As a first year U23 joining the North American pro peloton for the first time, time cuts are always in the back of your mind. Although you want to think about racing to win or get a good placement, evading the time cut quickly becomes your number one concern.
I had made it to stage three after two days of hard fought riding. I had planned to ride the TT at a very hard but not all out pace. Without a TT bike and little practice at this discipline this year, I knew I was not in contention for a good result. This was a chance where I could give my legs a little bit of a rest before stage five’s infamous sunset course.
I set out onto a rough and wet course trying to squeeze out some watts in the unfamiliar time trial position I had set up on my road bike, and I could tell right away I was not feeling good; the last two days had definitely taken their toll. I pushed on and tried to keep my speed up over the rougher sections of the course. Coming up to the turnaround I knew that I was not on my best day, but also not my worst. That’s when my rear tire started to loose air and I started waving to the group of spectators hoping that someone would have a spare wheel whilst I tried to nurse the remaining air to the group. Fortunately, there were neutral Shimano wheels at the turnaround and I was able to get a new rear wheel. Unfortunately, the mechanic had trouble unscrewing the training skewer I had put on for warm-up and it made for a slow wheel change.
At this point I knew I would already be down on the leaders by a significant margin - I was once staring down the barrel of the time cut gun. I gave it everything on the way back. I had done some math before the stage had a good guess of what time I needed to make to the next stage. By the time I crossed the line I had was maxed out, I looked down at my Garmin and, per my earlier calculations, had guessed that I wouldn’t make time cut. I rolled into the TRT tent pretty disappointed; all of the months of hard work ruined by a flat tire.
I tried to look at the bright side of the situation: I had been riding well, we were in California and I had been able to start my first Cat 1 race. Although I thought I would be time cut, we had to wait for the official results to be sure, so I went through with my normal methods of recovery. The official email came out at it turns out that I had made time cut! I had once again I had danced the devil and made it out alive.