Monday, March 10, 2014

Breaking things up! Stage 2 Taiwan

Stage 2 of the tour of taiwan like all other days racing in asia had the potential for anything to happen! 150km, an absolute howling gale all day and a nasty little climb at the mid point meant there was plenty of opportunity for the race to blow apart. Our race plan today was extremely simple, when the race blew apart ensure we had as many riders as possible in the front group! Simple hey?? Well while its not as simple as it sounds the best way we figured to ensure this happened was stay at the front all day, follow every attack and at any opportunity to ride hard in the cross winds we would get organised and do just that. Really I was licking my lips at the prospect of what would transpire today, I seem to enjoy days that are on from the gun and pretty hard from start to finish.

As expected from the drop of the flag it was on like donkey kong. Attack after attack after attack had the us covering the first 50km in well under an hour, we were hammering. At around 40km's we hit the first real crosswind section and its was time to marshell the troops and drop the hammer. The race split apart and our whole team was in the front, PERFECT! Unfortunately however the cooperation was not there and the race eventually regrouped as we approached the climb at the midpoint of race. While our first plan to split the up had been nullified we still had our second plan of the day to implement, that being form a selection on the climb so we perched ourselves on the front and waited to implement plan B.

Alberto Volpi our sports director at this race, instructed me in mornings meeting to ride a pace that formed a selection of 20-25 riders over the top of the climb. We did not want any less than this as we still had some 70km to race to the finish after the climb so was important to split up the race but in so doing form a strong front group. Yesterday I mentioned how excited I was to be riding alongside jean marc marino and davide formolo, I said I am pretty sure they will become my most favourite team mates this season!! Well as I predicted today they certainly confirmed that and we enjoyed a great day on our bicycles together. Ted and Boivin did an awesome job ensuring we started the climb right at the front and in the perfect position to follow acceleration's of the front of the bunch. Ted stands around 7foot tall on a bicycle, yes I believe he grows an extra foot when he throws his leg over his cannondale evo and in so doing provides perhaps the best shelter from the wind of any rider in the bunch. Boivin is a bike handling and positioning extraordinare so with ted following him, and the 3 of us behind, its no surprize jean marc, formolo, and I arrived at the climb in the perfect position but also as fresh as could be, it was now time to swing into action with plan B!

A few attacks went and we quickly covered them. Then as the road pointed more upwards formolo started drumming out a ferocious tempo in much the same way he has done in all his races this year. It was so furious infact that not only was I suffering to hold on but I was certain that there would be no more than a few of us left at the top. While that would have been great to try and drop most of the field it would have meant a large group behind to chase and that's why alberto wanted us to try and keep 20-25 in the front to ensure as many teams were represented and we would have a better chance of keeping the group clear on the 70km dash to the finish. So with that being said I hard to curb the enthusiasm of our young buck in formolo and take over the pace making at a more firm but fair pace to force this selection as was planned. We only had around 2km to the top so I figured if I tapped out a tempo of between 450-500watts then there should still be 20 or more guys left in the front and all would be tickedy boo to have the horsepower to stay clear to the finish. Also at this pace you are going fast enough that once guys are dropped you can quickly put good time into them so that was the numbers I settled on. Fortunately my move to the front worked out as planned. The whole field seemed happy to let me dictate terms and over the top we had around 15 guys with a small group of 10 or so not far behind and consequently quickly joined us and we set sail for the finish.

The makeup of the group was perfect with pretty much every team represented. The most exciting part for me was my 2 favourite team mates where up there with me and had big beaming smiles on there dials as we rode hell for leather to fend of the spirited chase from the pack behind. I was so happy to have these 2 guys with me up as we had committed to a plan and had worked perfectly as a team to make it happen. Being a relatively new group its awesome when we come together and think together so early in the season. Onto the flat and the whole group worked well. Le pomme had the most riders in the front with 4 riders to our 3 and certainly look very organised and powerfull in taiwan this week. Hats of to them as they would also eventually win the stage which they most certainly deserved to do. Having Jean Marc, a frenchman, in our team gave us a little advantage and he was a great translator and communicator with the french guys. Basically as our teams had the balance of power in numbers if we did not work well together then the break would not work so Jean Marc's peacekeeping communication became invaluable to the success of not only splitting the race up initially be ensuring it stayed well and trully split up!!

So the group worked extremely well together and eventually the spirited chase from the peleton fizzled out with around 15km to go and we pulled out a big margin. I must admit I was simply happy to have formed a GC selection and had conceived that group sprint was inevitable and deserved considering how well all the riders in the group had cooperated and worked together to make it survive. Formolo and Jean marc were a little more aggressive and tried to fire me up to go on the attack but truth be told I was not up for it today. I had done a lot of work on the front and felt I had had a good work out so was happy to be in the front and see what I can do about moving up on GC another day. Jean Marc proved to be an absolute all rounder and while he had committed to pulling the peleton all day yesterday and the breakaway today he also contested the sprint ending up 4th or 5th which was awesome. In case I haven't mentioned it before he is a real legend of a bloke and bloody awesome bike rider so am so pleased he has found his was into wearing the cannondale green. Formolo and I need to get back into the gym and crank out some more leg presses if we are going to become bunch sprinters as we were left flapping around somewhere in the top 15. So while we dismally failed to get the stage win we did show we were a strong team. Its probably me that needs to take the blame for not being more aggressive in the final part of the stage but in all honesty I used up a lot of fuel ensuring that selection made it to the finish and in the end there were plenty of guys much quicker than me in the sprint to the line. I need to get away alone I'm afraid as I can't rely on my sprint and in the final km's I didn't have the horsepower to get the gap so the result is what it is today.

Now we are in a good position as far as the general classification goes. There are a couple more harder stages to come so we will look to try and do something there. From my perspective it was a great day from a team perspective. We had a plan and we stuck to it. That in itself gives us great confidence heading into the coming stages. Also it was awesome to spend the day up the road with jean marc, and formolo, now certainly well and truly 2 of my favourite dudes to race my cannondale bicycle with!

Todays race data
Distance: 150km
Time: 3hrs 30min
Ave heart rate: 150BPM
Max Heart rate: 190BPM
Ave Power: 310 watts
Max Power: 1100 watts

Cjw
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