Wednesday, April 30, 2014

turkish slippery dip!

We had a novel sort of a day for stage 4 here at the tour of turkey. The stage was short with a few rollers which came in the final 20km so a shoot out with the sprinters that can handle a few speed humps was expected. As with the previous sprint stages 1 and 2, a small easy to control break was let lose and after yesterday's leg snapping day in the mountains everyone seemed happy with the situation. We started in barmey conditions, it was almost 30 degrees when the flag dropped, but grey clouds on the horizon threaten to ruin a tanning day for the peleton!

I have commented on a few occasions about the type of road surface here in turkey. I actually like it as its that gravelly type ash felt but instead of being the aussie dark grey it's a light cream tint. It's not only the colour that resembles a slate of marble but the gravely surface appears to be millions of mini marbles stuck ontop in the hope that it give a car grip. Well when the roads dry it seems fine, not anything out of the ordinary but sprinkle some water ontop and you may aswell be trying to ride on a wet sheet of smooth marble! It's simply put the most unridable surface I have ever encounter in the rain! 2 years ago we had 1 day in the pouring rain and while the team had planned for this and brought me tyres from Paris roubaix, nice and thick and strong, it was still one of the most unique days I have ever witnessed on the bike. It was 220km long and by the end only 30 riders remained in the front. Not so much because the stage terrain was difficult but basically because at one point or another 120 people hit the deck, often a number of times. I remember witnessing 4 riders crash trying to attack on a climb! As soon as they stood up and accelerated, boof! Down they went! So I had this experience and obviously when the rain drops started on a short climb knowing a nasty decent was to follow, I made sure I was right at the front and formolo was right behind me. Sure enough another team with a past winner in astana knew the risk and just as I got to the front they stormed forward and started setting a fiersome tempo. Formula 1 and I slotted into the 4th and 5th positions behind the pace setters so was a case of being in the right place at the right time!

Sure enough the group shattered on the 2km climb, astana were going full tilt to ensure there GC man went down the other side at the front. Formolo and I were sitting pretty although working solidly to do it and as we crested the top of the climb we braced ourselves for what was most likely going to be the most slippery decent we had ever tackled when suddenly my mate adam Hanson saddled up beside me!

Adam has done this race a few times and knew this decent very well. He informed me a mere 200m from the plunge down the other side that this is a really really dangerous decent and he thought we should let some air out of our tires for it. I would never argue with adam and promptly pulled over and let out around 100psi or 6 bars a and re mounted with MTB pressure in my kenda's! This may seem a bit brash in the middle of the race but we were at the front with the peleton scattered all over the mountain behind thanks to astanas pace making and in 15seconds tops we were back on our bikes. People laughed at us as they passed but soon we were the ones content with our decision. First corner, 10 down including the race leader. Second corner another 10, 3rd another bunch and so on. Basically riders were tumbling down like a set of domino's and by the bottom adam and I were back at the front! It was chaos. Riders would spot a crash happening 100m ahead, reaf on there breaks to anticipate going around it and consequently form another pile up. Basically put if the decent was any steeper than the 6% that it was then we would have had to walk down it! One rider who knew the decent aswell as adam was the bull himself Andrei Greiple. He knew the danger and what was going to happen and promptly got of his bike and went down the decent in the team car! Takes some singers to risk getting disqualified but hats off to him for taking a stand. Not surprisingly as soon as we reached some flat ground the race officials make the sensible decision to neutralize the stage until the conditions became safe to race again. So that was the little bit of drama today so back to the race.

After the restart we had around 100km to run. Ironically the man who risked disqualification by protesting earlier in the stage put his team on the front to what seemed like setting himself up for the sprint. Therefore the remaining 100km was extremely controlled and above all the riders felt safe again. The only obstacle between us and the finish was a couple of short fast climbs in the final 20km, not decisive enough to cause to much damage but enough to put the sting in the pins. Not surprisingly all the sprinters got over the climb in the front and results sheet read similar to that to stages 1 and 2. I made sure formolo was safe and sound and up the front and then started drifting to the back to wait for elia to arrive and get him back to the front. Sure enough he tacked onto the back of the mainfield around 4km from the finish and immediately let me know he was there and to go. The group was single file and going full gas so I knew if I didn't move immediately we wouldn't get him back into a sprinting position. So off we went and I was full tilt, 100 riders strung out is a long long line and not easy to pass 1 rider let alone 100 when the peleton is rocketing along at 60kmph. Anyways I spotted krisek way up ahead and knew I just needed to get elia to him and then krizek would do what he could in the final km's. We got back to belly of the bunch and elia left my wheel to find krizek and now was in the lap of the gods a little how his sprint would go. In the end krizek continued to impress by guiding elia forward and in the end elia would be 5th. Considering where he had to come from in the final 5km it was a pretty good result so in the end we were content. Formula 1 formolo moved up a place on the GC so was another positive day for the team. We are certainly improving everyday on looking out for each other so looking forward with anxious anticipation to see what we can do in the next 4 stages.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

stage 3 tour of Turkey

Today we had the Queen stage of the 2014 tour of turkey. 3 long climbs between 12-22km in length all neatly spaced out along a 182km stage was always going to see who the strongest rider in the race was. I was super confident for today, perhaps to much as I would find out at days end so started the stage full of optimism. All the cannondale boys were pretty spritely this morning actually after two good sprint stages it was time to see what formula 1 formolo and I could do in the hills.

The stage on paper I thought was an absolute beauty. 3 longs climbs totaling almost 50km in combined length and merely 10km of depending all day. Basically meant it was a recipe for a brutally hard day from start to finish and when you through in a road surface that was somewhere in between hotmix and gravel you basically needed to have some pressure on the pedals all day long. Usually these days are the ones I really look forward to as its like doing 5hrs on the home trainer which oddly enough I greatly enjoy just without my big 3d TV, austar cable, and of course an endless supply of old cycling movies! With the first climb after 30km the chances where things would not hot up until then and surely when we started the first of our 3 monster climbs the group was all together but that didn't last long!

I had been hoping for this as I felt it was my best chance to get away in a strong breakaway. In 2011 a similar stage played out when I did just that and it ended up deciding the GC, alas no matter how attentive or aggressive I was it just didn't happen. Attack after attack ensured on the first climb and the group was scattered all over the place. The climbers were obviously all to the fore but also nobody was isolated and had members of there team around them. This meant that when a group formed it always was missing one strong team. Added to that, we'll atleast I found out when I was in what I felt was a dangerous move nobody wanted to work to get it away. A team may have had a rider in the group but I may not have been there GC man so with the presence of other GC riders from other teams they off course did not help and ultimately killed the momentum and you would be brought back. So try as I might to get something going it just didn't happen and as often happens after an absolute bull tearing start to a stage a cease fire is called and small group slips away and everybody goes super easy, one extreme to the next and tool 70km for that to occur today. The broken group reformed and we headed to the second climb at a very leisurely pace.

Onto the second and longest climb of the day and I slotted myself in up the front with formula 1 formolo. The pace was pretty cruisy for the first half before the south African team MTN forced the issue in the second half. This would half the size of the peleton by the top not surprisingly and also put the sting in some legs. One set of legs I noticed it wasn't stinging was formolo who was impatiently sitting behind me. I say impatiently as he kept on cruising up beside me I could tell just itching to open up the throttle. I had to have a quick word with him to just cool the jets and as its a headwind he is better nestling himself in behind my big frame and saving his energy. He reluctantly agreed and slotted into the slip stream. Infant I can't remember being more than 1m away from formolo much of the day except in the beginning when we were trading turns covering moves and in the final 5km when I imploded but more on that later. Formolo as I have said is my favorite team mate and for some reason we cruise through the bunch well together, whether it me following him or him following me it doesn't matter, I always feel calm in the race knowing he is there. Anyways so over the top of the climb and now was just a 50km flat drag to the base of the final 12kick to the line. I started feeling a little light headed at the top of the 2nd climb but shook it off and slammed another caffeine gel, unfortunately this turned out to be a big flashing warning sign that would bite me on the backside on the final climb.

On the flat there was another re grouping of sorts and formolo and I were joined by our strongmen. Marunga motorbike marongoni, our austrain strongman, and GB the Canadian cannonball were all present and accounted for and quickly set up a wall of defense around formolo and I. These guys are absolute expects at having there men in the right place at the right time and today was no different. When Marunga, Krisek and GB are with you you simply stick it into auto pilot and follow there wheels, it's so relaxing. The boys were simply awesome and what made me feel the best was how positive they were. They told me I looked like I was spinning really well which was great as it backed up how I felt! They wanted to ride on the front and to back myself but I said just wait and see what happens, probably was a sign that in the back of my mind I knew something just felt a bit off! As we approached the final climb it was a block head wind and the boys were chomping at the bit to get on the front and light it up. Once astana used there final man with 10km to go I couldn't hold krizek back. Marunga and GB had held the front spot into a nasty headwind and krizek drummed out a vicious tempo for a few km that shelled around 50riders. At this point my confidence was growing and when he swung of inside 7km from the line the group that remained was going to fight out the stage. Immediately MTN again took up the pace making and again I was quickly onto the wheel, all was on track as I anxiously awaited the final 3km kick to the line to see what I could do. Then almost in a split second, well perhaps over the course of 20seconds my tank was empty, I was cross eyed and had gone completely hungerflat. Stupid stupid stupid!! I briefly retreated to the back of the group for some extra shelter in a vein hope it would pass put not to be and soon I was unceremoniously dumped out of the back of the lead group. Formula 1 formolo was still spinning those youthful exuberant legs of his away in the first positions so that was a big positive that the rookie was still there flying the green flag! I tried to regain my composure and shoveled down another gel and while at 3km to go I started to make ground and looked like rejoining I again went lights out for good and in the final 2km was wondering if I would even make it to the finish line! I was pushing full gas and thinking I was doing 500 watts but when I looked down I was barely doing 200watts and 8kmph. Lucky the police escorts didn't give me a parking ticket I was going so slow! Anyways once your that far gone there is nothing you can do but grovel to the finish line.

Meanwhile up ahead formula 1 was showing all the class that to be frank he shows every single race. He is having a fantastic debut season with the team and is already a very reliable and valuable team mate on so many fronts. By days end he would arrive in the first 10 in a select group of top climbers and be 9th on GC. He was absolutely cocka hoot with his performance and I know as the week goes on he will only get better so it's going to be exciting seeing what we can do to move him up the leaderboard in the coming days.

Where did I go wrong?? Well I don't exactly know but am guessing it was a combination of many things. Firstly the start was full gas and full of action and as I felt so good, perhaps the best ever, I probably neglected eating and drinking properly in the first 2hours. Yes very stupid and short sighted on a 6hr stage! Secondly once I realized I hadn't got in enough food perhaps I scoffed down a couple of extra gells which contained caffeine and lost track of how much of it I had consumed, on a hot day like today that can be a problem later in the stage. Finally I hadn't done a hard stage like this this year so maby forgot what it takes out of you and not eaten and drank enough for dinner and breakfast this morning, again feeling so good figured would just be another day. So at the end of the day I can pin down exactly the cause of my hunger crisis but it's a safe bet that all of the above contributed. Now I simply need to learn from it and make sure I don't make the same mistake in the important races coming up but trust after feeling as bad as I felt in those final km's and crossing the line not being able to see straight, I won't be letting that happen to me again, that's for certain! One positive about completely depleting yourself of all your fuel stores in the manner I did today is the comeback feed!! It's similar to the experience of the first proper meal back after having food poisoning, food never tasted so good! Oh boy did I enjoy my turkish dinner tonight! It is what it is now and have to move on. That's one great thing about writing this blog as once I put it in writing firstly I own my words and secondly it all seems clearer in what went on, good or bad and I find it easy to put the day behind and look ahead to tomorrow's stage which no doubt will through up another set of surprises.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Turkey Stage 2

It appeared that the fun in the sun had come to an abrupt end this morning. We woke up to grey skies and as soon as we began our 6km trundle down to the start area the heavens opened and we got soaked to the proverbial you know what!! And we hadn't even started the race yet! We quickly signed on and retreated to the van and for the first time in my professional cycling career did a full change of cloths before the race began. Now toasty and warm and ready for a fresh attack on the inclement weather conditions the weather gods decided to smile upon us and when the flag dropped it warm barmy and sunny once again much to everybodies relief. So off we went for stage 2 and on paper looked like it would be a carbon copy of 24hrs earlier and end in a bunch sprint. That suited us just fine and after refining our final 10km execution the cannondale pro clan started stage 2 full of optimism for another great result from elia.

As expected all went to the script from km 0. A small break was set free and the teams of the sprinters quickly gained and maintained tight control on how much rope the escapees would be given. The break never got far away so was nice and calm and relaxed in the group, everybody seemed content for another nice gentle day enjoying the turkish coastline. Our boys like yesterday assembled around elia and we're always alert and ready for any sudden changes in conditions but for the most part it was a very chatty peleton today as everybody caught up with there buddies in the bunch.

Off course I took the opportunity to have a chat with some of my fellow colleges, today most commonly Adam Hanson. Adam is perhaps the most interesting and intelligent cyclist in the peleton. He has a degree in computer programming and as a result is a genius with technology. Most of you who follow the sport would also be aware of the custom shoes adam makes for himself made of carbon fiber. He has 7 pairs here in turkey and plans on wearing a different pair each day. I guess he has probably made 21 pairs for the upcoming giro!! Each sporting a different design, wouldn't put anything by Adam! Yesterday we briefly chatted about him doing up one of his Ferrari's and he said he was making many parts himself. I was quite intrigued by this so asked him a bit of a rundown on how he makes not only his shoes but car parts and no doubt anything else carbon fiber with his bare hands. As always it was an incredibly enlightening conversation and suffice to say I am much more knowledgeable on moulds, silicon, vacuum packs, air pockets, and the different types of sheets of carbon fiber available than I was before the start of stage 2 this morning. I make sure I really pay attention when adam is explaining somthing as he is one of those unique guys who really enjoys sharing his knowledge with you and also likes broadening your knowledge base on the given topic of conversation. We also discussed some intricacies of what he has discovered during his time spent performing his "hobby" or "passion" as he calls it. Discoveries which when he explained to me I feel have the potential to change the direction of certain cycling parifanallia quite substantially in the future!! That's all I will say on the matter as the things he discussed are truly ground breaking discovies so watch his brand hanseno very closely in the future should he decide to commercialize any of these ideas. Anyways was great to catch up with the crocodile man adam Hanson today during the stage.

Back to the race and not a lot to report really. Was basically a carbon copy of yesterday however unfortunately elia got a little out maneuvered in the final scrappy run to the line and finished 7th. Senior Sagan Juraj did a great job helping shut down the early break in the final 15km and like yesterday the remaining 6 of us were on the front at 10km to go. Today we reshuffled the order a little with krizek and I, not intentionally but I just happened to be behind formula 1 formolo when he finished winding up the pace with 5km to go. Elia had again simply asked that we get his leadout man motorbike marongoni as close to 2km to go as possible and from there he would be fine. So kept the big dog rolling for a couple of kms before krisek took over around 3km to go. Marongoni then took his turn and at 1km Elia was right where he wanted to be like yesterday but unfortunately it was all a little scrappy and the result was not what Elia had been planning on. Despite this all the guys did exactly what was asked of them and was certainly even more organized than yesterday so I was really pleased to see the improvement in the cannondale clan from this perspective atleast. It's important when you have one of the fastest sprinters in the world on your team that no matter what team elia is racing with can do the basics in positioning him for a chance to have a crack at the sprint. We don't feel we have the firepower to do a full on lead out train train but certainly a team capable of contributing and see improvement daily in this area is very encouraging for the remainder of the season.

Tomorrow will see a big change in the landscape of the race. We will leave the beauty of the coastline and head inland to the turkish mountains. Tomorrow on paper at least is certainly the queens stage of this year's race and should have the greatest impact on the final general classification. I personally am very excited about tomorrow, it's one of those rare days that basically only goes uphill so after my stint in tenerife climbing up and down the volcano I am looking forward to seeing where all that work has put my climbing condition. So bring on stage 3, I am sure my favourite team mate will be right up the front aswell so will be exciting to also see what his young and enthusiastic legs do to the peleton!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fun in the sun in Turkey!!

For the next 8 days I will be racing my bicycle at the Tour of Turkey. I did the race back in 2011 and absolutely loved it for a wide range of reasons. Firstly I love racing on dead slow roads which turkey seems to have oodles off! The roads remind me of riding in Tassie, Tenerife and Southern California, my 3 favourite training locations. Secondly the stages and race profiles are all evenly balanced offering something for everyone, some simple sprint stages, a couple of harder mountain stages, and some potentially breakaway friendly undulating stages in there aswell. The stages are not super long or super short so the 8 stage events provides the perfect ground for riders to work on their condition and off course opens its up for different types of riders to fight for the overall victory. As a result of the great course design the tour always attracts a high quality field which is always what you want in a national tour. Thirdly and also very important the hotels are of exceptional quality, basically we do a hopscotch up the Turkish coastline from club med to club med. Added to that the food is absolutely mouth-watering! In fact there cherry tomatoes are so deliciously sweet that if you blind folded me I would thing I was eating a lolly. Stick them on a piece of Turkish bread fresh out of the oven and add a little fetta and you have yourself one delightful snack! Most often you ride from the hotel to the start and from the finish you ride directly to your hotel. This is always a really nice and relaxing way to both begin and end the day. I take maximum advantage of having a beach at my doorstep and often go for a swim in the morning and afternoon, offer's the perfect way to wake the body up and also recover after a hard day in the saddle. So that's the tour of turkey, simply put its one of my most favourite races on the international cycling calendar.

Today Stage one got underway in typical tour of turkey style, beside the beach, and bathed in sunshine. Just 141km relatively flat km's was on the menu today and everyone wanted the same thing, I small breakaway to skip away and a nice controlled bunch sprint stage to open the legs and lungs up. The Cannondale Pro squad here is an absolute beauty. We have our team leader and one of the fastest men in the world Elia Viviani as captain of the ship and from day one as expected he led from the front. To support him Alan Motorbike Marongoni will ensure elia is where he needs to be in the final km and Mattias Krisek, the big Austrian powerhouse is as reliable as a pack horse in getting the boys where they need to be. Sagan Snr, Juraj is here aswell and is the unfortunate one who has to room with me for the week! He is the ultimate roommate, falls asleep with all lights and tv blaring and when I wake in the morning he is long gone to breakfast and never disturbs. On the road you can bet your bottom dollar that at the end of the race Juraj is caked in salt and sweat, a clear illustration that on every occasion he gives everything he has for his teammates. Senior sagan is most certainly The ultimate gentleman both on and off the bike. Next up we have GB the Canadian Cannonball whom is Elia's last man up in the sprint. He spent 1 month training with me in Tassie over the summer so is more accustomed than most for the dead roads of turkey. I expect this to give him a nice edge as the tour roles on. Last but no means we have my favourite teammate, Davide Formula Uno Formolo. As usual he has arrived brimming with youthfull enthusiasm and I can't wait to share another week racing with him. Whenever he is around there is nothing other than smiles and laughter, he really the most awesome team mate you could wish for and has a ridiculous amount of talent and horsepower to back it up. And I make up the final member of the 7 cannondale pro machine assembled here for the tour of turkey.

So back to stage 1 and all went to the script. A small break skipped away and the teams of the sprinters quickly had everything under control. We started the day with a simple objective, give elia the best chance to fight for the victory in the expected sprint finish. I personally had been waiting for a day like to today with anxious anticipation. In Stage 4 of tour down under I really let elia down with stupid attack in the final km's when I should have stayed at his side. He finished the day 3rd but wasted a lot of energy and regardless of how much better he could have gone I knew within myself I had cost him an improved result. So I have wanting a chance to race alongside elia since then to have the opportunity to help him as much as possible and let him know that I am not a selfish team mate so was really excited before the start today that I would get that chance.

From the get go today the boys were fantastic. We moved as one in the group and on the odd occasion we were separated we quickly re assembled. Lotto at one point tried to cause some chaos in the cross winds and Elia was quickly on my wheel and off we went right to front before any damage was done. I even joined in with lotto as if these is going to be a split in the crosswind you are always better off being the bat than the ball so figured I would assist in what turned out to be a trial run of things to come during throughout the tour. After this elia quickly said good job for instantly having him in a safe spot so my goal for the day was already being achieved and elia was beginning to trust me again. Yet another example of this came in the final 20km where elia explained to me that in the final 1km Motorbike marongoni will do his final effort to position elia and GB for the final sprint. He said we will pass up the left side so just be ready to take Maranga as far as you can and take the wind and he will do the rest. Now I was brimming with confidence and immediate planted myself on the left hand side of the road even though we were 20km's from the finish. I wasn't going to miss my chance to do this important job for maranga and elia so set up camp where I needed to be probably a little earlier than need be! So all was set and with 15km to run the Cannondale Clan swarmed to the front and took control of the left hand side of the bunch. Not surprisingly leading the charge was mr enthusiastic himself, davide formal!!! And Powerhouse Krisek.

Davide arrived and slotted infront of me. Other teams were working away on the right hand side but davide was wanting to stretch his legs. I tried to hold him back and let quickstep do the work but there was no point, he wanted to open throttle so we let the young buck of the leash. From 15-5km to go formula 1 and powerhouse krisek did and incredible turn that scared of all comers from stting the tempo. I was safely sitting 4th wheel behind the even reliable snr sagan and the other boys lined up behind me. We had control of our left side of the road and I was champing at the bit for the final 3km banner to take Motor bike marongoni as close to the finish as possible. We turned onto the beach front in the perfect spot with around 3km to go. Formolo and Krisek has done an awesome job and now was just up to us to finish it off. I waited patiently for an opening and surged up the left side with the motorbike marunga churning away on my wheel. We flew past 3km to go and at around 2km to marunga left my wheels with gb and elia glued to his. All was going to plan. I actually at this point still felt good and when the road suddenly opened up for me on the right side I charged back the front in search of elia to see if I could give him one final helping hand. I spotted Elia a little boxed in and also spotted cav and quickstep train moving up. I forgot that the other thing elia had requested that in a perfect world he world find Cavs wheel for the sprint. Obviously every other sprinter in the race also wanted it so that was never going to be a given. So when I saw cavs wheel remarkably around 1.5km from finish I jumped on it and waited for Elia. Speaking with elia after the race he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw me perched up on cavs wheel heading toward the final km, he said was the last person he expected to be on the wheel everybody wanted that close to line. Anyway all went to the script as I boxed a few dudes off me and handed the wheel over to Elia around 1km to go and was pretty confident that from that point the end result was going to be either 1st or 2nd. GB of course was there aswell right on elia's wheel acting as body guard so it was really satisfying to see that the team had executed exactly what elia had wanted, the rest was now up to him. In the end Elia would run 2nd which when beaten by only cav is always a great result and I am sure for most sprinters fells like a win. It was so nice to cross the line and have elia with a big beaming smile obviously satisfied with his result. He has come to turkey to build his confidence ahead of the giro so definitely have started of on the right foot. Also for me it brought a big smile to my dial to get a big thanks from elia after the finish. He wouldn't have known anything of my determination to assist him today and that doesn't matter. The most important thing for me today was to ensure that hatchet from Australia was buried when I made that selfish mistake and I can in my own mind move on from that, I never want to have any doubts in my team mates minds that my number one priority is the success of the team and executing what's asked of me.
Back in the group during the day I of course found time to catch up with a few of my buddies in the bunch. The one I spoke most with today actually was the man who would ultimate beat our boy elia to the finish post, mr cav himself. I get along very well with cav and really enjoy chatting with him. I read his book during the giro last year and enjoyed daily chats about that as we progressed on our lap around Italy last may. Cav and I seem to be following a very similar program this year with turkey, California and back to Europe for the tour of Switzerland all on both our race schedule in the immediate future. As a result of the prospect of spending so much time together over the few months we kept our conversation a little briefer than usual as we don't want to waste up our topics of conversation! Not only are we facing similar programs but we also both spent time in southern California in the off season. Today we discussed at length how awesome the training is down there but also the dangers of stacking on the kg's from to many stops at the panickan café in encinites. That place is by far the most unique café I have ever been to. They serve up slabs of cake that I kid you not weigh around half a kg or close to a pound in yanky speak! I love carrot cake, its perhaps up there in my top 3 favourite desserts along with Caramel Slice and pavlova but this carrot was something else. I would demolish these slabs daily as I most certainly became addicted to them along with salted caramel lattes. I live by the slogan that I will only eat what I am prepared to burn off so in this case meant 5-8hours pretty much every day. In fact in the 2 weeks I was there I recall logging 44hrs training and still managed to stack on a kg or 2! Definitely a trap for novices training in the area and cav confided that he to fell for the panickan café curse but fortunately had a team camp immediately afterwards to snap him quickly back into shape and get back to his winning ways. Its not only the café that we chatted about but also the bunch rides down there aswell. I was of the opinion that the Wednesday worlds in camp Pendleton and the Saturday swammies rides are two of the hardest training sessions I have ever done, not surprisingly cav agreed with me so together we came to the conclusion and re-affirmed that socal is one awesome spot to spend the off season and train on your bicycle. Eventually our conversation let to our upcoming travel schedule and how we were getting between all these places. Never know we thought maby we might even get an upcoming flight in or two? As it turns out we wont be as cav loves flying with British airways and me usually delta to the usa. The reason cav insists on traveling ba is he finds it more comfortable and he was ropeable that he missed out on his gold frequent flyer card by a mere 18 points last year!! Gee I had a laugh when he told me that, one a winner always a winner hey no matter if your racing a bike or racing up the frequent flyer status's!!

Before I wrap up I cannot miss the opoportunity to compliment simon gerron's on pardon the pun but a monumental victory today in the final Ardennes classic of 2014. Its been well documented that when gerro tagets something he rarely miss fires and today was no exception. All his rivals knew he was gunning for the win and he was brave enough to let everybody know just that. Do you think they could do anything about it in the end?? Not a chance and it's the way gerro wins that always blows me away. When you see him a position like he was today, a small group at the end of an exceptionally hard race and you know he is the favourite he never ever fails. Today when I saw him in that small group at 400m to go I knew it was a forgone conclusion and I am sure deep down his rivals did aswell. When he kicked like a mule at 200m to go it was game set and match, there was no chance that any of the other greats of the Ardennes classics all lined up his wheel were going to get anywhere near me. Those are the victories which really impress me, the ones where the target is firmly planted on your back and the opponents can do is watch the bullseye ride away from them. Good onya gerro, that was one seriously impressive performance.

That's all from me for now in turkey, it's been a nice day for me and a great day for the team. 2nd was fantastic but for sure we will reload and do what we can to go 1 better with elia tomorrow.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Update from Tenerife

Its been 2 weeks since I landed on the hallowed shores of the island of Tenerife for the Cannondale pro cycling altitude camp. As I explain in as much detail as possible in my previous blog, I really really enjoy coming here!! Well I have to say that the past 2 weeks have done nothing to dampen that enthusiasm for how awesome this spot is to ride your bicycle so here's a little snap shot of what's been happening at the hotel parador and on the slopes of the volcano.

The first few days was spent settling in. That not difficult due the fact I have been here so many times before. Infact I am actually staying in the exact same room as I stayed in 12months ago. That was quite convenient as when you are going to call that hotel room home for the next 3 weeks you want to make it as comfortable as possible. So my first job like it was 12 months ago was to rearrange the furniture to maximize the space in the room. I like to create an area where I can sit on the sofa and write my blogs! And also a comfortable space to perform my pj pilates in then morning and my stretching post ride. These are just little touches that make life in a hotel room that much more homely, you don't want to be tripping over your fit ball every time you get up to grab a glass of almond milk out of the fridge! This may seem fickle but you spend so much time in your hotel room that's it's important you feel as comfortable in it as possible. It's a bit like the team bus at races, you always want to find a spot that you find relaxing as at times you can be aboard it for more time than when your on your bicycle. In the fist few days off course the who's who of cycling started to role into the hotel and was great to catch up with so many familiar faces. 

The cannondale clan has sent to the camp quite a mix of riders with all varying objectives while we are here. Marco Mercato and Alexandro demarchi are here to prepare for the Ardennes classics commencing next weekend. Our young superstar junior Matty mohoric is also racing the classics but at just 19 years of age is more here to experience altitude training and it's effects on his young body. George bennett not surprisingly being just 58kg and moulded perfectly to glide up the side of mountains with consulate ease is not surprisingly relishing his time here. While us big behemoths drag our fat backsides back to hotel everyday you can only look on with envy as he glides along so effortlessly spinning his gear. He is gearing up for a big tilt at the giro. Next up in the team line up is our caption Ivan Basso who os also preparing for yet another crack at winning the Giro d Italia. Ivan has been coming here for over 7 years so know the place like the back of his cycling gloves, we certainly never get lost out training with Ivan. He is not only the captain in the races but also the designated camp captain as we all look to him for guidance and advice on and off the bike. Altitude if done properly can be extremely beneficial however if you don't handle it properly it can also be very detrimental to your performance. That's were having someone of ivan's experience is invaluable for all of us and along with our team trainer Mattia they ensure that we keep our wheels and handlebars steering in the right direction. Of course we are all training hard and that means recovering is super duper important so we are very lucky to have had firstly Carmine and now Simone here to give us a massage at the end of a long day and ready for the next one. It's a great group and while Ivan is certainly the head of the show we all in our own way contribute to the atmosphere of the cannondale clan here at the hotel parador.     

We even had one very special occasion among the cannondale clan while in Tenerife. The occasion was the 24th birthday of our climbing specialist, the kiwi George Bennett. He kept this a very big secret and it was only by chance that I found out it was his birthday. I rolled along side him as we were completing our interval for a de brief and said how you going mate, he said I am "pissed off" he had had a unsettling tummy overnight and was feeling a little out of sorts and on top of that it was his birthday and he wanted to be feeling better!! I said well I am not going to say a token happy birthday to yo now give me the day to find a way to put a smile on your dial and then I will not only say but sing happy birthday to you!! So I cut my training ride short so I could get back to hotel quick enough to order a cake and so the chef had time to prepare it. Also I wanted a special meal for the big day so requested roast lamb as George is kiwi!! Unfortunately at such short notice sew zealand lamb could not be sourced but the finest steak in the canary islands could so that was a good compromise. The chef was super excited about the prospect of preparing the special menu for the evening so I was champing at the bit for dinner to come around and George to have a little surprise waiting for him in the dinning hall. It all worked our fantastic, george was stoked and I finally saw a smile return to his dial. The hotel donated some of there finest red to compliment our meal and not surprisingly we were the envy of the Astana and katusha tables close by. When the cake arrived wewerealready full as a butchers pup but the cake was incredible. Was like a tiramisu but without alcohol and had a final thick layer of rich chocolate just under the icing! Oh it was absolutely delicious. Being a 58kg mountain goat climbing specialist George is always ontop of his diet so didn't indulge to much on the cake. This is my favorite bit about George especially at Deseret time as I meant I also got to eat his unwanted portion of the cake. No matter how much I forced into my belly however we barely put a dent in this monster birthday cake so made plenty of friends amongst the dinning hall when we shared it around. That's really no surprise though as whoever stays at the parador basically becomes like a home away from home, we are all friends there. Anyways it was a great evening and I was just pleased we found the opportunity to say happy birthday in a nice authentic manor.


With so many superstars of the sport around the place and with the experience that goes with that it's no surprise that from time to time you are fortunate enough to learn some valuable lessons. The most interesting and unexpected one I learnt this past week involved Lemons and came form the mouth of vincenzo nibali. Vincenzo spotted me squeezing a lemon into a glass at breakfast as he walked past the table. He stopped and cameron "what are you doing"? Having some fresh lemon juice i replied. He said yes I can see that but are you also going to drink that actimel in front of you and eat that tub of yogurt? Oh and drink that glass of milk you just poured? Yes to all I simply replied. He said, well look I am from Sicily and in Sicily we eat lemons like apples, the are everywhere. They are very good for you and an excellent antioxidant but only when juiced or eaten alone or with simple foods. He then proceeded to show me what happens with lemon juice and milk when mixed together and that it's probably not something I want happening in my stomach! He was spot on and I obviously had no idea about such side effects of having lemon juice in the mornings before breakfast. Who would have thought that it would take Vincenso nibali passing my table at breakfast to learn about how to best utilize the antioxidant properties in a lemon! Well at the hotel parador of course during the month of April!

The dining hall was not the only time I crossed paths with Vincenso over the past 2 weeks. In fact we also shared a couple long climbs together rarely seen among different riders from different teams. It wasn't planned just happened to be on the same stretch of road back to the hotel on the same day. One day particularly we had a very interesting chat about the bike and the technology more specifically on his bike. He was actually training on a bike that the public won't see for a few months so was interesting to here what his bike manufacturer had install for it's new model. Obviously now having a bike on the minimum weight is not a problem, the opposite is more the issue insuring that the bike is heavy enough os more of a challenge for the manufacturers and our team mechanics. Therefore technology these days goes into the type of carbon used and off course where it's a little heavier and a little lighter to maximize ride ability and performance. Vincenso even discussed at length as to how he chooses a comparatively heavy or light front and back wheel depending on the terrain. Not only that but the type of tyre on the front and back, sometimes ones a clincher and ones a tubular and off course varying pressures. All very very intriguing stuff and another great example of why Vincenso is such a champion. Yes he can ride his bike incredibly fast and racing often it seems on pure courage and determination but there is much more to him than the natural super talent you see not the tv. He is an absolute student of his sport and during that one hour pedaling up the chio climb I learnt more about the way a bike can run faster simply by the make up of parts onboard than I have learnt in my entire cycling career. 

So if Vincenso was teaching me something then what did I teach him? Well I have no idea to be honest, I did alot of listening. Also when you are speaking Italian I have to concentrate twice as hard to do my best to get my points across and understand what's coming my way. Also through in the fact we were climbing up to 2200m altitude and breathing is difficult let alone talking and not only that but talking in another language! I do remember however telling how great it is being able to go home to Australia in the summer and train and that he should seriously consider riding down under next year. He seem interested in the idea so who knows maby we will de him in Adelaide in January. From a fan perspective it would be great but from the perspective of having to race him I wouldn't be so good! The tdu course would suit his wide array of characteristics very well so would without a doubt be a big favorite should he venture down under in 2014. When we finally reached the top of the climb our old team coach paolo slongo was waiting with 2 icy cold cans in his hands. When we pulled up he handed them over a can of tonic water to each of us! I have certainly never ever ever downed and ice cold can of tonic water at the summit of a 25km climb before. I gave Vincenso a glance which he knew meant this was my maiden post ride tonic water and simply nodded his head to down it and said "buona", in other words it's good! I have to admit it did taste very good however after 6th IRS on the bike so long as it's cold and sparkling most things taste good to me, infect if you added a dash of gin I would have tasted exceptional! Still it capped of a very enjoyably and rare hour mingling with a rider from another team on the slopes of Tenerife. Thanks Vincenso. 

The sauna

The hotel parador is one of the rare places I like to enjoy an occasional sauna. If you take away the time you spend on the bike, e massage table, and in the dining room, there is absolutely nothing else to do but relax. Some days therefore you have quite alot of spare time on your hands and it's on these days I like to go and relax a little in the sauna. Generally you will find another cyclist or 3 in there and it's generally the same guys each time you go for some reason. Each time I have been to the parador I have had different dudes that I have spent my sauna time with. This time I always seemed to synchronize  my 30minutes of sweating with the Spanish Amada from katusha. Angel vincioso, dani Moreno and of course purrito Rodriguez were there each and every time I was. Actually that's a fib, puritto missed a couple of sessions as he was probably still on is bike!! I thought I liked to do long long hours on the bike but that guy takes the cake, its not by any chance that he is regularly one of the top few riders in the world, he really really works hards and is diligent in every aspect of his profession. So back to the sauna time and it's so funny listening to the spaniards chewing he fat. We discuss the usual cycling things, upcoming races, how long are you staying at the parador for? Will you be coming back again during the season? The sauna is abnormally hot today!! And so on and so on. One conversation i did enjoy eves dropping on and I am sure they were unaware of my understanding of cycling Spanish! Was when they were talking about there training. Wile I did not take any interest in specifics, I am too respectful for that, it was interesting hearing the words used when describing what puritto wanted to the following day on the bike. The most common describing words were "Ostia" "mum ma Mia" "thinko puerto" "manyana???" "quanta venti?" "Ostia" "Ohh la la" and often finish off with another "Ostia". Basically what they were saying was that's going to be an incredibly long and hard day and we have no idea if we are going to survive and guess we will just have to buckle our seat belts and enjoy the ride! And always with a big big shrug of the shoulders as if to say in reality it's nothing new, we are used to suffering through a puritto training session! And I am not surprised they don't mind pushing themselves though it. The katusha Spanish Amada is one of the most successful core groups in the world tour. It's not only purity that wins but also  Danni Moreno who is one of the top riders in the world. Was no surprise to here how the speak and how hard they work as the proof is in the pudding on the results sheets all season long. So my sauna experience was a new one this time around at the parador and I really enjoyed getting to know these guys very much.

Carmine and Simone

It's not only at the races that team masseurs are crucial to the success of the team. In a training camp where all the foundations are laid for a success in your upcoming races, the masseurs role in this process is even more important. In tenerife we have two of the very best masseurs you could wish for in Carmine and simone. Infact they did a tag team with Carmine the first 10days and simone the final week. Like at the races these guys are always doing something. You can easily pick the very best ones in the business as they always have something to do, they are extremely passionate about there roles in the team and this passion and enthusiasm is passed onto the rider when we are doing something with them, be it massage or just hanging in there room after a training session. Like at the race the masseurs room is also the "food room" where we can go and grab a snack or a drink in between meal times. It also becomes an unofficial chill out room I guess as we all seem to get hungry for snacks at similar time and end up in the room as a big group often. Both Carmine and Simone are such lovely people they they create and environment in there room that makes us wan to hang out there, it becomes like the lounge room in your house where you like to chill and chat with your family. So a very important element to have at a training camp. 

Carmine and simone's work starts early in the morning. The are in the dinning room before we wake to lay out on the table all the special little things each individual riders likes before a big day on the bike. Carmine is an expert in ensuring the finest prosutto and cheeses are on hand and also that my favored vanilla flavored soy milk is nicely chilled, just the way I like it! Simone brings a touch of her Swiss nature to the breaky table with freshly prepared bircha Muesli which simply sensational! I am not a fan of muesli at all but I eat simone's but the bucket load, it's the way she stirs it I am convinced! Along with this they ensure our individual ommlette's are ready when we arrive and off course anything else we want from the kitchen prepared. Basically the are on hand to ensure our little belly's are satisfied before we head out for training, it's very very fortunate for us to have this support.

Once breaky is done there is no rest for Carmine or Simone. They head straight for the bike room and prepare all the drink bottle with wide ranges of mixes for the days training. They also ensure all the correct nutrition is loaded into the follow car so we have the fuel to pedal for hours on end. Once we are bottled up and aboard our bikes at around 10am, the masseurs finally get some time to relax for a couple of hours. 

Around 2 hours before we are scheduled to return Carmine and Simone start preparing for our afternoon routine. This involves having a post ride snack organized and ready in there "food room" and getting there massage table ready to rock and role. Once we arrive they are then full gas until dinner. An order is decided on what time for your massage and this takes around 4hrs to complete for all the riders. In between massages Carmine and Simone collect all our washing and have it washed and dried before we head off for dinner. That's pretty impressive isn't it? 4 massages and wash 6 sets of smelly cycling kit all within 4 hours!! They realty are absolute legend and have a mentality that the less we have to do off the bike, the better we will work on it, we really are looked after exceptionally well with the cannondale pro cycling family.

Once all the rubs and washing is done it's finally time for dinner. Here the masseurs work is pretty much complete however I forgot one thing! During the course of the afternoon both Carmine and Simone find time to find out what each of us would like individually for dinner and take the order down to the kitchen. Why do the do this you ask? Why don't we just order when we arrive? Well it's for our benefit as it means we never have to wait for our meal! It's always ready to go and it means we can eat and get ourselves back to our rooms for some beauty sleep as quickly as possible to ensure we recover optimally for the next days work. Yep carmine and Simone have without a doubt been the cog of the chain that really holds the cannondale pro cycling Tenerife training camp together.

So that's about enough for now on my time in Tenerife. I will report again very soon on all the goings of the final week of my stay at the hotel parador where I was left to my own devices. The cannondale clan all headed home with pending racing commitments but as I still have a couple of weeks up my sleeve and love it so much in tenerife, i decided to be a big brave boy and stay on at the parador all by myself!! Well kind off!! 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cycling's Alcatraz

Cyclings Alcatraz!

For the next 3 weeks I am holed up in Spain on the island of Tenerife Situated in the canary islands amongst the Atlantic ocean and being the largest of the 7 canary islands, Tenerife is actually closer to mainland Africa than Europe. What brings all us cyclists to Tenerife is the Hotel Parador, a lonely structure based at the foot of the volcano that is the symbol of the island as it tops out at 3700+m in elevation. That's a pretty impressive sight as it basically just sticks up straight out of the ocean. The hotel parador is based at an elevation of 2200m which provides the perfect altitude for us cyclists to sleep for an altitude camp. The elevation of the hotel combined with the ability to literally plummet 40km down to the seaside for training, makes it the ideal location for an altitude training camp. The location of the hotel also has a major influence on the type of riders whom come to train. There is hardly a flat stretch of road anywhere on the island, let alone up on the plateau where the hotel is situated. So basically every time you leave the parador on your bicycle you are going up or down and therefore the hotel is predominantly filled with climber type riders as appose to the flat land power specialists. Regardless of which way you choose to ride home at the end of the day you are faced with a minimum of 45km of climbing should you decide to make the decent  down to sea level to perform your training. More specifically the top GC riders for the grand tours and there mountain domestics seem to be the ones occupying the rooms of the hotel parador and the roads of the island of Tenerife. 

I have been coming to Tenerife for 3 years now and staying at the hotel parador. Each year it has become more and more popular to point that now during specific periods during the year you cannot get a room in the hotel for years to come. The months of April through June are basically booked out with riders preparing for the racing leading up to the giro d italia and the Le tour de France. The other thing that makes tenerife such an ideal and special location for training during this period is the predictably awesome weather, day in, day out. While the rest of Europe's high mountain passes are still being dumped on in snow, the island of Tenerife seems to have an amazing magnet for year long sun. Come june-September riders tend to disperse themselves to many different mountain altitude locations throughout Europe and the USA, this time of year has limited options for altitude training increasing Tenerife's popularity even more.

Who comes here? Who doesn't is more the question!! The hotel attracts the who's who of hilly classics and grand tour GC specialists and there support riders. When I first came in April 2012 Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and my ex team mate Vincenso Nibali were all training at the hotel. Fast forward 12 months and those 3 had occupied the podium at the 2012 tour de france and were back again preparing for 2013's grand tour assault. The crazy thing was that I was doing ergo training on my TT bike at the hotel and as always was watching cycling past Le Tour DVD's for motivation. So while I was churning away on the home trainer watching m heroes, those very men were quite probably walking past in the corridor just on the other side of the door. Off course you see everyone around the hotel, its impossible not to in the restaurant and corridors, watching these guys on the DVD and drawing inspiration from what they were achieving to then be queuing up at the toaster for breakfast in the morning was a pretty pinch yourself experience. I spent so many years being a fan of cycling and idolizing the superstars within it, so I don't think I won't ever feel a little star struck when I find myself in environments such as I do at the hotel parador. 

Even just this afternoon I had a sauna with jochiam Rodriquez whom put us all to the sword in the Volta catalunya last week, not to mention one of the Top riders in the world for the  past decade!! And there I am sharing a tiny 4x2m sauna with him. He doesn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish so Italian is where you find common ground. So I spent 30min or so chatting with a rider I respect hugely for his pure class in a foreign language, I am often find myself a little bemused by the situations this sport has landed me in. On top of these dudes hanging about the place I am here with my team mate Ivan Basso. Again I watched Ivan for many years on the tv before I even thought about taking up cycling and of course when I got the chance to ride with him in the same team in 2011 it was an incredible dream come true. Fast forward a few years and we are suffering up and down the slopes of Tenerife year in year out. It's become as a regular occurrence as Christmas being at the hotel parador with Ivan during the month of April. I said before I had been watching then 2012 le tour DVD's but also I have the collection dating back to 2001. Basso features quite prominently in man of these so it's not uncommon for me to be studying a certain climb on the DVD watching him tear a field to pieces to then have him walk into my room for a chat about this that or the other. Yep the hotel parador just offers endless moments of disbelief of where taking up racing a bicycle has all let to.

With all that being said about the cliental of hotel parador, it may come as no surprise that days revolve around bicycle riding. Being in Spain in the first place everything up here is pretty relaxed. Can't help but to get into the Spanish body clock system as if you don't you will be spending alot of time waiting for the dinning room to open! Firstly there is no point getting out of bed early as breakfast is not served until 8am. Likewise dinner doesn't really start until 8pm so getting to bed early is difficult in any case so you may aswell just except your going to be late to bed and late to rise. so out of bed I jumb straight into my PJ pilates routine. A pet name our old team trainer at cannondale Poalo Slongo gave my beach body core and abb workout in the mornings. From there it's off to breaky which is amazing. The chef and the hotel in general seem to love the cyclists being here and bend over backwards to adhere to any dietary requirements we ma have. For example at breakfast they whip me up an ommlette with 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg, spinach, salmon, and fetta cheese. It is delicious and definitely worth getting out of bed for! I though it on a fresh white baguette roll with some philly cheese spread nice and thick on it and I am all charged up for the 5-8hrs on the bike that awaits on any given day. I wash it down with cafe con leche which is Spanish for coffee with milk believe it or not. So with breaky done it's back to the room for a few phone calls back to aus and chill out time before we assemble for training at 10am.

The training here is pretty straight forward. You start the day defending for around 40-50km depending on which of the 4 routes you take down to the ocean. From there it's up to you and your squads program as to how many climbs you take to climb back to the hotel. The shortest way, I.e. Coming straight back up will make for a 3:30-4th round trip and you could ride climb a different climb for every daylight hour and still not exhausted all possible routes home of you liked. For me it's always between 5-8hrs max before I return to the security and hospitality of the hotel parador. The variation of climbs between the sea and hotel are endless. From a 45km drag at 5% to 1km 25% nose bleeder kickers and of course everything in between. Our regular routine usually involves a 12km climb, back down a little, another 15km climb, back down a little, a 3-5km climb, back down a little and then that usually leaves 15-25km back to the depending on which route you choose. I guess you picking up on the fact that it's no surprise to predominately find climbers staying at the hotel parador!! 

Once "home" for the day from training it's into recovery mode. A good stretch is first on the menu followed by a shower to wash off all that fatigue and freshen up a little. Next it's off to our legendary massure Carmine who has a brilliant post ride spread of Tucker awaiting us. Next I take a little nanna nap for 30-45 min, I am in Spain so may aswell abide by there customs, specially when it involves relaxing!! This kills the time nicely until it's time for one of carmine's awesome massages. Once Carmine has worked his magic and you forget that you just punished yourself all day on the volcanic slopes of tenerife i head of for a nice relaxing sauna. Basically all afternoon I dedicate to relaxing. I enjoy the daily sauna, you usually catch up with some of the other cyclists and have a good chin wag. My regular sauna buddy this time of year is my Tasmanian mate Ritchie Porte. He arrives this week so looking forward to chewing the fat with him in the coming afternoons talking all things Tasmanian. Once I am all relaxed out and finish up in the sauna its generally close to 8 and time for dinner.

Dinner at the parador has had a massive impact on my diet and anybody else who has been at the mercy of my catering. I basically eat the dame thing every night here simply because I enjoy it so much!! My meal consists of wha I call fiber cleanse salad which consists simply of grated carrot, avocado, and fresh tomato. It may seem simple and it is but the freshness and quality of the food here is so good that enjoy it almost as mush as my favorite dessert being toblarone cheesecake! For meat I have a nice big Spanish version of an eye fillet steak always cooked to perfection. Sometimes I mix things up with salmon but the steaks so good I usually just go same same but different day. For dessert it's a nice fresh apple the chef peels for me and is so crisp it cracks like a whip when you bite into it! Wash it down wit some hot milk and teaspoon of honey and I am so content I have forgotten about being on training camp and simply think I am on a holiday! The onl thing left to do now is head off to bed. This is also something I look forward to with anxious anticipation as at altitude you sleep like an absolute log! A few pages of my John Grisham novel and it would take the volcano outside my window to erupt to wake me up! That's a day for me in Tenerife at the hotel parador, so this time around it's simply repeat that for 3weeks.

Let's face it I love it here that much that I may aswell call it a holiday not a training camp.  I go to bed every night so excited that when I wake up the next morning I get to go and do it all again. Everyday may seem like groundhog day but I assure you it's not. The routine may be set in stone but what goes on in between is a sequence of memorable occurrence that often I will never forget and cherish forever. The sights, the sounds, the people of Tenerife, the hotel parador, and of course the riders and staff from my cannondale team always provide some form of excitement every single day. Though in the who's who of the world of cycling following basically then same routine daily with you and your guaranteed to never get bored. For example riding home the other day there is a guitar busier in the middle of nowhere playing his guitar a 2000m above sea level! I hadn't seen a car for al,ost am hour so I doubt he make much money playing there! Anyways george Bennett our larickan Kiwi was most excited and insisted we stop. Soon George had taken over the guitar and was cranking out the tunes in his full cycling kit complete with helmet and glasses with the busker singing along with him. It was hilarious and certainly something that could not be planned. We learnt two things that day, firstly George is very good at play g guitar, specially if it gives him some extra recovery time on the climb home! And secondly you never ever know where you may find a guitar busker in Tenerife.

This truly is a special place and I will check in again soon with some more tails from professional cyclings very own alcatraz.