Julian Dean Diary
The last two stages, 3 & 4, have been something to talk about, that?s for sure. They?ve been hectic as hell in the final with both stages being decided by climbs in the final kms.
Stage 3 had a 7km climb within 10 km from the finish. We rolled most of the day steadily and in true Italian style, as we neared the finish, it got faster and faster until the last few kms before the climb when the intensity was amongst the highest I?ve ever felt. I loved it and I was right there in amongst it, giving it death trying to fight for position at the bottom of the climb. When the bad asses opened it up on the climb, I tried my best to stay with them. I let them go but managed to get back on until finally 2km from the top, I couldn't hold them anymore. Fifty guys went away and we weren?t able to catch them on the descent. I was pretty happy though. I gave it everything and did all that I could but I just wasn't strong enough.
At the top I thought that we?d catch them as they were only a couple hundred metres in front but our group pissed around too much and the front group was gone. I was more than satisfied with how I climbed so that has been a good boost to my confidence.
Stage 4 was much the same although it was the mad descent with 2km to go that made the race. With 8 tight corners in the last 1500m, those who held position at the top of the climb and had big swingers, made it to the finish first. I was no further than 15th over the top of the climb with 2km to go but when we came around the 2nd of the 8 corners, some dude dropped it and caused a split in the group. For those of us behind him, it was all over. In hindsight I should?ve tried to be closer to the front over the top of the climb but it wasn't easy and I was maxed out. On the descent I was a little nervous and maybe should?ve taken some more risks but the fact is I was pretty much at my limit and even sprinting out of the corners on the downhill had me stretched. All good though. The form is starting to pick up and I?m riding better than I have all year.
I?ve been enjoying the racing here so far. The style suits me well and the weather has been good. Not to mention the food. Only wish I?d done the Giro more. Although if you ask me whether I?m still loving it in a week once we?ve hit in the mountains, maybe the answer will be different. By then I?ll be starting to suffer like in any other big race?
Incidentally, there?s been a marked improvement in the hotels as we have come further north...
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