days for me was stage two where I got into my
first break away. I had been trying to get into a break away at the
previous race in Luxembourg and the first stage in Spain but it is so much more
than just being really strong. You need to have the timing and strategy
Waiting and using your energy to get into the right "move" is
just as important as being strong. I'm by no means great at it yet but
I'm getting there and it worked out in stage 2 that when I looked back, myself
and about 14 other guys had a gap on the main field. Being a newbie in a
break I did a lot of stupid things and my companions were quick to correct me
by pointing and yelling in different languages.
After the first hour I was pretty smooth but by the end I realized I had
made the mistake of working too much to keep the break going. I was tired
where as my teammate Andrew Talansky had played it right by doing enough so
people wouldn't get mad at you for slacking but not so much as to tire himself
As we came to the last 10 km of the race everyone was working hard to
stay away from the peloton, which had organized and was chasing us down.
At 5 km to go I was on the front "pulling", the rest of the guys
coming into the town where we would finish. I come around a corner and
there are a bunch of police officers and race officials blowing whistles and signaling
to slow down, for what I would assume was dangerous road up ahead. I
looked up and only saw a big dip that was wet so I figured it was nothing and
kept my speed up. The guy behind me did the same thing and as I went
under I heard a loud unmistakable crunch, I turned around to see the two guys
right behind me had fallen and I had a bit of a gap.
I didn't spend time looking at who had gone down but just realized I was
in the front alone with 5 km to go. I stood up and started riding as hard
as I possibly could. I thought maybe everyone in my break away had
crashed and that I could solo in for the victory. As I was churning away
all these thoughts kept racing through my mind about who went down, how close
they were to me, exactly how far is 5 km?
Unfortunately at 3 km to go what was left of the break caught up with me
and it was time to start covering attacks from riders who were going to try to
go for the win. We worked together quite well not letting anyone get away
from the group coming into the last kilometer. I was still anxious
because I thought I still had a chance to win as well as my teammate Andrew.
At 500 meters I attacked again and once again tried to ride it in for the win
which didn't work for me. However, it was a perfect set up for my
teammate who was just sitting on the rest of the group waiting for the
opportune moment to launch his attack.
As the group caught me at about 250 meters to go, my teammate went for
it and sprinted to the win. It was awesome, not only had the first
breakaway I had ever been in survived to the end but my teammate got the win - pretty
hard to do much better than that. In addition to getting the stage win, he
moved into first in the general classification category, the yellow jersey,
setting up the rest of a the week for trying to defend it.
Stage 3 was just as exciting because me and one other teammate Carter
Jones rode on the front (pulled the entire peloton) for 100 km of the 130km
stage. Not only did we do all of the work but we rode strongly enough
that no other teams or riders could break away from us. In the end we
kept the yellow jersey, which was HARD but I think we also struck fear into
some of the other riders - at least I'd like to think so.
The rest of the race went well but due to some "extra help"
some hometown heroes received, the team leader ended up in 2nd place in the
overall, still not a bad result.
After a nightmarish flight I'm back home in Utah for the week before
heading out to Canada for Tour de Beauce next week. This year’s trip to
Europe was probably 2million times better than last year’s and I left wanting
to return soon. I can't wait to go back to Europe and can't wait to do
some more road racing!