Chad Haga blog: Five days of suffering in the Tour de France
It may have only been 5 days of racing, but this week felt every bit as long as the first one. As the stage count increases, so does the proportion of the stage spent suffering, and we did plenty of it in the last two days.
My big goal for the week was the time trial, and I saved as much energy as I could in the days leading up to it. Unfortunately for me, so did all of the GC riders. With the time trial coming after only two weeks of racing and being preceded by a rest day, a sprint day, and a GC “detente” day, the circumstances were far from those that led to my success in the Giro d’Italia.
I faced other challenges, as well: all of my energy savings had placed me near the bottom of the GC standings, which meant I would be one of the first starters. That would normally not be a problem, but the La Course by Tour de France women’s race was on the course in the window that we would normally do our recon ride, so my options were to ride the course or start the race fresh, but not both. My team adapted well, though, and I jumped in the women’s team car for a lap in the morning to see it in person. Then I spent the next couple of hours studying the video I took and committing to memory the line I wanted to take through every corner.
When it came time to race, I pushed aside all thoughts about what my result might be and focused on my effort: just get to the finish line as fast as possible and see what the result is at the end of the day. I started in a sandwich of race favorites, chasing Tony Martin and being chased by Kasper Asgreen, so if I saw either of them during the race I would either be doing very well or very poorly.
My race started just as I hoped, and I was pleased to discover that the corners looked the same on the bike as they did in my visualizations. When I popped out onto the big road after three kilometers and saw Tony Martin just ahead, it took a moment to process how it could be possible so soon, then I immediately disregarded him as another rider out to make the time cut.
When I crossed the finish line with the fastest time, I had no regrets. I didn’t feel that my lack of a pre-ride had made a difference, and I had paced my effort exactly as intended. My time in the hot-seat lasted only 30 seconds, though, broken almost immediately by the Danish machine. As the day wore on, I slowly retreated down the standings, finishing the day just inside the top-20. It was a good ride, to be sure, but not what I had envisioned at the start of the day. After further analysis, my power was on par with my winning ride in Verona, but everybody else simply wasn’t tired enough yet, and the level at the Tour de France is unlike any other race. In the end, I’m happy that I did my best race possible.
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Source: Cycling – Cycling News