In His Own Words: Michael Hepburn on Tour de Poitou Charentes Stage TwoWed 28 Aug 2013
Michael Albasini narrowly missed the podium on the second stage of Tour of Poitou Charentes. Following a hectic day over lumpy terrain, Albasini sprinted to fourth behind back-to-back stage victories and race leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne Séche Environnement) and Maxime Vantomme (Crelan-Euphony).
Overall contenders Luke Durbridge, last year’s Tour of Poitou Charentes winner, and Michael Hepburn followed wheels on the steep, punchy hill to the finish in the hopes of staving off time gaps ahead of Thursday’s time trial. Ultimately, the pair lost 8” to the front group of 27 riders that finished on the same time as Bouhanni.
Hepburn checked in from the massage table to describe the difficult day of racing in his own words.
The stage today was a lot harder than we expected in the first 100km. There were several different groups that got off the front but nothing really stuck. Everyone was racing really aggressively. I’m not really sure what they were hoping to accomplish.
Finally, in the second half of the stage, a group of six riders went away and stayed away. The break of the day, if could really call it that, never gained more than two or three minutes. The peloton set a fast pace behind to keep the six in check.
We had Fumy Beppu working with FDJ.fr and one Movistar rider during the last 60km. Their work brought the break back inside the last 10m, so it was altogether for the finish. The last bit of racing today was tough. There were two short categorised climbs. Jens [Mouris] and Fumy did a good job of keeping me and Durbo out of trouble.
[Sport Director] Lionel [Marie] had suggested that it could be a good day for Alba, so Brett [Lancaster] looked after him in the final. Brett got Alba in a really good position, and Alba had a crack, running fourth in the end.
For me and Durbo, it was about going full tilt up that last little climb to the finish with the bunch. We hoped that we did enough to get the same time as the stage winner, but we weren’t sure how they would score it in the end. It was all single file, and there no gaps that I could see ahead of me. I learned later that we finished 8” back, but most of the other guys that will ride a good time trial tomorrow have the same gap as us, so it’s not really a problem. We’ll just have to make sure we’re quick tomorrow!
Today was definitely a much more difficult day compared to yesterday. It was raced really aggressively. The parcours was lumpier, and teams seemed much more stressed. There was no time during the day where we could relax or sit up and have a nature break Yesterday, there several times in the day that felt cruisey.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad day for the team. We lost Travis [Meyer]. He wasn’t having a great day, and it wasn’t a nice stage not to be on a good day. It’s disappointing for him and the team, but apart from that, we all made it through, and we’re not fussed about the time loss.
Tomorrow is a big day. We have a 110km fairly flat road stage in the morning. It will involve running through the same motions we’ve run through these last two days. We’ll look to stay out of trouble and keep bunch time.
The time trial is in the afternoon tomorrow, and we suspect that it will be the biggest factor for the general classification. We’re pretty amped for it. I’m ready to go out there and give it everything. Durbo and a couple of the other guys are going to give it a crack, too.
After the time trial, we’ll have to see how things have shaken out for us in terms of the overall. We’re hoping we’ll be up there with multiple cards to play. Following the time trial, there’s one more stage on Friday. It’s a really hard day. Whatever happens tomorrow, if we want any chance for the overall, we’ll need all hands on deck come Friday.