Monday, April 18, 2011

Tour of Korea: Bad times, Good times.

I arrived for the Tour of Korea already exhausted after traveling for 30 odd hours across several time zones. After a day to prepare, I was still adjusting to the change.

On paper, stage 1 was a relatively short 100km with a small climb at 40km and another bigger KOM at 60km. In real life, it was a hard race. Everyone had fresh legs and because of the short distance, the pace was high. I held onto the bunch over the first climb which was more brutal than what we first thought, as Jaan and George lost contact. I dropped off at the second climb as 4km at 8.1% was a little too much.. On the descent, I found myself in a small group of around 8 riders. The final 40km was a kick in the groin as we had to ride through head and cross winds all the way to the finish. We picked up a few others along the way and Jaan and George caught up to us to cross the line 13 minutes behind the leaders.

Stage 2 was a daunting 213km with a 5.5km climb after 35mk. Fortunately, it was only an average of 4.3% with a long descent afterward so it was easy to stay with the bunch. A small group broke free at the top of the climb but it was suicidal.The ever-strong team Tabriz controlled the pace and eventually everything came back together with 35km remaining.

The pace went up for the final sprint and with 20km to go I punctured. The peleton was moving at full speed and I had to chase hard for 10km through the cars before catching the back of the peleton again and this is where I finished. Meanwhile, at teh front, Jaan took advantage of the Korean team's lead out train and took a solid 3rd place for teh stage!

Stage 3 was another 203km stage with two small but steepish climbs. At kilometre 2, I found myself in a breakaway of around 10 riders. We opened up a gap of up to 3.30min but it quickly came down a many refused to work. After 70km I was caught at the top of the 1st KOM. For the next 80km I sat in the bunch and hid as best i could from the winds. At 150km, we arrived at the second KOM. I lost contact with the group but was confident of catching them in the long descent. I caught a few riders in the first few corners before coming up behind team mate, Simon, who had suffered the dame fate up the climb. We came into a sharp right hand turn and had a little too much speed. Simon locked up his brakes and skidded toward the outside of the corner. I was just on his outside and was left with no where to go but into the barrier. I locked up my brakes and layed the bike down before sliding under the guard rail. My chainring slammed into a pole, shearing off teeth and bending the chain. I held onto the guard rail until a motorbike marshall helped me back up. My race was over.

Meanwhile, poor Simon was forced to take the last 40km alone into some brutal head winds. He finished 29minutes behind the leader but within the time limit.

Considering the dropp off that was on the other side of the rail, I am pretty lucky. I currently have a nice haemetoma on my leg and am missing some skin. Sleeping was uncomfortable, but the worst part is how bad it stings in the shower!!

On a more positive note... Today I watched stage 4 from the sidelines. It was a shorter 138km stage and with only small climbs, a bunch finish was inevitable. The conditions suited Jaan and we suspected a strong finish from him. We were not wrong!

He lead out from around 300m to go and crossed in first place to take the stage win!!!

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