Milan-San Remo: Man, this is Stupid
Milan San Remo last year sucked. We drove around for two hours in the morning before the start, then we started, then in snowed. It was awful. I saw Eastern Bloc guys crying. It’s pretty rare that you see Ukrainian professional cyclists crying on their bicycles, tears freezing on their faces. It was terrible. Two inches of ice on the helmet, gears don’t work, you can’t see anything, Robbie Hunter thought he needed to have his eye removed because it was frozen, “My fouckin’ eyeball is frozen!” You’re standing in the shower during the race stoppage thinking, “Man, this is stupid.” The showers ran out of hot water of course, so we boiled a bunch of water in the kettle and espresso machine and filled bottles to stuff in our clothes. Then we sat in the bus, in traffic, over the top of this mountain, hoping the race didn’t start up again. Of course we got over the mountain and had to start the damn race again. Dumping cats and dogs, ice rain. We finished the race, and sure it was shortened, but it’s Milan San Remo—it was still around 260km or something like that—and we finished in the dark under street lights. The media was talking about how the race was shortened, but the race is around 300km to start with. Abbreviated my ass. All of the staff and organizers are running around at the finish worried about taking care of the riders and they tell us, “Okay, the hotels are about a mile walk this way, the mechanics need your bike.” So we walked to the hotel through a mile of standing water, it was like fording a river the whole way. We get back to two rooms with two showers for nine guys, shower up and get in the cars to drive 700km home. So in a day we drove about 1000km, raced 260km, got snowed on, took two showers, maybe got frostbite, went to three hotels and I got back to my house at 2:30 in the morning. I just sat there and ate an entire box of cereal. I was so shelled I couldn’t even go to sleep. I watched a movie, I don’t remember what it was.
More Suck, Switching Gears, Report Cards
It also sucked that I crapped the bed in all of the Ardennes and then missed the Giro. I really want to do the Giro. But it all came around well, I did the Vuelta instead and that was fun. It was a good race but it was tough after Dan crashed-out. I went into the race full gas as a climbing domestique for Dan, but after his crash the whole team had to switch gears and ride for Tyler; I went from being a climbing domestique to being part of a leadout train. But I did it as well as I could and I think everyone was happy with the race. Tyler was fully capable of winning a number of those stages, so it wasn’t like we could go off and do our own thing. There are only five or so sprints in the race, but if you win a stage you’re pretty much set, and Tyler was our best shot so we had to focus on that. And we came close. But that’s how it works: we lost Dan, our next best bet was Tyler.
We don’t get a report card at the end of the year, but we do Director’s Meetings in November, where they lay out the schedule and say, “We’re happy with how you did here and here.” I don’t know if it’s just Garmin’s style, but it’s generally a pretty positive meeting, we focus on the positives and look into the future. There isn’t much, “We were happy with you at the Vuelta, but you really shit the bed in the Ardennes.” It’s not like they ignore things though, like say if the reason I was sick before the start of Amstel was because I’d stayed out all night drinking and passed out in the rain on a curb—they’d mention that and maybe have some problems with it. Leading up to the Giro selection, the Director called me up and he was like, “Look, we’ve been looking at your data and our physiologist thinks you’ll be flying by the third week of the Giro, and we’re happy about that. That’s where we stand, you’re in the running, and keep it up.” A week later I was kaput, sidelined. I just got sick. I wasn’t sleeping on a park bench or anything; it just happens. To be honest, it looked like a pretty rough race this year. I was really bummed I missed it but it looked like a hard go morale-wise. Ryder pulled the plug as the defending champion, that’s hard on the team. And nobody on the team really had a great race, though Ramunas [Navardauskas] looked good. It just looked tough weather-wise, morale-wise. I was sick, at home, trying to recover. Based on where I was at, I don’t think I missed much.