Nov 4 – Stage 14 – 204,7 km – Hilly
Lugo > Ourense
Another strong performance yields a status quo.
The most tempting route to take after the kilometer-long climb that finished today’s stage was to knock ourselves down with a game of “what if”.
What if we had chased the breakaway down and given Dan Martin a chance to win? In another show of strength, Martin had been able to accelerate with 300 meters left on the climb to cross the line in front of his GC rivals; but it yielded nothing more than maintaining the status quo since 3 minutes earlier the stage had been won by Tim Willens (who had been part of the day’s breakaway).
Frustrating? Maybe a bit. We had planned to try to close the gap, but at that point – on the last climb of the day when the breakaway was about 2 minutes ahead – the ISN DS decided not to gamble. We were already one man down after our young French talent, Alexis Renard, was forced to abandon with severe stomach pain due to an infection. We only had Omer Goldstein, Reto Hollenstein, and James Piccoli with Dan in the front group. “Omer asked me if we should go for it and even though I appreciate him for that – he has impressed us all here – I did not think it was going to work,” explained our DS Oscar Guerrero.
But Martin, who finished 8th, had no interest in playing “what if”, saying: “When that super strong break went, some teams tried to chase, but it was always going to be challenging to bring it back. I had a bit of fun in the end, and Reto did a perfect lead-out. It’s still very different when you don’t sprint for the win. I’m sure it would have been a lot more chaotic if the stage victory was up for grabs, but the best way to not lose time is to lead from the front, so I wanted to stay safe. It’s nice to get another top 10 for the team after the effort the guys put in keeping me safe and out of the wind all day.
“Another long day tomorrow. We are just staying focused on conserving as much energy as possible and we’ll see what happens.”
Another long day? Perhaps an understatement.
Tomorrow’s stage is the LONGEST at 230-kilometers!