July 27, 2006 – While the Tour de France was on the rest of us were still racing all over Europe. While the Discovery team didn’t perform fantastically well at the Tour and didn’t roll into Paris in their accustomed dominant style, the rest of the team was performing well winning both the Tour of Austria (Tom Danielson won) and the Sachsen Tour in Germany (Vladimir Gusev won). The racing during the Tour is not easy as there is a peloton of riders that either didn’t make the Tour and are flying fit as they were gunning for spots, or riders that are racing to get fit for the second half of the season.
After the start of the Tour I had ten days to relax a little and during this time I took it easy at home with my family before jumping on a plane for Dresden, Germany and the Sachsen Tour. After a break from racing, and some time off the bike from training, it is always difficult to gauge how I will perform at the first race back. I knew my fitness was still okay as I had been in peak shape just two weeks prior as I was physically and mentally ready to race the Tour de France.
In Germany, it was hot – hotter than in Spain where we live – which made the racing difficult. I felt good on the climbs and our team was performing well as we always had at least three riders with the front group. We all knew we had to be consistently in front on the rolling to hilly stages and that if we were consistent, the race would come down to the 24 km time trial on the penultimate stage.
Throughout the race my teammate, Gusev, was predicting he would win the time trial, ” I have damn good legs. I will win.” Such confidence is rare in cycling, and at the end of the day, he didn’t win the time trial but he did take the overall lead in the race. The Goose finished a close second to Giro pink jersey wearer Stephan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner in the time trial and at the end of the day, he was leading, I was third and Jason McCartney was fifth overall.
The team controlled the race from start to finish on the last stage and we were able to wrap up a week of racing with our second stage race victory in a month.
In the next month I will be racing in Germany again at the Hamburg one day Classic, and the Tour of Germany. After that I will be resting a little bit to get ready for the Vuelta a Espana.