Travis McCabe writes exclusively for Factor Bikes about his first race of the season at Vuelta a San Juan.
I’m used to the heat and being a desert rat myself, I don’t mind it, but it’s still a shock to the system. No amount of sauna training can prepare you for the intensity. What do you do when you’re in an area with an average of 90cm of rain a year and average summer temps in the 40s? You suck it up, put on a lot of sunscreen, and you race.
I get it. It’s what Tour of California was to me for so many years. If you look at the history of the race, this is where Fernando Gaviria first stormed onto the scene by whooping up on Cavendish and all the other WorldTour sprinters. It catapulted him into the WorldTour and onto a trajectory as the top sprinter in the world! So, yeah, it can change your life. And, because of that, it seems as though many riders just quit caring about the safety of themselves and others.
San Juan has always felt like a bit of a stressful race, but this year seemed to be exceptionally crash-marred. It seemed like there was a crash every day, with racers taking unnecessary risks in the hope of getting a result.
The pandemonium began right away with Stage 1, which saw several riders hitting the deck. The largest crash happened within the last 4km of the race, and several GC riders touched down. One of my ex-teammates and good friends was ultra unfortunate and crashed twice. The first time he dislocated his shoulder and had to have spectators put it back into place before hopping back on the bike. If that isn’t hardcore, I don’t know what is.
You may think road bikers aren’t tough because we wear spandex, but if you ever meet one of us, ask to see our road tattoos (scars) and ask us about our worst injury. You’ll be surprised to hear some of the war stories we have locked up.
Back to the racing. It didn’t help that I hadn’t raced since August, so I was a bit rusty when it came to the lead-out and sprint. Fortunately, Rudy Barbier was a sharp as an Argentinian steak knife, coming up big with a Stage 1 win along with a 2nd, 3rd, and 6th on the other stages. It’s safe to say that although this race was hectic, it was a huge success for the team.
I feel like the results already speak for themselves, but damn, it’s fast. I know the equipment isn’t everything in this sport, but when it comes down to a 70+ km/hr sprint, aerodynamics matter, and having a fast, responsive, and trustworthy bike is the difference between winning and losing. Being equipped with the Factor ONE is a huge confidence booster, and I’m so excited to be pedaling one of the fastest bikes in the world.
We all came together and gave a lead-out for Rudy Barbier in Stage 5, showing our professionalism as a team. Even though we only came away with 3rd place, it was still a success in our eyes and proof that there are bigger and better results to come.
Next, is making it through another 24-hour travel day now as I leave the desert sun of Argentina to the high altitude of Colombia. I can’t wait for Colombia. It’s one of my favourite countries. The food is incredible, the riding is breathtaking, the people are amazing and beautiful, and they are in love with cycling. So here we go, more South American Racing, please!
Part 3 coming soon.
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