Last week, I had my first experience of UCI racing when I was invited to ride for CC Cartagena- Esetec- R.Fuentes at the Vuelta Ciclista a La Ribera del Duero.
Stage 1 consisted of a 17.9km Team Time Trial. As a team we started well but after 3km we were already down to 4 riders so this made it very difficult for us as a team to do as well as the other teams did but we still gave everything right to the line.
Stage 2 was the first road stage, a 102.3km day. I made it my aim to try and get in the breakaway at the right time or stay at the front for the whole race. For the first 30km, I was feeling comfortable at the front and well placed even though I had missed the breakaway. After the 40km mark my performance suddenly hit a wall and I was nowhere near as comfortable as I was and as soon as we got on to the 2nd category climb, I had cramp in both of my thighs so that ended my hopes of a good result on the first road stage but despite the pain I was in, I dragged myself to the finish and finished inside the time limit fairly easily.
I got back to the race hotel after stage 2 very downhearted and in a way embarrassed that I couldn’t perform how I know I can and how should have done. I did not for one moment consider abandoning the race, even with the pain I was in on the stage. I went to bed after a massage to recover to go again for stage 3.
Stage 3 was a 97.7km stage with 2 2nd category climbs in. My aim was to stay in the peloton and see what happens as I knew it had the potential to be a hectic final if I got there. It was a fast start so I hid as well as I could out of the wind in the peloton until the first climb where I started to struggle as the leaders attacked. I looked over my shoulder as we got towards the top of the first climb and saw my teammate Sergi was behind me and we both worked together to get back to the peloton on the decent and we quickly got back on.
We both hid in the wheels until the next climb where we both got slightly distanced but we fought back again and got ready for the finish. I found a good lead out train to follow coming into the last kilometre and sprinted to an 8th place. After the disappointment of stage 2, I was so happy to show that I did belong at a race such as this.
The final stage was a 113.7km. My aim was to do exactly the same as stage 3 and stay in the wheels and see what happens. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hang onto the leaders on the final 2nd category climb but I tried to chase for the whole remainder of the stage but to not avail. I sprinted to a 44th place.
This race was a definitely a great experience of racing at the highest level in cycling. Thank you to all the organisers and commissaires for making this race possible. Thank you to CC Cartagena for giving me the opportunity of racing a race of this level.
As always I’m very thankful to my coach Cesar Neira for all the help he gave me to help me pick myself up after stage 2 along with my parents and my friends Louis Bilyard and Santiago Cadavid all giving me the belief to go and put the bad day behind me. Thanks also to Pedal Potential for their continued support.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next blog.