The third day of the race was a long flat run in to one of the longest climbs I have ever done, ending at ~9,300 ft Mt. Nebo is long, steep, and exposed. I think most everyone who started the race had one of two goals. Option one, sit in and hide from the wind as much as possible to try and be fresh for the climb or, option two, get into an early break and hope to make it partially up the climb before getting caught. After the early break went it was time to hide, eat, and conserve energy to try and be ready for the latter part of the race where things were guaranteed to come apart. This was an easy task for the first 15 or so miles until it became obvious that the same headwind that had made riding in the pack relatively easy was going to turn into a devastating cross wind as we wound our way around Utah Lake. I decided it was time to take a piss before stuff hit the fan and as I was drifting back and about to start pedaling again I saw Paddy Bevin from Bissel headed to the front of the peloton with purpose. Knowing all too well he probably just talked to his DS who told him that the wheels were going to come off in the next couple of miles in the cross wind, I jumped on his wheel and got towed to front of the already strung out peloton.
As we rounded the lake the long cross wind section started and instantly the field was guttered single file try to suck a non existent draft out of the 2 inches of road between the wheel of the rider in front of them.
Eventually the field split into several echelons and hiding was not an option. I ended up burning alot of matches in this sections but made it into what I think was the second group on the road. A left turn ahead looked like it might put an end to the cross wind sections but unfortunately it made it worse as what had been a cross-head wind turned into a cross tail wind and separated the groups even more. Most of the echelons ended up regrouping as we road through a canyon where George Hincapie decided to meet the pavement directly in front of me. I am not really sure how it happened as it looked like he just road right off the road into the soft shoulder and instantly hit the ground.
I went back to the car to get some bottles before the final climb as we turned onto Mt. Nebo. The lower sections are relatively mellow in terms of grade but a strong tailwind meant we were climbing at 24-25 mph and although I was hanging in there I was definitely hurting. We took one more turn onto a much steeper section and I immediately came off and road the rest of the amazingly hard climb with a pretty big gruppetto. Luckily we were in no danger of the time cut unlike some of the groups on the road which from what I heard, ended up getting dragged up the climb hanging onto cars.
More to come soon…