A winning day and it feels like a blur.
These team time trial days are such pressure cookers. They are so drawn out from wake up to bedtime. It’s a huge effort from staff and riders to check all the boxes and execute every step of the process, culminating with the performance on the road where there is no hiding. We see the ultimate test of team power, cohesion, communication and technique. If there were a way to get in sync with these guys as fairly new teammates at 60 km/hour for 20+ minutes on slickened and pothole-ridden roads, we would do it!
Coming into the day, I had to remind myself that I’ve been here before and know what it takes to contribute to a winning TTT effort. While the bike still feels a bit new and this would be the first time lining up in TTT formation with a few of these guys, we had some serious experts in this group. It was a very well-rounded group and overall a deep team. I could see the others reacting and feeding off each other almost on autopilot and I did my best to dive in and trust my instincts too.
The day wasn’t without drama as we had a bit of confusion about our start time. After a bit of scrambling, we got up there and were organized. After that bit of adrenaline, we shot down the ramp and into the tailwind at warp speed. I think it initially made us all wonder how we could keep it up for 20 minutes.
We receive time checks throughout which were encouraging but we knew there would be little to no buffer and every second counted. Coming through the few corners about halfway, I got a couple quick breaths before launching back into the headwind where our turns on the front shortened up and the suffering really began to sink in.
We got some selfless and powerful turns from Damo and Chris inside the final 5 kilometers before they peeled off. Then it was five left and with the fourth guy crossing the line time as the one who counts, so there was no room to burn anyone else.
Flying into the last chicane with just over a kilometer to go, we came out and there was a lady and her dog in the middle of the road! Fortunately, the corner had us on high alert and out of the aero bars. We just missed hitting them and battled home with Whitey yelling in our ear to sprint for the line and fan out. Heppy drove us through the final 500 meters and had the pace so high we were all strung out and glued to his wheel as we got to the finish. Then we heard the awesome news that we had won!
I’ve done Tirreno a few times but was never part of one of BMC’s winning TTT teams here. I was often a reserve during those years. I was even here at the hotel in the days leading up only to then not to start.
To come here with this squad--an awesome group of guys I’m getting to know better by the day---and execute out of the gun is an awesome, awesome feeling and one that is shared equally throughout the team no matter what part of the process or ride you contributed.
We will enjoy having Heppy in the leader’s jersey tomorrow and take each day as it comes. Five very long and demanding road stages coming up over the usual bonkers Italian roads with an exceptionally deep field will keep us on our toes and test all of our early season capabilities.
Race Images: Getty Images