Stage 4 of the "Volta" Ciclista a Catalunya, A.E. was full-on racing into the big Pyrenees Mountains, which are still snowcovered. Fortunately, the sun was out, and the roads were mostly dry.
Tejay and I did a recon of this stage last week, and it was helpful to know all the ups and downs ahead of time. Any stage when the breakaway hasn't gone after the first hour usually becomes an interminable fight. Everyone starts to get the feeling that the next attack could be the one that goes to the line.
I burnt some matches in the second hour making sure we were present in some dangerous splits and bigger groups before my BMC Racing Team teammate Joey finally slipped away with a few others and the home team Movistar calmed things down with their typical stunner stiff tempo.
Climbing the Col de Crueta for over 20 kilometers and into the snowfields was a big effort to stay with the lead group. It’s always mind-blowing how fast and long we can climb and how many guys are still there fighting. It really becomes a battle of wills for most of us while the top contenders comfortably tap away up the climb in relative comfort.
Joey did a big effort to get back to the front group over the top, so we had a full BMC American contingent going into the frantic downhill heading into the final climb. Valverde was up to his usual tricks and got away on the downhill, so Joey and I helped chase to keep Tejay in the game.
We put Tejay in the best position possible going into the final climb and then it was lights out and game over for me after a ballistic first couple kilometers heading up to La Molina.
As a not so interesting but pretty vivid side note, I got whacked in the face by a musette and now I'm sporting a nice bloody swollen lip....
Tomorrow, we continue the high mountain stages into more unchartered territory. We head into the far northwest corner of Catalunya over a demanding 212 km. The morning will come too fast with an early 10 am start after having a comfy 1 pm roll out over the past few days.
I hid from the camera today but here is a glimpse at the day: