This morning, while eating breakfast, the mood was a somber one. We were looking pretty tired and the weather outside was not encouraging, with rain. Thankfully the time trial was about 30 miles away and that gave us the hope that at least, the weather would improve.
The time trial course was part of stage 2, so we had an idea of what to expect, and we drove it on the way to the start/finish. A quick check at the start times and we all, slowly, got underway with getting ready for the 10kms time trial.
For the most part, we have raced on really smooth roads, although during stage 2 we were avoiding huge craters!!, and the police presence has kept us safe during each of the stages. So much that today's 10kms course was closed to traffic (more on that later). From the FRESH riders, I was the first to leave, at 9:06 sharp. The two radio stations that have broadcasted each stage of the Vuelta, in its entirity, were introducing each rider as we entered the start tent and the commentators would give the listeners a quick description of each athlete.
10, 9, 8...3..2..1 and off I went, settling into a nice rhythm. Most of you know I'm allergic to time trials, but something today was different. Dave, who's a stronger rider than I, was also on a good day, despite the fact that he didn't use any aero equipment at all. Our stomachs have acted up a bit since we got here, but today, the stars aligned and we were rolling, and fast. Kerry and Glenn started 3 and 4 minutes behind me, and Dave's category had him starting 46 minutes past 9a.
Each kilometer was marked on the road and as the Cervelo reach cruising speed, I spotted my 1 minute man ahead, and not long after that, the Costa Rican KOM was looking at my number (223) dissappear into the distance. At the turn around point, a few people had gathered to see the race. A tight turn, where all the speed was lost, careful around the flagger, out of the saddle and back to full gas. "Breath, relax, it hurts, did I miss the kilometer 6 sign?", the voices in my head started to argue.
Kerry and Glenn were heading towards the turn around point and both looked like were keeping a fast rhythm. When Glenn reached the turn around point, he had the fastest split time and we were told that the last 5kms were "easier".
The voices in my head agreed that it wasn't easier at all, but the pace was kept high and then I rolled over the 1km to go sign, just a little more suffering. I was breathing so hard, people at the finish could hear me coming. Over the line and it was over, no more suffering (at least until tomorrow). Rode by the van and handed my helmet to mom and kept riding to cool down, when I heard the radio announcer, "rider #223, fastest time (so far!)". Made a U turn back to the van and Kerry and Glenn were finishing their efforts. As we were going over each other's ride, it came over the radio: "Executive Bs, FRESH Racing goes 1-2-3" (Manny, Glenn, Kerry). High Fives!!!!!. The podium ceremony was suspended because a storm was approaching as the Masters As were still out on the road.
Dave finished his ride with a time only 3 seconds slower than mine (15:23), but the highlight is that Dave is racing with a Colombian rider who rode the Tour de France three times, the Vuelta a Espana 5 times and the Giro once. You better believe the level is high.
As the event was taking place, a local passenger bus was trying to get through despite the fact that the road was closed. The driver got out and started to argue with the flaggers and that's when a police officer arrived on the scene. He didn't waste anytime asking the driver questions, he just pulled out the handcuffs and made sure the rogue driver knew who was in charge. Justice, Panama style.