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Abandoning the tour of Hellas, stages 3 & 4.

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The team leader is at the top, if he wants a bottle you get him a bottle, if his chain comes off you wait and bring him back to the front again, he gets the choice draft and first dibs, no worries, he won Liege and he's a nice guy.

Next down the hierarchy come the other riders, as soon as the race is over we do as little as possible until the next stage, we are massaged and our bags are carried for us to our rooms. If we want food it is given to us, if we want water it is there. So for a worker bee like me I constantly switch between servant and diva, in and out of the race.

Today however, I decided to be selfish in the race too.

I've been fighting a losing battle with my powermeter all year. I started behind because of a knee injury and Iíve since realised only this morning that itís highly likely that I now have low iron levels. So instead of training myself fit I've been digging a hole for myself, possibly for quite some time. The race doctor took a look at me for about 3 seconds, specifically at the bit of red flesh you can see under the eye when you pull your cheek down with your index finger. Mine was yellow instead of red, which is a sign of low iron content apparently.

I will need to have a proper blood test to confirm and to see how bad it really is. I canít just go and take iron tablets straight away as itís easy to take too much. At the minimum it will be a week or two off the bike but it could be months if itís really bad. To be honest itís a relief more than anything, the numbers on the SRM were playing games with me, when I covered them up I felt better again but only because I train alone so had no yardstick. Now that I have competed in a race that I know I should do well in and got my arse handed to me it has finally confirmed all my suspicions from the last few weeks. Itís relief more than anything. I abandoned after 50km, having followed a few early attacks and got some bottles for the team, I could have carried on and done the same thing tomorrow but why dig the hole any deeper? My iron levels started increasing the moment I got off the bike and ate some food.

Itís a strange feeling getting dropped and still being able to talk at the same time, Iíve been breathing without difficulty which chucks the hay fever theory out of the window. I was explaining to one guy on the CCN team ďIím getting dropped right now!Ē he was a little surprised. It explains my inability to go into the red for more than a minute before having to slow down for a good while to recover. It explains why I had to stop at the side of the road whilst training the other week. It explains why I haven't got within 30w of my best average power values for intervals between about 3 & 20 minutes, in some cases itís more like 70w. It looks so stupid in hindsight, the signs were not so obvious at the time though.

On stage 3 we had 3 riders in the top ten, stage 4 (today) was won by Roberto, the team tried their best to launch Rebellin on the final climb but it was to no avail, they dropped the whole peloton except for the leader and a few others. He is still in 2nd place at 4 seconds, tomorrow is a flattish stage so it looks unlikely that he will wrestle the GC away. There are time bonuses of 10,6 and 4 seconds for the top 3 on the stage, if he can win and have the current leader come 3rd or lower then he will win.

This stage race has seen the team really ride properly for the first time as a team, it feels a lot like when Pasta Montegrappa Ė Zheroquadro won the tour of Kent last year, it was like clockwork. Itís very disappointing that I played a much smaller part than I could have. The team overall is really happy and I am trying not to upset the balance too much.

Dave,

Some photos of Roberto immediately after his win:





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