Stage 3 - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

The third stage of the "Volta" Ciclista a Catalunya, A.E. was a cold one, even with the altered route that kept us off the 2000-meter peaks and away from the alleged avalanche zones.


It didn’t do much to tone down this pack of top-notch climbers who were obviously itching to get into some harder climbs.

I got to take on some of those familiar roads around Girona again, but I can definitely say it was the fastest I’ve ever descended off the Col de Bracons!

I didn’t feel as strong as I’d hoped over the final climb but managed to rejoin the front group a few kilometers before the finish. Then a big crash tossed some chaos into the final moments.


Tomorrow’s stage will be a couple notches up from today’s regarding climbing and difficulty. Condition-wise, it will be another frigid one as we climb up to almost 2000 meters followed by a long downhill, which will likely include some icy, watery snow melt before a classic Catalunya finish at La Molina where the ski slopes are open and people will be looking at us wondering what in the world we are doing up there.

📷: Photo Gomez Sport

Stage 2 - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

I have to admit, 11th place is tough. Being that close to top 10 but just outside of it. I keep telling myself that it could be could be 12th.

We kicked off Stage 2 of the "Volta" Ciclista a Catalunya, A.E. with some strong headwinds. Combine that with the fact we all know there are some extremely difficult mountain stages around the corner, and we kept a pretty slow pace for the first few hours.

Things ramped up and got a bit dicey when we hit the crosswinds in the second half of the stage, but the always bending and undulating roads were never the right combo to cause splits, especially considering the teams here are stacked with climbers.


The final five-kilometer climb, which peaked 10 km before the finish, was a big effort on a wide sweeping road and I was once again reminded of the depth of the field at World Tour races. I was punching tickets of riders getting dropped for the final couple kilometers of the climb and digging deep to make it over with the front group.


We planned to help my BMC teammate Danilo Wyss in the sprint, but after seeing he wasn’t there, I thought I could give it a try. A technical final few km had me regretting not studying the roadbook more closely this morning but in my defense, the racebook maps look like they were drawn by a kindergartner, so it ends up being basically virtual recon.


I did my best to position myself and sprint and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th position. The next three days will be a massive load, especially with the frigid temps up in the Pyrenees. There’s talk of about rerouting some stages, but we haven’t heard any official word yet. Now that Spain’s favorite rider is leading the race, I’d say there is a better chance they'll decide to keep us slightly warmer and hopefully safer, but knowing Tejay is climbing great, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

📷 Photo Gomez Sport

Stage 1 - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

The opening stage of the "Volta" Ciclista a Catalunya, A.E. was definitely enjoyable because it was a rare opportunity to race on some familiar roads around my European home in Girona. The spectacular coast sections are some of my favorites, and while we didn’t really have a chance to soak up the views, it's always nice to know where you are and what’s coming next.

Physically, the race rhythm took a bit of an adjustment after spending the past three weeks training. Fortunately, the profile and tactics were in line with this transition. But it only gets hillier, harder, and probably a lot colder from here, so I appreciate today as a good way to start.

📷 Photo Gomez Sport

Stage 5 - Abu Dhabi Tour

Today was the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour and we are bummed we didn't have Rohan bringing home the overall leader's jersey. Aside from just missing some legs on the final climb, there isn’t much we could have done differently.


The first 190 kilometers were flat, but the race wasn't that straightforward. There was wind again. Super strong and always changing winds, so despite riding on the front the whole day, we still got swarmed when fighting for position.


The boys rolling the front did an awesome job, and it was up to Damiano Caruso and me to be there for Rohan on the final climb.


The pace during the first kilometers of the climb was downright savage and I was quickly over my head. I did my best to close a gap for Rohan when I saw guys in front of us starting to explode and after that, I was pretty much toast. I was disappointed I wasn't there for him longer, but that was the best I could do today.

I’m really looking forward to heading back to Girona, riding in some green mountains and hopefully continuing to build my condition.

But first, I have a brutal trip to get there. Already I've clocked almost five hours in the car and five hours on the bike today and my flight to Brussels leaves at 2:45am. From there, I have to recheck my bags to fly to Spain. ....

I have to say, a place races could improve would be streamlining the travel out so athletes can optimize recovery. Looking ahead, my next race is set to be Volta Catalunya, so check back for more race updates. Thanks for following along through this round!

📷 Photo Getty Images / Tim De Waele

Stage 4 - Abu Dhabi Tour

Today's stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour was my first ITT of 2018. I’m happy with my result (finished sixth) and how I rode and executed on a very flat and windy course against a strong World Tour field.


I went into the stage with what I felt was a solid plan after seeing the course a few hours before. I opted to go without a radio so I could focus on my effort. The course wasn’t especially technical, but at race speed, wide-open corners and those sketchy cat-eyes require a bit more ability than the slower-paced recon indicated.

The world champ started a minute behind me, so that lit a bit of fire and caused me to go out a little too quickly. On the longer headwind sections heading back to the finish, I definitely had to fight to hold on.

I was super pumped to see Rohan pull off the big win and BMC Racing Team stack six riders in the top 25!! Such a testament to our collective preparation and all the support the team gives us behind-the-scenes so we can do our best.

Tomorrow is the final stage and it will be brutal. We are doing 190 kilometers of flat racing in the windy desert before tackling a massive climb to finish it off. Clearly, the team is strong so it will come down to managing our resources and making our efforts count. I would love the chance to fight it out on the climb, but priority # 1 will be 'all in' for Rohan!

📷 Photo Getty Images / Tim De Waele

Stage 3 - Abu Dhabi Tour

Stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour was another hot day in the desert with some massive roads. Basically, the only things I remember of note were a few camels and the Abu Dhabi skyline. After yesterday’s splits in the wind, the bunch was definitely more on edge today.

There were a few moments of hectic position fighting and some aggressive wind riding, but it turned out to be defensive, and we barreled into downtown Abu Dhabi for a big bunch finish.

At times, the wide roads were nice because you can always able to move up, but they also become dangerous and a little crazy when 150 riders can move back and forth in four lanes of traffic while going 50 km/hour.

Tomorrow’s time trial will be a big showdown between many of the top TT riders who are here specifically for this stage---for BMC Racing Team, that would be Rohan. Personally, I’m looking forward to the physical test and having the chance to apply a full TT warm up and effort in a race situation. This could be the only ITT I do for a few months....

(📷 might be added later...)

Stage 2 - Abu Dhabi Tour

It never ceases to amaze me what we go through and how hard BMC Racing Team fights for a race to just come back together in the end.

Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour was the perfect example of cycling being a sport that's all about timing and opportunity. You risk losing it all if you aren’t there but it doesn’t necessarily mean you gained anything when the day is done.

Compared to the opening stage, today was “game on” racing. The wind was whipping up and we had many more directional changes, which kept everyone more alert. About 50 kilometers to go, it appeared everyone got the memo that there was a good chance for some crosswind madness so after doing an “out and back” on a man-made peninsula into the ocean, we bombed into a crucial corner at over 60 km/hour and almost immediately everything was blown to pieces.

We were a bit caught out in the position fight and found ourselves quite far back. I put in an effort to move Rohan up as much as possible and he had the legs from there to get into the first split.

Behind, we continued to battle the wind and groups continued to split. Eventually, we turned into more of a tailwind and things calmed down, which saw a significant regrouping of basically the entire peloton as we headed to the final sprint.

Photos potentially later....?

Stage 1 - Abu Dhabi Tour

The opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour was about as mellow as a World Tour race comes. After the long trip here, I enjoyed shaking off the dust a bit and hopefully adjusting to the heat. This type of stage gives us the rare chance to chat with some of our peers. Early in the day, I got the chance to reminisce with Alexander Kristoff about our days as teammates at BMC Racing Team and other races we've overlapped at since then.


To give you an idea about the stage, we raced 58 of the final 60 kilometers in a straight line. The big change was the two turns in the final 2 km.

The course and wind were set up to yield a big bunch sprint, and there was never any doubt it would end that way. The headwind and fresh legs heading into these final bends made it pretty hectic, but we looked after Rohan the best we could and all finished safely in the bunch.


While there wasn't much variety in these desert races, it was interesting to see some terrain variation relative to the other desert countries I’ve raced through in the past. The irrigation and solar systems are unmatched by anything I’ve seen before.

And to cap off the day, congrats to Kristoff for notching a big win in his team's home race!

📷 Photo Getty ImagesTim De Waele

Stage 5 - Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana

Final stage and it started out wet, nasty and cold. The rain stopped falling from the sky, but the road spray made it feel like it was raining from the ground up.

As expected, there was the usual final stage desperation from teams with riders who were empty-handed so far at Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana - VCV.

My teammate Stefan Küng did a great job forcing a strong break of six. Towards the end, the roads proved to be very fast and open, and despite an awesome effort, Küng was caught heading into the final kilometers. We quickly switched to setting things up for my roommate this week, Jurgen.

We did the best we could to position him into the final kms, and he ultimately did some amazing self-positioning and technically savvy riding to launch a boss sprint to take the win.

From my end, I was happy to limit the shivering and wrap up this two-week block of training and racing with BMC Racing Team. It was fun to race with some of these classics guys, who I won’t see again for a few weeks.

I’m heading back to Girona tonight, which is a nice change. This is one of the very few races where I can travel by car! Next up--some recovery, training, and then back at it for the Abu Dhabi Tour in a couple of weeks.

📷 GettyImages/TDWSport

Stage 4 - Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana

Today was brutal. We had a super early start after a few late starts. I’d adjusted to the Spanish schedule, and then they threw a junior race start time at us!


After yesterday’s stage win in the TTT, we were feeling good and ready to tackle the most demanding stage of this year’s Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana - VCV. We were met with windy conditions that yielded an especially aggressive and fast race for the first couple of hours. It was a nonstop fight to stay at the front and out of trouble.

When we reached the more mountainous portion of the stage, the pace was relentless in the group, which caused numerous splits and regroupings.

As we reached the base of the final climb, we had a fairly large field. BMC Racing Team’s powerhouses did an awesome job taking the front, but I was in 5th or 6th position and lost them in a roundabout. On the climb, the pace was ballistic, and I could tell right away that I didn't have the legs to go with the best climbers.


I dug deep and gave everything I had. I committed a full effort all the way to the top. This race has a stacked field of great climbers, and after an extended period off, I'm satisfied with my effort and performance. I don't think I've done a day like today since June 2017 (Dauphine). There's no way to simulate an all-out effort on a final climb after 4.5 hours of demanding racing, so hopefully this will return benefits later this season.

We finished the day with Killian Frankiny taking the best young rider jersey, so massive congrats to my young teammate. He fought his way to a top 10 on an incredibly demanding day.

📷 Photo Gomez Sport/Velon

Stage 3 - Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana

We came to the Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana - VCV with today’s team time trial stage as a primary objective. We prepared well. We were focused and knew this effort set us up not only for this race but also for other goals later this season.


When we woke up, the weather was super nasty and I’ll admit that the thought of doing an “all-in” TTT effort on an already technical course was extremely daunting. But a TTT is a controllable environment and the team decides where to take risks, which is different from a road stage when you are subject to the decisions of the 150 other riders around you.

On the bus and at the start, rumors were flying. As someone who has spent quite a bit of my career being a loud and public voice for safer race conditions, I respect the decision to not count today’s stage towards the GC, but I was very disappointed with how this decision was reached.

From what I know (again…could be rumors), it was a very limited number of riders who were asked to neutralize the race. In my opinion, it was a biased sample and only the riders with something to lose were consulted. In the future, I’d like the peloton to be better represented in decisions like this.

As we approached our start time, the roads started to dry up. We went into the stage aiming for our best ride possible but knew we didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I’m so proud of how our group executed our ride in those conditions, especially with all the added distractions. The effort was intense and we all definitely suffered, but it’s an honor to do it alongside this group of guys. They inspire me to contribute everything I can. It’s satisfying to be part of this win and a great way to start the season.

📷 Photo Gomez Sport

Stage 2 - Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana

Around 40 kilometers from the finish, today’s stage at the Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana - VCV exploded. There was a tough climb with some extremely steep pitches. It was both technically and physically demanding. I was happy to be in good position. The pace was high and when we were near the top, I looked around and saw there were only 15 or so riders with me. That bolstered me a bit.


Then those guys took off. It was a really strong and bold move, and I wasn’t in position to follow them. Sky still had around 5 or so riders, so I thought it was a long shot they’d stay away. There was definitely a home court advantage with two Spaniards and the gap opened quick.

When we reached the flatter final 15-20 km, I contributed to the chase with the plan to set Greg up for a shot at the stage win. We had 5-6 guys trading pulls going all-in and we couldn’t shave much off the lead.

I was frustrated we weren’t able to give Greg a chance for the stage. I dug so deep chasing. It feels like so much wasted energy to commit to an effort like that and not have it work out.


On a positive note, today was the first deep effort I’ve done in 5 months. With the caliber of climbers here, I’m pleased I made a strong selection and still had gas in the tank to chase hard.

Looking to tomorrow’s team time trial, 30 seconds is a lot to bring back on strong teams like Movistar and Astana. It’s a technical TTT, and without a doubt, it will be an extremely physically demanding 24 kilometers. I hope to recover well from today and make a substantial contribution to BMC Racing Team’s ride.


Stage 1 - Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana

First day of racing for the 2018 season and it went well. Thankfully the sun was out for Stage 1 of the Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana - VCV and I was excited to race. Being back in a big bunch of riders was definitely an adjustment, but today was about as smooth as it could go.


The end got pretty messy with strong headwinds, roundabouts and speed bumps. Combine that with nearly 200 fresh, ambitious bike racers (and some that were a little delusional….) and things got sketchy. A few guys hit the deck, but I stayed safe and out of trouble.

As an added bonus, my roomie and new BMC Racing Team Belgian teammate Jürgen Roelandts notched a nice top three!


Tomorrow will be a less predictable and more demanding day of racing with much more climbing including a tough climb about 30 km from the finish. I expect that will shake up the race and most likely narrow down the finishing group. It’ll be a good test at the end.

📷 credit: GomezSport