That pretty much sums up cycling. Yesterday and today all of the CTS Team members did great and worked extra hard. It didn’t matter if you were an ex-pro who has participated in the Tour de France, a 71 year old retiree from Denver or a 47 year old climber who can’t sprint, you suffered on the bike. The only difference between the various CTS Team members is how long it takes someone to finish a stage NOT how hard it is to finish a stage. Everyone finished stage 4 yesterday (except for Tim who – most likely due a 5,000 watts effort – broke his bicycle crank). Today, everyone would have finished the stage had it not been for the pros deciding to put on full gas and set a pace which was quicker than the organizers’ expectations.

We rolled off at our standard time of 7:30am. We made the decision to cut Stage 5 short and start at mile 33 – on top of the stage’s first big climb. The pros were scheduled to start earlier than on the other stages (9:15 am) which would have given us only a two hour head start. As it turns out, we made the right decision to shorten the stage. In total we rode 102 miles.

The group held together nicely for the first 57 miles. We then hit a not so steep but very long climb (14 km). That is when people started getting dropped. I stayed with the front group but I felt like I didn’t have the legs. Near the top of the hill all hell broke loose. People started sprinting. I knew right away that this was the moment when group A and group B would get formed. I was determined to be part of group A until I completely buried myself. I quickly jumped on Chris Carmichael’s wheel as I knew for sure he would bridge the gap to the riders trying to break away. With the help of Jeff we made it back to the front group. That is when the real work started. We got into a paceline formation and kept up a speed of 43.7 km/hour for the next 17 minutes.

With 34 km to go we got to the bottom of the last big climb and this is when I got dropped. I never quit and continued solo at a strong pace to the finish line. I got there right behind group A –in fact I showed up in time for the group A photo at the finish line.

Tomorrow is a recovery day. Some riders will take the day off (yours truly – yes, I will be working), some riders will ride easy around the stage 6 time-trial course in Solvang and team member John will actually be doing the time-trial: GO JOHN!

And then Saturday comes and Saturday is Jamie’s day. Stay tuned.

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Stage 5 According to the Tour of California Website

Stage 5 of the race will still start in Seaside and the peloton will head east through decommissioned Fort Ord into Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home of the Sea Otter Classic. A few turns will take the riders out onto Hwy 68 and the peloton will soon tackle the first of four KOMs, Laureles Grade. A fast four-mile descent will bring the race into the quaint village of Carmel Valley and the first of two Sprints for the stage. With wineries and horse farms, the landscapes and vistas are of an undiscovered California, making it one of the most beautiful stages in the history of the Amgen Tour of California. This narrow, twisty road keeps climbing, and within 45 minutes the race will have scaled two more KOMs. It is then a long descent along the Carmel Valley River. As the peloton rolls towards the second Sprint in the rural town of Greenfield, they will enter a well-deserved Feed Zone. Leaving Greenfield, the scenery will change as the riders enter one of the most fertile agricultural valleys in California. Here, the land is flat and the growing season is well underway. Fields of grapes give way to lettuce and strawberries. As the race passes through the towns of King City and San Lucas, the riders will head west to more rolling hills. With more than 30 miles to Paso Robles, the riders will rarely see a flat section of road again. Splitting Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio, the climbers will contest the fourth and final KOM of the stage. The final push into Paso Robles rolls past some of the best wineries in the state. At the end of the day, the racers will have spent more than 6.5 hours on the bike as they cover 135 miles and nearly 10,000′ of climbing.

Map of Stage 5

Stage 5 Map

Profile of Stage 5

Stage 5 Profile

Stage 5 Video