Hello all! Paul here, just wanted to give you all an inside look at the Tucson Bicycle Classic:
I literally departed the cold weather of Boise thinking: If I can make it 2/3 of the race with in this super stacked peloton, I am going to be so pumped! The drive came and went and I found myself warming up in 80 degree weather for a 3.2 mile TT.
Stage 1- We as bike racers always talk about “Pre Race Gitters”, well, my hands where shaking at the start. My heart rate was already 150 and I had not even left the start house. As soon as I left I proceeded to push 600 watts for two minutes.
The race lasted 8 minutes for me…
As soon as the two minutes where up, I got my pre race gitters out of the way. And I realized that I had set my 2-minute power record by a lot! However the last 6 minutes of the TT felt like my legs where not part of my body. They hurt so bad that I could not feel them. As I looked down at my power meter, I saw numbers ranging from 200 watts to 300 watts… I was not really moving very fast for the finish uphill.
Result: 59 seconds back, @ 64th place
Stage 2- I went down to Tucson with the mind-set of working for Daniel Eaton and Ty Tuttle (my team mates on Canyon Bicycles), which really took a lot of pressure off mentally. Stage 2 was an 80 mile road race consisting of four laps around the Douval Mine just outside Green Valley Arizona. I took feeds for Ty, and made sure Danny was squared off with needed supplies throughout the stage. Honestly, my whole goal was to stay in the peloton for 2 of the 4 laps. As soon as the fourth lap started, the wind picked up and teams started to get at the front. I was so excited to be in the peloton that I decided to get near the front and race my bike. Coming near the final climb to the finish, I dropped back to grab Ty and pull him all the way up to the front, so there could be three Canyon jerseys present for the finishing climb. As soon as I brought Ty up, my legs started cramping so I “prayed the pain away” (Just thought of that) for the finish.
Since I was in the front group I decided that I was going to go as deep as possible to hang with this elite peloton. That is exactly what happened, until about 100 meters from the finish line. A rider from a team from Mexico pulled off the front and swerved right into my front wheel. I went down hard enough to go to the urgent care center. However, the race officials saw the rider collide into me and I was given the lead group time. I ended up shattering my helmet that was issued to me at team camp. So, while I was in the urgent care center, Nicole (my girlfriend) was able to crash replace my old helmet, get me a new helmet, and have my bike completely salvaged. She is amazing.
Result- 36th GC- 41st
Stage 3- Stage three was a short 50-mile circuit race on a 6-mile loop, with a few sustained climbs. My mentality had shifted from trying to stay in the race to get a top 15 result on the stage. I knew that I wanted to get Danny in a good place to win the stage. The race was fast. Right from the get go people where trying to get off the front, but Astellas or Jamis-Hagens Berman where quick to pull the break back. I wanted to stay as safe as possible for the 7 of the eight laps and that is exactly what I did. The last lap was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. It was like driving at 40 miles an hour, but with no control. There where three wrecks, and the peloton was strung out! Coming in to the final turn I was sitting about 20 wheels back and I needed a few more wheels to attain my goal. There where two punchy rollers coming in to the finish and there was a huge group that surged out to the left, I went right to jockey Danny and myself into a solid position. I got myself and Danny in the first few wheels and we all sprinted. Danny came in 6th, and I got 11th! I was so pumped I could not feel my wounds!!!
I was really excited because my Mom, Grandma, and Aunt showed up and watched the whole stage race.
There was quite a bit of selection on the last stage so I was able to move into 31st in the GC. I was so excited with this race and result!