That's for the support and comments everyone!
Stage 7: 200 km
After the effort of stage 6, not to mention over seven pounds of sweat lost during the stage, my legs resisted like whiny toddlers. Twice riders on different teams said, “Spin, Mate! It’s only the first week.” Grinding a big gear feels like less work, but spinning saves the legs. As the course dragged us through the hot desert toward the final climb, I decided the best contribution I could make to the team would be to deliver bottles just before the final 20 km climb. With seven bottles stuffed in my jersey I drilled past 180 sprinting riders to my team at the front. They got their bottles and I went up the climb in the gruppetto on a mission to save energy.
Stage 8: 185 km
Back on breakaway duty we charged off the front over and over. After 30 km Alex Howes, “La Flama Blanca,” slipped in a move of six. We hoped they would go all the way, but the course suited Sagan and he wanted another stage win. His team kept the break on a short leash.
As we approached two laps of a circuit with a steep climb each lap, every rider had his elbows out pushing for the front. I was first in our train lined up on the left, but Dan decided to noodle his way through the middle and save some energy. Talansky and I dropped back a bit as the atmosphere grew tense and dangerous. Just then brakes squealed and carbon cracked. I skidded to a halt, and jogged through the grass around the massive pile up. Someone was screaming in pain. Scanning the road on my right for green helmets I nearly stepped on Dan who had catapulted ten feet off the road. He held his shoulder and looked in agony. I waited but he wasn’t getting back on his bike.
Kris Boeckmans broke bones in his face, ribs and punctured a lung. He is still in an induced coma. Tejay broke his arm. Dan separated his shoulder.
After a desperate chase we rejoined the peloton at the base of the climb, and I made the selection of 80 riders. I went for bottles too late before the last climb, and rode to the finish in a small group.
Just before the sprint a race official motorcycle struck Sagan off his bike, and the eventual stage winner, Jasper Stuyven, won with a broken scaphoid from the crash. What a messy day. Cardoso is our top GC rider now in 18th place.
Stage 9: 175 km
That night I rolled over and over in bed with cold sweats and a sore throat. I drank a gallon of water over night trying to flush it out, but on the way to the start worried about the stage. Crosswinds made an uncomfortable nervous day which resulted in another twenty rider pile up. The first climb whittled the peloton to 80 riders. I delivered bottled then took wind for Cardoso heading into the summit finish. On the way up I enjoyed the massive crowds including some good friends from home vacationing in Valencia.
Stage 10: 150 km
I'm still fighting the cold but I finally made the break. Sort of. After twenty minutes of nonstop attacking we hit a climb. I grit my teeth and got over it in the peloton, so I thought. Then our director came over the radio, “There’s a group of 38 riders off the front with a minute. We have Villella and Ben King there. Good job boys.” Instead of working together, we just attacked the snot out of each other until the group got a bit smaller. A couple hours of disorganisation later I was out of water, and the peloton mowed us down in a crosswind section. A big group had gone off the back. I brought Cardoso to the front and rode in the wind until the bottom of the last climb. Then I took three water bottles from the car and finished them in the 15 km to the finish.
After the race we drove five hours in the bus and had dinner at midnight. Tomorrow. Rest day.