November 01, 2014 (Guatemala) – Canada’s Jean-Michel Lachance just completed the 54th Vuelta Guatemala, an eight-day category 2.2 stage race, that wrapped today. Lachance finished 38th overall and provides a quick recap of stages 4-8… for stages 1-3 click here.
Stage 4 – Solola to San Marcos – 128km
The fourth stage was on paper very hard with 2 mountain pass close to 3000m of altitude. From the very first km, we hit a steep hill. Then we had a ondulating section before the first high mountain KOM of Alaska followed by a long descent to Quetzaltenango. I hang on well during that mountain pass. However, the second climb was steeper and the legs started to hurt. In San Marcos, we were welcomed by hundreds of thousands of fans. The athmosphere was absolutely electric !
Stage 5 – Retalhuleu to Quetzaltenango – 97km
The fifth stage also presented a very difficult course with a long category one climb towards Quetzaltenango. The road was very bad on the flat and I punctured 5km before we start climbing. Being the only rider in the team with 11 speed, I was given a 10 speed wheel, which worked well. However, I had to remember not to move up pass the 28 which I forgot on a 10% section of the climb, resulting in breaking my derailer hanger into the wheel. The team had just passed me and I had to wait about 15min to get a spare bike, which end up to be a tiny Small Scott bike. Still, I had to push a little in order to make the time cut with all the time lose. Luckily, I brought a spare derailer hanger with me and so I will be able to continue on my own bike.
Stage 6 – Totonicapan to Quiche – 151km
Longest stage of the Vuelta, I was not ready to suffer that much. Right from the start, I tried to joined the breakaway, but I came short a few meters on the first KOM. Them, we had a long and bad descent towards Huehuetenango before hitting a very hard section of mountains. The legs being very tired, I was not able to hang for long on the steeper parts and I just followed as I could with the group I was then. I was very weaken from the sinus infection and it took me a good ammount of time to take back some strength after the stage.
Stage 7 – Tecpan to Tecpan – 132km
The number is usually a lucky number, but today was not my day. 5min before the race start, my derailleur hanger broke again when the mechanic tried to do a last minute adjustment to the gears. With so little time before the start, I had to jump on a neutral bike, set the saddle height by eye and complete the race. The tires were no more than 50psi and I almost got dropped right after the first climb and descent with only a 12-tooth cog. All day long, all I had focused in my head was getting through the stage in order to be able to fight for the win the next day. It turn out, my legs were good as I managed to hang on the main bunch and even dispute the bunch sprint. With eight riders up the road including my teammate, it was only a sprint for 9th, but I got it and was encouraged for the next day.
Stage 8 – Guatemala – 104km
After a very long transfer from Tecpan to Guatemala because of the traffic (90km took 4h), my Guatemalan friend Alejandro helped me find a bike that was my size to finish the Vuelta. In the end, he found me a nice medium sized Specialized. Confident in my sprint, the tactic was delicate as the leader’s team was likely going to let a break go up the road. I followed a few moves and after the first lap, I was happy with the situation with two riders up the road with only 40sec. Midway, one of my teammate bridged across with another one making it four leaders and the gap grew to 1:30 quickly. From then, I just concentrated on the bunch sprint. I was feeling very good today, but the teams were not letting anyone in the break. The Colombian team said: “No le deja ir en fuga, el es pistard”. A sprint for the win and a sprint for 5th doesn’t bring the same motivation and I got surprised by two Colombians with 200m to go. A bit deceived I was quite satisfied overall with the Vuelta, especially after overcoming all of the adversity from badluck to sickness.
Final GC here.