Contributed by Fabio Calabria
The Tour of Ireland got underway with good weather – the sun was out the whole stage so we had dry roads and no rain.
Favorable weather for Stage 1 increased the crowd count at Waterford.
There were big crowds along the route and a good crowd at the start this morning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. No doubt about it, Lance is having an impact on the attention this race is getting. I also had the pleasure of meeting a local Irish girl at the start who had Type 1 diabetes. It’s always good for the motivation to meet fans before the race.
MTN Energade rider Jay Thomson had a five-minute lead at the feed zone.
The race started really fast, with lots of attacks. I knew straight-away that I was still jet-lagged like nobody’s business and that it was not going to be a good day. So my race was a one of survival to try and make it through the day with the hopes of feeling better and being able to contribute to the team Saturday and Sunday.
Every morning starts the same for all of us: with sign-in.
So for me, I tried to conserve as much energy as possible and stay anonymous until the race split close enough to the finish to know that I wasn’t going to get time cut. The last categorized climb was a Category 1 – really steep – and Astana was riding a decent tempo on the front. That’s where I lost contact with the main group. After the descent, the grupetto formed with about 20 or so of us. We rode the last few kilometers of the stage into the finish together, knowing we weren’t going to get time cut.
American Dave Towle is the race announcer – and a darned good one.
On the team side, we had some bad luck and Team Type 1 is no longer in contention for the general classification. But we’re also happy that Matt Wilson got enough points on the day to lead the King of the Mountain classification.
One thing you might see on the TV coverage of this race is that because we are away from the United States, we are using vehicles supplied by the race organization. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have as much as much space as we would like. So this morning, when I went to get in the car, I found I was sharing my seat with our mechanic’s toolbox and two sets of wheels.
Our second team car was stuffed with luggage for Stage 1.
So, after the stage, we were greeted with a similar situation. Our team owner and founder, Phil Southerland had arrived at the race, which made it even more challenging to fit everyone in. To make things worse, we had a one-hour transfer to our hotel after the stage. Fortunately, our staff is good at Tetris and we managed to pack our bags and equipment into the cars and van and had just enough space to fit everyone in.
Our hotel tonight is fantastic. It’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in at a race. You an always tell how nice a hotel is by how big the bath towels are. At this hotel, with a towel wrapped around my waist, the towel touched the floor. So this is a nice hotel.
You know Phil and Paul, but do you know Pat? (She is Phil’s wife.)
Saturday’s stage is another 195 km race, similar to Friday’s stage, terrain-wise. The plan will be to do everything we can to consolidate Matt’s lead in the King of the Mountains competition going into the final day. For me, I’ll do everything within my power to help him – making sure he has enough food and drink and clothing and assist him in the sprints out on the road. It’s supposed to rain, which will add another challenge, as your body can always react negatively to adverse weather conditions.
Friday’s finish in Waterford finished near – what else – the water.
When it’s cold and raining, you definitely have to eat more as your body buns more calories. This is especially important for person with Type 1 diabetes. The body burns all its calories and glucose to keep warm, meaning you have to eat twice as much. So if it’s raining, I’ll have to be mindful to continually eat even more so than I would a normal race.