By Fred Rodriguez, Acqua & Sapone Professional Cycling Team
It was a long day in the saddle.
A long day, a hot day and a day with a lot of climbing. It was a lot harder than I expected.
We built our strategy for the day on the assumption that the race would be won in a breakaway today. Most of our guys were working hard to get into anything that went and we were always represented when something did go.
Before the start my teammate, Rinaldo Nocentini, came up and said “I’ve already made the deal. There are four or five of us going to go right at the start!”
Of course, our strategy was the pretty much the same as everyone else’s and the speed was very high for the first part of the race – that flat stretch before we hit the hills. We were constantly up around 50 – 55kph.
Every team out there was trying to make sure that they had at least one guy in each break and that means that nothing will go without a big fight. Being a flat race, it was easy to come across. You’d see four or five guys get away, then four or five more would jump across. Then other teams that missed it would get nervous and they’d try to send someone across and the next thing you know, the whole group is there again. That repeated itself over and over during the first three hours, which is why the speed was so high.
It wasn’t until there was a very slight rise in the road that a group finally got away.
The team also sort of gave me something of a wild card today. On occasion, I can still climb okay and they told me that in some ways this was a lot like a World Cup event, so the plan was that if I felt up for it and the group does catch the break then I could try for the win out of the front.
I tried that and spent a bit of energy today. In fact, I stayed up front with the Simoni group until the second-to-last climb, but being more of a sprinter, I kind of wanted to save my legs for Friday, so I drifted to the back of the group going over the top. On the downhill, where I might be able to regain, there were a lot of switchbacks and little chance to move back up. I figured that I might make my way back up on the next GPM, but when I got there, I realized that it was way too steep for that. It was a wall for about 400 meters. I couldn’t make up ground there, so at that point, I decided I wasn’t going to kill myself any further…
I had hopes of doing better than that, thinking that if they caught the break, I could be in there for the sprint at the end. But Sella stayed away.
I shouldn’t have gotten dropped, but I was just too far back on that last climb, so when I got to the bus and heard that he stayed off, I was kind of happy.
He’s an interesting guy. He’s been riding with Giuliano Figueras on Panaria and it seems he’s been learning quite a bit. He is so motivated. You can tell when you see him in the peloton that he is just excited to be here and racing. My teammate Bo Hamburger was up there with him for a while and said the guy was just flying. It was good ride for him.
We’re likely to have another sprint tomorrow. Let’s see how that shakes out.
To keep tabs on Fred Rodriguez’s career, visit FredRodriguez.com.