I had the best of intentions to document each grueling stage of the Tour of New Zealand. However, even the best of intentions are sometimes foiled. As you many know, I was in the northern island of New Zealand competing in an event that is sure to raise a hint of jealousy. The Tour of New Zealand. Does it get any better than that? A bike race in New Zealand. Even though the scenery was breath taking, the air warm, and the sheep happy, I was unable to relax and enjoy where I was. I was competing in one of the most difficult cycling endeavors I have done so far.
We were arriving to this UCI tour with one of the strongest teams present. Did I believe it? Absolutely. With Olympians, World Champions, National Champions, and some of the strongest riders I have ever competing against domestically, I had confidence in our US National Team. However, what did the rest of the world have to offer? It was destined to be a tough race. Tough fails to describe the effort we put in at the tour of New Zealand.
Our main goal was simple: Win the Tour.
Will we win stages on our way to complete this lofty mission? Possibly. But most importantly, USA must leave NZL with the coveted yellow jersey.
Second goal: Win a stage
Third Goal: Win Overall Team Classification
I have mentioned our incredible director, Manel Lacambra, an energetic Spanish man who prefers to fight in Italian, and he is a huge asset to the program at USA Cycling. This man is a tactical genius who sacrifices, sleep and rest to be prepared and to prepare us for every test of each day. He studied not only the courses, but the riders and weather conditions as well. An invaluable director ensures confidence in his riders, and we are able to race accordingly.
Until now, I may have not understood the amount of work that is required to keep the jersey. Now, I look upon that jersey with a little different point of view. Each day of the tour was a new battle, a new challenge, and constant pedaling to protect the yellow jersey. Upon completion of the tour, the USA had won 5 stages, the yellow jersey, and overall team classification. We made history. When I see that yellow jersey I was able to take home with me, I take great pride in the USA and our accomplishments in New Zealand. We put our whole effort, blood, sweat, and tears into protecting that jersey, and we accomplished all our goals. Normally when someone says this phrase, it is with a hint of exaggeration, however, in our case, I mean it quite literally. It was a true battle to protect this, but we knew we had the strength to do so, we just needed to discover our own limits. Mission accomplished.
2010 will be a good year for USA, and we look forward to continue to build and grow on this tour into more races in the future.
Stages won: 5
Days yellow jersey worn and protected: 6
Overall Team: USA
1st and 2nd rider: USA
Upon arriving home yesterday, my mind was still in a whirl of all we had done. Thank you for the direction Manel, and thank you team for putting everything we had out there. We did it.
Now, what’s the next race on tap?