#BehindTheStripes: An insiders view from Ruta Del Sol

I left Lucca with lots of nerves and excitement on 17th of Feb on route to my first European race of the 2014 season, Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Del Sol. The tour started with a 7km prologue on a very interesting circuit with lots of action and corners. Not knowing what to expect I warmed up like always and gave it my all which I found out was 39 seconds off the winners time.

After not having the greatest start, I went into the 189 KM stage 1 with plenty of motivation fuelled by our new director Manel Lacambra. The plan was to get into the day’s break and be part of the action. I started right at the front and the move slipped away sraight after the KM 0 sign with myself and 10 other riders.

The biggest time gap we had was 6 minutes but I knew chances of us staying away until the end will be very slim. With about 30 KM to go our breakaway split up and I was away with 3 other riders which also got swallowed up by a splintered main bunch with 9km to go but I was happy to be infront and challenge the peloton to almost stay away.It was a very hard day with just under 4000m of climbing and lots of watts squeezed.

Next up was a 197 km stage 2 where Sergio had a good ride and finished close to the front on the hilltop finish, but let me fastforward to stage 3.

This was the main stage for our team where we had the biggest chance of winning with Gerald in the sprint so it was a very important day for us. After another motivational speech from Manel we were ready to attack like the “Lions of Africa”. We looked after Gerald and the whole team delivered him perfectly to the line which he won with only a few mm.

When we got back to bus we weren’t sure if he won or not but when we got the good news, we all went crazy. We finished the day with some nice bubbly and went to bed looking forward to the 4th and last stage of the tour. We started with a massive climb at the start so everyone was very nervous. We had Linus in the break with 5 others and it was definitely not an easy day in the peloton.

All our riders got over the climbs so we were going to set it up for the sprint again but it didn’t go our way and ended with no result after some confusion in final kilometres.

All in all I am very happy with my condition and the team was riding really well together and all riders looking strong so with loads of ambition we go into the Belgium classics starting on 1st of March with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Jaco Venter

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