Phil Gaimon Journal: Rough starts at the Tour of California

The Garmin-Sharp rider talks about a pre-race illness and a stage 1 crash that plagued the team in California

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Garmin-Sharp has been plagued by some bad luck this year, and this race—while it was no TTT pileup—certainly hasn’t started like we’d hoped.

Lachlan Morton had visa drama and couldn’t make it to the U.S. Meanwhile, after a long spring, Alex Howes was told to rest when he came back from Romandie, so he put the bike away for a few days. Then he was called in to take Lachlan’s spot. He brought a stomach bug with him, and has spent most of the time at this wonderful Doubletree hotel on the toilet. Last night, he slept in two pairs of shorts, just in case. Alex said it was OK to tell you about that.

The start was pretty relaxed, and a couple domestic guys were overheard joking that UCI WorldTour races were supposed to be hard. I remember being one of those guys (and thinking the same thing) a few years ago.

The stage was hot and just under 200 kilometers, which would have felt really long if I hadn’t been racing in Europe all spring. It looked to be a field sprint, and in the end it was, but in the middle, things were much more complicated, with a nasty crosswind section that tore the field apart and put us in a bad position. I need to check a video to see what happened because the split was bizarre. I��ve raced enough to have that “Oh s—t! Better get to the front!” moment when it gets fast and windy, but this time, the split happened before it even got looked dangerous. I looked up, decided to start moving up, and noticed that the split had already happened.

Then it got difficult. I was suffering back in the cars when JV (Jonathan Vaughters) leaned out the window and said (yelled), “Get to the front! Everyone has to chase! Now!” So we did, and it came back, with help from other teams, and eventually a headwind stretch.

Then Rohan Dennis, a favorite for Monday’s TT, got knocked to the ground. I didn’t see it happen, but I saw the bloody towel he used to clean up after the stage, and his beat-up helmet. The day after a crash, riders often find themselves with good legs, thanks to whatever chemicals your body releases when you hit the deck, so he’s still looking forward to the TT. The day after that, well, that usually sucks.

No one lost time, and both Tommy Danielson and Janier Acevedo are looking good (Alex Howes is looking skinny, but for the wrong reasons).

And those domestic riders who joked that the race was easy? They didn’t make it back to the group in the crosswinds. I remember being one of those guys, too.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.