Friday morning started with a 14 km time trial. Traditionally the US national team has done well in this discipline however this TT in particular didn’t go well for any of us. I rode hard but haven’t put the time in on the time trial bike to go really fast in that position, but still it was good to get the first time trial out of the way. Andrew Barkers was the best American in 24th then Charlie Avis 5 seconds behind him then me 14 seconds behind Charlie’s time. The other three US riders rode the race easy to save energy for the afternoon stage.
That afternoon we had another road stage, a 98 km race but this time the course didn’t have as many hills. The race was again really fast but me legs felt good and had no problem staying at the front. I tried a few attacks but the Euros were quick to jump on my wheel. The stage ended in a field spring and everyone finished safely in the pack.
Saturday was the hardest yet most prodigious day on the bike this year. The race started with a 8km climb at 8-12%, however the hardest part was when we crested the summit and the road on top opened up the grass fields where the wind turned into a whipping cross wind. On top the riders that remained where slammed into the gutter by the riders at the front in an effort to drop as many people as possible. After 15km in the fierce wind we started a wicked descent, and reached a max speed of 93kmph. I had never been in such a large group going so fast, and the most astonishing thing was seeing big puffs of smoke rising up from all the riders braking. On a few of the tighter turns I grabbed so much brake that I was sure I was going to go over the bars, but that’s just part of junior racing in Europe, pushing yourself and your equipment to the limit. After the Smokey descent we started another 8km climb this time not as steep but still gaining over 400m. This time up the pack would start dwindling even more, but the top there were around 50riders and four of us Americans. Again on top we were welcomed by a strong crosswind and again we were slammed in the gutter. With 25km till the finish Russia with all 6 of their riders went to the front and put on the gas, coming into the final 5 km all four of us Americans were at the front and in good position. In the final sprint Jacob took 6th and America’s best ever result at the peace race, I finished 17th and god my own personal best. The other two Americans finished in our group, while Austin had a hard day and rolled across a few minutes behind, and Andrews crash on day two finally caught up with him and he did not finish the stage.
There were to be on easy rides to the finish on the final day either, with the general classification still close the day would turn out to be aggressive and another one in the pain cave. The course had one 3km climb at 13% and another more steady 6km climb at 6-8%. We did four laps on the course each pushing the body harder and harder. Every time up the short climb I fought with myself to summit with the leaders. The longer climb proved better for me and I was able to make it over, not easier but without grinding my teeth as hard. Coming into the final lap we again had four Americans in the main group, and after we all pushed ourselves about as hard as we could on the final km’s of the climb we made it over with the main bunch. In the final sprint there was a big crash with less than 1000meters so go, but again we all made it without falling.
In the final classification I finished 30th. It was the longest and hardest race I have ever done but I know that it will make me much stronger for the rest of the year. This weekend we are going east again this time to Frankfurt for a three stage stage race