There had been lots of rumors circulating as to what this prologue was going to be like. It wasn’t in the race bible. It had been added as an afterthought due to the number of race days being cut down. I heard it might be a 1.8 k flat effort at night. Or a 10 k roller. Wurf from Champion Systems was convinced it was 6 kilometers, all uphill. It turned out to be 6 k, out and back. Slightly uphill on the way back.
It was supposed to only be 50 kilometers away and the team was keen on riding there but Craven said no. Good thing because it just so happened the race was about 70 kilometers away and the only team who rode there was Astana and they didn’t perform very well. Good call Thomas!
So we drove instead. Thomas drives the team car which leaves the van in the hands of The Driver. The Driver looks like Bobby Lee from Mad TV. He’s also a bit of a loose cannon. For most of the drive The Driver will let a large 200 foot gap grow between him and the car in front of him. I assume he does this so that he doesn’t have to slam on the car brakes as often (which is a lot). But then, the driver gets all crazy and he suddenly will hit the gas hard, weave through the caravan until he is one of the first cars, and he will fight off people who try and take his place. During the transfer from Shangloo to Xiangyang, The Driver nearly got put into a guard rail by the Chinese team at 60 miles an hour. Its just such a bizarre change in driving and towards the end of the drive to the prologue, it happened. This time though, The Driver went crazy. He started swerving in and out of cars on the right, found it was blocked, so he crossed the double yellow line and went into the oncoming lanes of traffic, dodging back to the right side as oncoming traffic approached. My hands were sweating profusely after a particularly long stint on the wrong side of the road at 160 kilometers an hour. I think Ty was loving it. He simply smiled and made faces at the other teams we passed. It was quite the rush.
Once there, I pulled on my kit and rode the course a few times. Came back, put some oil up the nose to clear all passages, stretched, and waited. I rolled to the line early to just stay in my own thoughts. I was going to not kill it on the way out, but keep a steady tempo, do a good turn around, and try and pick up the speed on the way back. It went well except for the pick up the speed on the way back. I felt myself slowing and with a kilometer and a half to go, I had to pull myself together for the final bit. Whoever says they like time trials is a liar. No way to like those things. But the team did well. Ty finished 12th, Oscar 18th, Joe 19th, and those three results put us 4th in the team GC.
After the race, we saw a Rabobank kid riding by with his shorts all torn up. He had crashed in the turnaround and complained to one of the Aussie kids that the course had been too technical. Oh you Dutchies!
We have some more transfers and some more circuits that will probably end up in sprint finshes coming up in the Tour of China II. But its also a sprint to the end of the season. I am excited about the next week of racing!!