My third Vuelta has just begun. A beautiful start in the region of Galicia, somewhere I haven’t seen much of before, and a team time-trial which seemed very sane compared to last year’s beachside footpath antics.
My IAM Cycling team brought a solid squad to the race, guys for the hills, the sprints, and the breakaways. We got off to a fine start against the clock, but are eagerly awaiting any chances for stages over the next three weeks.
In every Grand Tour, there are multiple storylines. This year’s Vuelta has its fair share. You hear them around the peloton, on the net, over social media. One rider coming back from injury. Another looking for revenge. A neo-pro on the verge of breakout success or an old hand riding the last race of an illustrious career.
But the headlines only tell part of the story, maybe the one of various leaders, the who’s who, the cream of the crop. In a Grand Tour, however, it’s not only the stars who have a tale to tell. Every rider in the race writes his own along the way.
Whether it’s a sprinter suffering to the finish, spending every ounce of energy he has to make it over that one last climb, or about a domestique leaving everything on the road in support of his leader, each one is different. And like every good story, these three weeks in Spain will be full of emotion. Triumph, loss, anger, sadness, fear, stress, joy.
As for me, this year, my story is all about the fight. By now, most people who follow cycling will have seen that my team, IAM Cycling, is closing its doors at the end of the season. After two fruitful years here, I’m left to look for pastures new.
It is no easy task. No, with multiple teams folding [Tinkoff are also closing – Ed] and a massive influx of riders on the market, it leaves very little space for finding a new home. There is only one solution: to fight. Fight for a stage, fight to show myself at the front of the race, fight to display strength, to show courage, to show heart.
Fight for my team-mates, fight over the mountains and into the wind. Across the plains, in the sun, the rain, the cold and the oppressive heat. Because in this Vuelta, I’m not just fighting for a good race, or a little result. I’m fighting for my life.
I’m fighting for the life I have worked so hard to establish for myself over the last four years in the WorldTour. The life I once dreamed of, the one that sometimes seems so difficult and fickle, the one that I have grown to love and deeply appreciate.
So these next three weeks here in Spain are about leaving it all on the road. Getting the most out of myself, giving it my all, and showing what I’m made of. With the help of Rouleur, I will share my story. My highs, my lows, my climbs and descents, my bumps, bobbles, defeats, and glories (hopefully a few).
My story may or may not make the headlines, but whether it does or not, it doesn’t really matter. Because if there is one thing I have learned over my few years in this sport, is that the most satisfying thing is not always the results or successes. No, the most satisfying thing is when you can go to the dinner table without regrets, knowing that for better or worse, on a given day, you truly gave it your best. Knowing that you went “all in”.
And after the course of my ride around Spain, I hope I can roll over that finish line in Madrid with a smile on my face, knowing I had nothing more to give.
I don’t want my story to end here. No, I have many more chapters to add and volumes to come.
So tighten your laces, your straps or your Boas, and join me for the ride.