May 26, 2009 (Italy) – Chemistry is a vital component to team success. I am racing on one of the most victorious teams in the recent history of cycling at the Giro d’Italia, a team that seems to be continually improving. Many people are asking “what is the key to the success of Team Columbia in past two seasons?”
There are many components that have led to our success but perhaps the one that stands out at me most right now is chemistry. We have a good bunch of guys, who are all friends. The objectives are clear, our strengths compliment each other, there is mutual respect, there is no selfishness, everyone is contributing to the effort and we are having a lot of fun together, on and off the bike.
Entering a Grand Tour can be daunting as 21 days of racing lay ahead with mountains to climb, sprints to contest and obstacles to overcome. We spend as much time in the bus as on our bikes transferring between the hotels and race venues. Prior to a grand tour, teams lay out their objectives and goals for the race as a whole and then the race is broken down and analyzed day by day as each course is different. Our goals then evolve as the race develops and competitors come to the fore or fade from contention.
At the start of the Giro, our first priority was to win the team time trial and as many stages as possible. We knew we had a shot at the podium overall with Mick Rogers and Tommy Lovkvist, but we would take the race day by day. The team got a huge shot of confidence and adrenaline through our victory in Venice on day 1 and that energy has carried through a good chunk of the race. In fact, the momentum we have built in the last season and a half is perhaps the reason we won the Team Time Trial.
We found ourselves in a solid position at the second rest day, having won six stages. Michael and Tommy are well positioned to contend for the top ten overall, and possibly the podium. Our goal will be to boost Michael on top of the podium and to help Thomas stay in the top ten while also holding on to the best young rider’s jersey.
My work thus far in the Giro has involved many kilometers of riding on the front of the peloton, dropping back every so often to get bottles for the leaders and making sure our leaders are sheltered from the wind.
We are currently riding through a heat wave. The temperature is reaching 40 Celsius daily and it is sapping the peloton’s energy. The last week will be hard as we have been racing relentlessly fast for two weeks. The race will remain exciting until we reach Rome next Sunday.