In His Own Words: Leigh Howard on Tour de San Luis Stage 6

Sun 27 Jan 2013

Leigh Howard has his sights set on the projected sprint finish on Sunday on the final stage of Tour de San Luis, so he conserved as best he could on the penultimate day of racing. While Howard saved his legs, his teammates were part of the early action ahead of the summit finish on Mirador del Sol. In his own worlds, he tells you about ORICA-GreenEDGE’s role on stage six.

It was a really hard stage. We were expecting a difficult day, but this was even harder than we expected. It took a long time for things to settle down in the bunch. Originally, quite a big group went up the road. We had [Michael] Albasini in that group. Saxo-Tinkoff wasn’t very happy with this group, so they pretty much put the hammer down starting at the bottom of the category two climb. It was enough to bring back Albasini’s group after about an hour of racing.

New attacks went after that large group was caught, and eventually another group was able to get away. This time it was only five riders, and we had Pieter Weening in the break. This was a good situation for us, as Pieter is probably the strongest climber we have here. With the mountain finish, we knew Pieter would do well if the break stayed away.

It became quite obvious very quickly that Saxo wasn’t interested in letting the move stay away. The group never gained more than three minutes. The general classification riders were very interested in the stage win, and they kept the breakaway at a reasonable distance, so they could reel them back to the bunch whenever they were ready.

As I said yesterday, when it’s my job to conserve, I lose contact with the peloton as soon as the initial selection is made, and I rarely knows what happens in front of me beyond what I hear and read after the race. Today, Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) won the stage ahead of Daniel Diaz (San Luis Somos Todos). Diaz retains the overall lead ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC) with one stage left to race. Christian Meier was our best finisher in 48th place, 4:26 behind Contador.

Tomorrow’s stage could end in a bunch sprint. I conserved as much energy as I possible could today, but it was really hot out there – and no matter how much I tried to save, it was a struggle. The profile tomorrow suggests an uphill sprint. While I was really satisfied with my uphill sprint on stage two, this one looks a bit different. It’s not merely an uphill drag, the road kicks up three kilometres from the finish. It will be a tough sprint if it comes down to a bunch kick.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes. I’ll do my best to be up there in sprint if that’s how the race unfolds.