In His Own Words: Leigh Howard on Tour de San Luis Stage 5

Sat 26 Jan 2013

It was a quiet day for ORICA-GreenEDGE in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis. Having studied the stage five profile in the race book, the team had thought there was a chance Leigh Howard could make it over the category one climb with the bunch. When the race hit the mountain ahead of the finish, it quickly became obvious that it was more difficult than the profile suggested. Howard slipped into the grupetto to save his legs for Sunday’s likely sprint. He checked in following the stage to tell you about his day.

You guys reading this probably know just as much about how the end of the race unfolded as I do. I only know what I read about it on the Internet once I got back to the hotel. As soon as we hit the big climb, Mitch Docker, Christian Meier and I took it easy on the ride in. We knew right away that we were never going to make to the finish with the front group.

Before the stage, we had hoped that there was a possibility I would come to the line with the front group. I was climbing strong two days ago, so it didn’t seem like it was THAT big of an ask. You can only go on the book when you don’t know the roads, and the profile in the book gave us the idea that this was possible.

The climb turned out to be twice as hard as we had expected, and the peloton raced up it full gas. I think the stage was bit more decisive than anyone imaged it would be. Personally, I thought the overall contenders would wait until tomorrow to do battle on the summit finish. Today’s stage included the big climb, of course, but we didn’t finish on the top. After cresting the summit, there was a downhill before a rolling run into town.

Until we hit the climb, the day was actually super easy. A two rider breakaway went up the road from the start, and they built up maximum advantage of 18 minutes. Things turned hard quickly as soon as we hit the climb. The roads were a rough, cement surface with some really steep parts. It was a definitely a finale that suite the smaller climbers.

Tomorrow looks much harder than today by the profile alone. I’ll look to save as much energy as I can and hopefully have another crack to win a stage on the last day of racing.