Stage/Finish: Mombuey › Ribeira Sacra. Luintra
Distance: 207.8 kilometers - hilly
Weather: 85F/29C - sunny
“Hump day” at the Vuelta, but this race is anything but downhill from here. Stage 11 was the longest of the race and a brute with another 12,000 feet of climbing.
We talk about luck with these breakaway moves all the time, and there is indeed some involved, but there’s clearly skill, courage, and power required, all of which Alessandro had in spades when he pulled off the win.
I tried and tried and tried to put myself in that position with him but it didn’t happen. I was always in the front part of the group as it split and blew to pieces over a two-hour roller coaster of racing from the start. I was up there with Alessandro hunting for the right move, which I thought we had on numerous occasions only to have it all come back together.
On multiple attempts I told myself “all in” and that I didn’t care what happened after that. We would get some separation with a few others only to fizzle out and be pulled back.
By the time we hit a 10-km climb around 100 km in, I was feeling cooked and needed a minute to catch my breath. Desperation in the group was increasing as everyone knew the right move had to happen at any moment. Fortunately, we had three—Dylan, Nico, and Dema-- up there as they went over the top of the climb. It was a fight for the next 100 km due to some GC threats making it in the group.
Now back in the pack, I was suffering, physically spent but even more mentally defeated by the failed attempts. But it was inspiring to hear over the radio how our guys were riding up front.
As I rolled through the final 10 km trying to spin my blown legs out, I could hear Jackson screaming at Alessandro, and I realized he had done it. A quick celebratory toast for Dema’s win and my roomie Joey’s birthday made it a happy albeit late evening.
Back at it today with more technically demanding roads and “undulating” terrain, which I’ll just go ahead and call mountains.