In His Own Words: Christian Meier on La Vuelta Stage NineSun 1 Sep 2013
Dani Moreno (Katusha) launched a perfectly time attack on the steepest ramp of “the wall” up to the finish line in Valdepeñas de Jaén on stage nine of the Vuelta a España. His effort earned him a solo stage win, 4” ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) ,and the red leader’s jersey. With his 10” time bonus as stage winner and 8” gap on overnight leader Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff), Moreno move into the race lead by 1” ahead of the Irishman.
Although ORICA-GreenEDGE looked after Simon Gerrans in the build-up to the finish, Gerrans lost contact with the front group over the category two climb that signalled the start of the business end of the race. Simon Clarke and Christian Meier flew the flag for the Australian outfit in the final, with Meier ultimately rounding out the top 30 and Clarke crossing the line in 31st place.
On Saturday, Meier answered fan questions about his day. Today, he walks you through the stage in his own words.
With a hillier sort of stage today but without big mountains, the plan today was to have a sort of go with Gerro. The main obstacles of the stage included a cat two climb that came about 20km from the finish and then a steep ramp to the line. We hoped to keep Gerro well-positioned and set him up for a dig just before the finish.
The day started off relatively easy. The break went straightaway, which was nice after yesterday. Pretty quickly BMC came to the front to set up the pace. We all knew they were looking to set up Philippe Gilbert . Katusha also threw a guy up there. With the two teams working together, the chase was clearly under control, so it was pretty cruisey for the rest of us until the last 50km or so when the road started going up and down.
We had talked about where wanted to be in the build-up to the cat two climb. Clarkey and I looked after Gerro. The other guys were sort of in conservation mode once we hit the climb. I got over the top in the front group with Clarkey, and Gerro was just behind us.
After the cat two, there was a super technical downhill run in that lasted almost to the last 2km. The front bunch was already reduced, and it split up even more in the last few kilometres of the technical bits towards the bottom of the descent. We lost contact from the front group briefly but ran back into them coming into the final kilometre.
In the end, we didn’t achieve what we wanted in terms of results. Clarkey and I finished 49” behind Moreno and Gerro was in a group that crossed the line in 1’45. Still, it was good to stretch the legs, and I think this a good exercise for Gerro looking forward to the World Championships. We went through the motions although we didn’t get the result, and it was successful in that regard.
This is probably the first you’re hearing from us about Gerro since his crash earlier in the week. I’m happy to report that he’s pretty close to his best again. It takes longer than you might think to recover from a crash even when there are no broken bones, but we’re fortunate to have some really good staff here who have worked with him every day get everything back into order. Slowly but surely he’s come around, and I suspect he’ll be back to his best any day now.