Tour de L’Abitbi- July 17-22
This is the longest junior stage race in the world at 7 stages over 6 days. This may dwarf in comparison to a grand tour, but man is it long! The team sent here was stacked, with all the members having gotten good results in Europe. We knew the strength at L’Abitbi wasn’t as strong from years past so our plan was to truly take the bull by the horns, and I can confidently say we did. Our team controlled mostly everyday starting with a startling demonstration on the first 117 kilometer stage. The guys rode the last 15 kilometers without a challenge(so fast!), but unfortunately I couldn’t close the deal at the finish, coming in second. Luckily, my teammates still believed and wanted to get me a stage win, which happened on the fourth stage after a nice morning time trial(TJ won stage two from a break to jump into the lead). On the morning time trial, we went 1-5 and seventh(I was fourth) which put us 1-6 in GC leading into the 51k fifth stage. We had a rotating paceline going from the gun until I sat back with about 8k to go, saving some energy for the sprint. I timed this one correctly, getting the win and points jersey to defend. The rest of the stages went by without much of a hitch, we kept the pack in control, I gained time and points in the intermediate sprints, and of course sprinted for the finales. I had been doing some work throughout the stages comparative to the other sprinters, leaving me slightly gassed but it was not in vain. I left the next two stages with a 3rd and 4th before the final 115km slug-fest. Three of our compatriots, including the leader TJ went into a breakaway which stuck due to the packs infighting and their strength. I slipped from 2nd to 8th in GC after the race, but a win and the orange points jersey were nice consolidation prizes. We ended up getting 1st-3rd in GC and taking every jersey available (points,overall, young rider, and king of the mountain) becoming only the second team ever to sweep those and team GC in the tour’s 50 year span. Thank you to Giant with the lightning fast bike and Hammer nutrition for the many delicious flavors of bars and gels, which kept me topped off and ready to race!