A tough day for me right from the start and the plan now is to save some energy and stay out of trouble
Although I felt pretty rough all day I was never in any danger of getting dropped
Katusha Team’s Daniel Moreno on his way to winning the fourth stage of the Tour of Spain yesterday from Lalin and Fisterra. Photograph: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images
Stage four, Lain - Fisterra (186.4km): After feeling better than I had anticipated for the first three days of the race, yesterday’s stage was a rougher one for me. It has been a long year for me and with the way my preparation has been going into the race, deliberately holding back because I was getting over my illness for the Tour and because I want to be strong later in the race and for the world championships, I am going to be up and down early on.
I was happy enough to stay in the peloton. I felt pretty rough all day, although I was never in any danger of getting dropped or anything like that. It was the case that I was perhaps thinking too much about how I was feeling, noting that my legs were a bit off, and I didn’t actually eat or drink as much as I should have.
While Sunday and Monday’s stage were fairly steady until the end, when there were big efforts on the final climbs, stage four was hard from the start. It didn’t look too difficult on paper but there was hardly a metre of flat all day. It was up and down, hot as well, and also the speed was on.
There was a little bit of a lull when we let the breakaway get a big time gap, then obviously we had to ride hard to catch them. Having that pressure on the pedals all day is something that I haven’t been used to in the weeks since the Tour.
We had a tough third category climb just over 40 kilometres from the end. Placing was going to be crucial so there was a big fight between the teams on the approach to that. It was pretty hectic but I did a good job of positioning myself. I think I was in the top 10 around the bottom corner of the climb, ahead of all the general classification guys. As a result I was able to take it easy going up the really steep part of the climb. That section had gradients of 30 per cent, so it was very tough.
Needed small gear
It’s unusual to get climbs like that, although in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco we did have a couple as steep, if not even steeper. We are lucky that our director, Bingen Fernandez, is very well schooled in the Vuelta a España. Between the fact that he has that knowledge and the fact that the race actually finished on that climb last year, we knew that we needed a really small gear on the bikes.
We were using 34x28, so the gradient wasn’t a problem . . . it didn’t feel that steep to us. But some other teams weren’t so fortunate to have that knowledge, and were over-geared.
That led to a bit of chaos. If you have a 200 man peloton going up something as hard as that and the riders don’t have the right gearing, there are going to be stoppages and stalls. There was a big crash on the climb and it meant that some riders came to a complete halt.