d’Aosta Stage 2: climb, climb, climb
(Ian Boswell of Bend is currently racing the Valle d’Aosta, a UCI 2.2 race in Italy, with the USA Cycling U23 National Team. The race started Tuesday and ends Sunday, Aug. 28. Boswell wrote this report after stage 2).
By Ian Boswell
Need I say much more about the stage? With 12,000 feet of climbing, today was a day of survival or a day to battle on the longest climbs I have ever done. Wearing the KOM jersey I went into the stage ready to defend and get more points, little did I realize how much yesterday took out of me. Just 6km into the stage the road turned up and I threw in my first attack. I was hoping to get off the front with a small group of riders who would let me take the points in exchange for setting the pace on the climb. I was quickly reeled in only to try again. A few more tries and I was cooked, so I retired to the pack only to see a group ride off the front and the pack sit up. I summitted in the second group, but by the time we hit the foot of the second climb the pack (only about 60 riders at this point) was all back together.
The second climb was a bit steeper at the bottom and attacks began to fly, making the already small pack begin to fray almost instantly. Both of our climbing aces, Rob Squires and Joe Dombrowski, went off the front in the lead group while Larry Warbasse and I rode a hard but more steady pace in the group just behind. Countless kilometers of climbing later we were just seconds behind the lead group, and with 1km to the KOM we caught the leaders. Four riders went off the front just as we made contact, but I was still able to sprint and get a meager 1 point for summitting in 5th. After another long descent with breathtaking views and switchbacks, we were at the foot of the final and longest climb of the day. The opening kilometers of the climb saw 4 riders attack off the front and open up a good gap within 1km. In the pack behind we all took a minute to fuel up before we started our final assault on ourselves and the climb.
Despite having already climbed over two Alp passes, Rob wanted more. Sitting 3rd on GC, he wanted to try to improve and climb the ladder to the yellow jersey. So with no teams riding the front, Larry and I went to the front and began to set a tempo to keep the riders off the front in check and discourage the riders in our group from attacking. It wasn’t long before guys began going backwards, including the yellow jersey. Larry and and I continued on for another 8 km before we were overtaken by a Russian onslaught. Joe and Rob marked the move as Larry and I began to succumb to gravity. With still 17km to climb, the two of us decided to save our matches for another day, as easy as that is climbing a mountain.
Rob and Joe went for it up front, but they could not match mother Russia’s leader, who put 3+ minutes into 2nd place, despite having a crash on the final descent. Joe finished 9th on the stage with Rob in the same group. Larry and I came in with the second large group on the road still in the top 40, which blows my mind seeing how much today’s stage blew to shreds. I lost the KOM jersey, but I’m still in contention and plan on chasing more points. Every stage from here on out has a lot of climbing with more amazing views!
Thank you for reading.
P.S. Happy Birthday to Gavin Mannion who was treated to all these wonderful climbs today. He was the only one who finished the stage today and didn’t look like death, he actually had a big smile. Thanks Gavin for keeping us upbeat!