Chad Haga blog: Joy, relief, and grief in Verona
As the final week of the Giro d'Italia ticked by, I tried to make a note of things I could write about in my final blog about the race. Aside from the bone-chilling descent off the Mortirolo and an exciting ‘will they/won’t they’ breakaway finale, I wasn’t left with much. But then, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now, I had a pretty special day in Verona.
For two weeks – ever since the time trial on stage 9 went so well for me – I had been counting down the days until Verona.
I helped my teammates where I could as they continued to fight for breakaway success, but every time the race started to explode, I jumped on the gruppetto train rather than go into the red. It’s not exciting, and it’s definitely a gamble to pass up opportunities, but I was committed to my choice.
That’s not to say that I had an easy ride… The Giro d’Italia is anything but easy, and I actually suffered quite a lot; with the mindset of saving my legs, every effort hurt doubly because I didn’t want to hurt. I had my doubts at times. I wondered how much I was really saving, and whether guys like Roglic would be as tired as I needed them to be by the time they rolled down the start ramp.
With just five climbs between me and the time trial, I started stage 20 prepared to suffer. We hit the first climb and the race immediately exploded, but I found myself cruising past dropped riders, not even feeling the effort. “Whoa,” I thought, as I realized that my plan had worked and I floated up the first climb. I told my director, “These legs can win tomorrow, I just need to get them to the finish today,” and settled in for a long day.
The exasperated cries of “piano!” and “gruppetto!” every time guys felt like the pace was too high became music to my ears, as it was a reminder that most of the peloton was struggling. 6000kJ later, I hopped off my bike and bounded up the steps to the bus. I was tired, but in a great mood after laying the groundwork for a great time trial, and set to work getting everything in order for the next day.
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