Stage/Finish: Granada › Roquetas de Mar
Distance: 188.7 kilometers - medium mountains
Weather: 98.6F/37C - sunny
Images ©Chris Auld
We knew Stage 5 was a day for the breakaway.
Our directors were laying on the pressure and hype this morning. It’s easy to say “go in the break,” but so much harder to make it happen. It takes legs, timing, and a little luck.
I wanted to give it a try, and eventually I found the right combination of those factors and got in a group of around 25 guys. It was no small feat just being there and took us almost 70 kilometers of twisty and hilly terrain before we had a gap. De Marchi was with me, and every team except Sky and Quick Step had made the move.
Anytime there is a group this big, the shenanigans start early and cohesion is rare. Everyone’s director is telling him to save energy and do the least amount of work. I hate this part of cycling as it turns into a game more than a sport.
With 80 km to go, the splits began. At first, guys would open a gap on a downhill then not want to spend any energy closing it. This sets up counterattacks with guys trying to bridge across. Reset, repeat. It’s the most inefficient way to maintain speed and a time gap. But to be honest, the reason I don’t think I like it is because I’m not very good at it.
Alessandro on the other hand always seems to have magical timing and put himself in the front mix immediately. Although we got close to him, I never saw him again until the finish.
While one may think I had a “free ride” after that, not true. It was the complete opposite trying to control 20+ riders who were all on a mission to get away without me because they knew I wouldn’t be much help trying to bridge the gap.
It was great having Alessandro up there, but personally, it hindered my chances for a strong performance. As we headed into the final climb, I found myself on the worst end of the group with guys who were content to be done racing.
Overall, I’m pretty disappointed. It took things aligning just to get in that group, including Sky being ok with giving us enough gap to stay away. I was feeling strong and capable but really came away empty-handed and quite frustrated, not to mention the significant physical effort that I put out, which will take a few days to rebound from. I hope there are more chances in the coming days and weeks.