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La Vuelta – week two

Second rest day. I have to say that I am extremely happy about it. It was quite intense racing, especially the last three stages. I took the ITT as an activation before the stages that were coming up. We had a short stage straight after the ITT, with a final short climb, but nothing special happened. The breakaway riders settled for the win and the peloton with the GC riders made it safely and without any shocks to the finish. There I saw that I was still feeling good, as I was always by our team leaders’ side until the finish. Then it was a flat stage where we reached the finish without any problems. After that, we had two extremely difficult stages where we all knew it was going to be hard from start to finish.

The Tourmalet stage was without a meter of flat and from start to finish the pace was extremely high. Unfortunately, Jonas got a puncture on the first long descent, before the Aubisque climb, which is considered a very difficult climb, and we knew the pace would be high on this climb. I had to stop and wait for Jonas on the downhill and bring him back to the main group or to the front of the peloton. It was quite a project because the peloton was stretched out and it was very difficult to get to the front on the descent. Fortunately, the descent had some flat sections, so I was able to overtake the main bunch there and bring Jonas into the first quarter of the peloton by the bottom of the climb. Because I had used quite a bit of energy and because the breakaway hadn’t been worked out yet, I knew that it was going to be very difficult for me on this climb. I kept in contact for 15 minutes and then had an explosion in my legs. I simply had no strength left and I lost contact with the peloton. Nevertheless, job done, Jonas was back in the peloton, and the rest of the guys, especially Robert, did a great job and we finished the stage with Jonas winning, Sepp in second and Primož in third. 100% result for our GC riders.

The next day was no easier. From the start there were attacks and by the first climb, a breakaway group had formed. We wanted to control the race ourselves, but the UAE took the stage into their own hands. They dictated a high pace on the first climb, where I felt great, easily keeping in touch with the first 40 riders, but a technical failure on the descent stopped me. The spoke on my wheel broke and I had to stop and wait for the car to change the bike. As there were many groups of cyclists, the car was not behind us either. I knew I wouldn’t see the first group again as I was too far behind. The team did a great job again and we were all happy, including myself, because I could see that I was feeling great, I just needed some luck to stay longer with the first group.

The last stage before the day off was very much in the escapees’ favor and we knew there would be many attacks. But we didn’t think there would be so many. There were a lot of attacks, GC riders were attacking us, and it was far from an easy stage. We worked very well with the team, taking turns to cover the breakaways and keeping everything under control, so to speak. The breakaway again accounted for the win, and we made it to the finish safely and without any problems. Tired, but happy, because we made it to the second rest day. I took the rest day again calmly, had a good sleep, and did a 1h30min recovery with a few short intervals to keep the body alert. Then rest and prepare for the new week, where it will be decided who will win this Vuelta. So far, I feel great, we are getting along great as a team, we have everything under control and I can’t wait for the new week.

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La Vuelta – week 1

A well-deserved day off has finally arrived. I must say that the first nine stages were very difficult and unpredictable, but I enjoyed every kilometer of the race. We experienced everything. Sun, rain, storms, slippery roads, and wind. We overcame all obstacles together and achieved our goals by the first rest day. Sepp is deservedly in the leader’s jersey, while Primož and Jonas are also at the top.

The team time trial was really stressful. Slippery roads, darkness, and high speeds. There were also some dangerous corners and we were driving at the limit the whole time. It is especially difficult because you have to follow the teammate in front and trust. You have to take a lot of responsibility yourself, so you don’t take the corner too fast. Everything went great, unfortunately, Jonas had a flat tire and we had to wait for him. In the end, we were just happy to make it through the finish line in one piece.

I myself am extremely satisfied with the level I’m at. Everything is going as I planned. More than great actually, considering that a few months ago I couldn’t even walk, let alone think about racing. I’m not very tired, but a day off will come in very handy. Very difficult stages are coming and a lot of work and effort will be required. I hope the weather will be better in the next stages.

My main job here is to take care of Jonas and Primož. I carry water bottles, take care of positioning before the key moments of the race, and try to be with them as long as possible. Sometimes I stay with them for a long time, and sometimes I spend a lot of energy already at the beginning of the race, so it’s difficult to be there in the final. The atmosphere in the team is excellent. We get along really well and everyone does a great job. This can also be seen in our results. I really enjoy racing and it all helps me feel great during the race. I really enjoy it.

Yesterday’s stage was very stressful. We knew it was going to be windy and as a team, we decided not to wait and we launched the action immediately. It’s always better to be ahead than chasing behind. Given that the terrain was hilly, all of our domestiques spent a lot of energy to ensure that our leaders were at the forefront and that they are still in the game for the red shirt. A nervous day, but a successful one for our team.

The days at the race are otherwise quite busy and end late in the evening. First thing in the morning, I drink coffee, then I have my breakfast, and soon the transfer with the team bus to the start follows. Transfers to the start and after the stage are long. Between an hour and an hour and a half. So, we spend three hours a day on the bus. Before the race, we have a team meeting on the bus. After the race, shower, and transfer to the hotel. Then massage and a late dinner, usually between nine and half past ten. We don’t have much time for other things. I usually start watching some movie/series to fall asleep.

In the coming week, there are already very difficult stages on the schedule. I will ride the time trial tomorrow easy to gather and save as much energy as possible to help our leaders in the following days. It’s definitely going to be a tough week, but to be honest, I can’t wait. As long as it’s sunny, it will be a great week. 😎