Leigh Howard has openly stated his ambitions for the Tour de San Luis. He is in Argentina chasing a stage win. He showed that his form is strong and his goals are within reach on the opening day of the seven day race. In his own words, he describes the racing action between the stage start in San Luis and the bunch sprint in Villa Mercedes.
Basically, the day was an early break and then a bunch sprint. Eight riders went away, and there were no big teams represented, so we weren’t too stressed. We let other teams do the chase work. We had a tailwind nearly the entire time we raced, so it made for a very easy day in the bunch.
The build-up to the sprint during the last 30 kilometres was hectic, and the last 10 kilometres was borderline crazy. There were several nasty corners on the run into town.
I had the boys looking after me, and they did a really good job. Mitch Docker, Svein Tuft and Michael Albasini helped me up to the front, and Mitch did the final lead out. He dropped me off at about 500 metres to go. I think I was on Alessandro Petacchi’s (Lampre-Merida) wheel after that. Unfortunately, I was pushed into the wind for a bit – only for a few seconds – but it was enough to take the edge off in the final sprint. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) won ahead of Sacha Modolo (Bardiani CSF Inox). Petacchi rounded out the podium. Although I’m happy with fourth, I definitely hope I can go get on the podium tomorrow.
I’m still contending with a bit of jetlag, and I definitely didn’t feel anything more than average today. I certainly expect to get better in the coming days. Mitch and I had a long flight from Australia to Argentina. With over 50 hours of travel and a gigantic time difference, it’s hard not to be a little impacted. I suspect most of the peloton is and that we’ll all come better in the next day or two.
This is my first time in Argentina – my first time in South America, actually – and it’s been a really nice experience so far. It’s a different world than what I’m accustomed to – and it’s a bit of an eye-opener in that regard. It always good to see other parts of the world, so I’m happy to be here.
Stage two looks set to be another bunch sprint. We’ll give it a nudge and see how we go.