Sorry for the delay on this one, folks. I wrote a blog entry after the race finished on Sunday, and then my laptop died, so that masterpiece is trapped on what might turn out to be a $1,200 paperweight.
Bissell finished with five dudes at the USA Pro Challenge. We lost our two Kiwis, Jeremy Vennell and Mike Torckler, to crashes in the third stage, and our climber/sprinter (he time trials alright, too), Chris Baldwin to a freak accident in stage 4. It’s weird how empty it felt at the dinner table after they headed home. Jason McCartney said he finished the Vuelta once with three guys left on his team, and a staff-rider ratio of three to one. I bet those three got nice, long massages.
Jason’s the nicest guy on the planet, but he has a thing about eggs: he really hates the powdered fake ones they usually serve us. It’s fun to watch him working his way down the buffet, and then wait for the look on his face when he finds out the eggs are fake again. It’s how you might look if someone told you a loved one died in a fire. Jason’s from Iowa. They take their poultry seriously there.
“Is there any way I could get some real eggs?” He politely asked the server before the fifth stage, more than willing to pay for them from the hotel restaurant, if that’s what it took.
The server talked to the manager, who said he could make some, but it would be 45 minutes. Now, I’ve scrambled eggs a couple times, and it rarely takes longer than half an hour. My guess is that this was their way of saying “yes” for their “customer is always right” policy, without actually having to do it, because of course he wouldn’t want to wait that long. Well, they don’t know Jason McCartney.
“That would be great! Sure, I’ll wait.” Iowa, folks. Iowa. The eggs only took 10 minutes or so. I asked for some peanut butter around the same time, but that’s a whole different story.
The stages were pretty eventful for some guys, not a whole lot for me. I covered breaks early on, passing out bottles and cruising to the finish line. I don’t even really know what went on at the finish, unless I decided to read about it later. Every day my teammates and I had this conversation in the RV after the stage.
“Who won today? Sagan?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yeah, whatever. Probably Sagan.”
After one stage, reporter Dan Wuori put his recorder up to my face.
“Were you surprised with the outcome of the stage today, Phil?”
My answer: “Well uhhh, what was the uhhh, what was the outcome, Dan?”
I might need media training, but we had a laugh.
Pat McCarty said he’s had plenty of interviews in that situation. He’d just say something generic, without even knowing who he was talking about, like this: “Well, it was no surprise to me. It was a tough stage, and you could tell those guys were really motivated today.” Pat’s such a pro.
Speaking of being a pro, stage 6 finished in Fort Collins, McCarty’s new hometown. He said he needed to be in the break for his home crowd, which is easier said than done, giving that half the field wanted to be in the break. Pat did it, though. And Kirk. Five guys on the team and we put two in the break. So there.
The last 30km were tough that day, and then it got even harder when guys started crashing in the middle of the group. You know that moment when bikes and dudes are tumbling around in front of you, and all you can do is squeeze your brakes as hard as you can, so suddenly your bike is totally locked up, and pointed the wrong direction? And at just that moment when the ground is sucking you down, you let off the brakes, your momentum puts you upright again, you miraculously find a hole through all the carnage, and then you’re suddenly back in the group, like nothing ever happened? Maybe that’s never happened to you, but I had one that day.
I don’t think anyone crashed during Sunday’s circuit race in Denver. The only pain there was from the giant potholes, which wreaked havoc on my wrist. Last race of the year, so I have plenty of time to let that heal. Who won the circuit race? I don’t know. Whatever. Probably Sagan.