With the third stage now in the legs, the Tour of Utah is well and truly in full swing. Today was the 9km individual time trial up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Starting at elevation of 2200m and finishing at 2700m it was sure to be a short, but painful affair.With Paco Mancebo just 2 seconds off the GC lead, there was every opportunity that we could be leading the bike race at the end of the day. In that case, our team plan was for the rest of us further down on the overall standings to ride hard, but not go too deep in order to compromise the legs for the next following stages.
After a good nights sleep on proper mattress, (the first few days accommodations were a little rough) I woke up eager to get the day going. Although I didn’t need to send it super deep into the super pain cave, I was determined to still go through the motions an prepare properly for a hard effort. Upon arrival to the stage start I was once again blown away by the hard working team staff in preparing out tent area. Everything was laid out for the riders to roll in, relax and focus one hundred percent for the race. Our mechanics had done this in the wee early morning hours, well before we arrived. Today I also had the added bonus that Kat would be at the stage, and also hopped in the follow car for my race.
Warming up the legs felt ready to go, and after about 30 minutes on the trainer and a bunch of progressive efforts it was time to roll over to the start house. After too decently long stages I didn’t need to do too much to get the engine going again. My long time coach Ben was floating around there doing his job for UHC, so it was great to have a brief chat and keep me focused not only on the immediate job at hand, but also for the days to come. Coming off the ramp I started pretty hot, perhaps a little too much, but settled back down into a manageable rhythm. The climb was steady at first, but got progressively harder, as did the altitude. Closing in on the last 2km I was starting to dig pretty deep, but had done more than enough to make the 30% time cut for the stage. Mission accomplished.
Unfortunately for the team, Paco didn’t have the day he was hoping for and is now sitting around 2 minutes back on the GC. This changes our game plan for the rest of the week, and I’m super looking forward to being aggressive over the next couple of stages. The lumpy profiles will suit the majority of guys in our team and with a little luck I think a stage win is within our reach.
To finish up, I wanted to make mention of just how awesome it has been to see the number of fans at the start of each stage and out on the roadside. The shouts of encouragement and sheer enthusiasm by the general public for this event has been fantastic. A few photos today and a little video taken by Kat as I rolled off the ramp.