It's been a great week for Omega Pharma Quickstep here in San Luis, Argentina. To recap, our sprinter Francesco Chicchi won the first two stages as he and Tom Boonen went 1 and 2 on the 2nd stage. Stage 3 was the first Mt finish and I finished 2nd to Alberto Contador but took the lead and the victory in the next day's 19.5km time trial. Stage 5 ended with a brutal 7km climb that saw 2km of it averaging 15%. Alberto won again but I had a relatively easy time defending the jersey thanks to the massive work done by Bert Grabsch, Frantisek Rabon, Sylvain Chavanel, Francesco and Tommeke. Yesterday's stage 6 was another field sprint won by Liquigas' Elia Viviana but the landscape overshadowed the racing as we got to see some of the most beautiful country in the world. Argentina is amazing and I'm glad I came to see it. The helicopter ride from the finish of stage 5 back to San Luis was an awesome experience for Alberto, Vincenzo Nibali and myself. All I can say is there's a vast amount of land! I would compare it to parts of the southwest US with its high mountain deserts.
So today was the last day, a relatively easy flat 160km stage in and around the city of San Luis. Bert and Frantisek Rode hundreds of kilometers on the front all week pulling the peloton along and half the time stretching it out in the wind until groups are chopped off! It's been very impressive to see the work these guys are capable of. Bert is a machine, he can pull all day on the front and then still be the strongest pulling in the end when the sprinter's teams start working to close the gap to the break.
Thanks to all my teammates, staff, sponsors, my friend and mechanic Glenn, the people of Argentina and to Mr Patrick Lefevre and Mr Zdenek Bakala for this victory and great start to the 2012 season. I'm happy to be a part of this well organized and super professional team!