This week I am hanging out in Alberta canada. As usual that involves racing my bicycle for a few hours each day which to be brutally honest is probably one of my preferred methods of checking out somewhere I have never visited before. The race kicked of in calgary a couple of days ago at the olympic park which was pretty cool. Racing around olypic venues and checking out past olympic cities is something that always makes me pretty excited to be involved with that particular bike race. Yesterday we enjoyed the temperamental weather patterns of the Alberta region with freezing cold rain and threats of snow which fortunately never eventuated! I must admit I raced like a bit of a girls blouse yesterday in the rain, sadly I think all that time spent in sunny LA has turned me into a bit of a creme puff so was determined to get out there today and punish myself and remind myself this sport ain't a place for blouses! By the end of today's stage there was no doubt that I had certainly inflicted as much pain on myself as possible and litteraly crawled over the line so I was in a happy pain cave again! As always there's a story behind getting to that point so here's a bit of a snap shot of what went on today at the tour of alberta!
After 2 stages which by no means we're easy, the time gaps within the field are still very small. Therefore when it comes to the beginning of each stage and trying to make the breakaway everybody wants to be in it for a wide range of reason. With a GC so tight there is always the opportunity to form the perfect breakaway which steals a heap of time and inturn sets the tone for the outcome of the race. When this is a possibility that simply means every single one of the 120 riders in the bunch senses the chance to seize the initiative and consequently there is non stop all attacking going of the front of the bunch. What's this means is there is always someone going full biscuit on the front which inturn ensure the peleton behind is being sucked along at warp speed! This was most certainly the case today and most certainly by the end of the day was one of my memorable days of the season!
When it's going nuts like today there is no easy spot in the bunch. It's more often than not single file and as jensie would politely put it you spend a large amount of time pig rooting a cricket ball! The thing is the pace is so high that you can't afford to be out of position as along with the pace being so high it also means you can be in the wrong spot at the wrong time very very quickly of miss that crucial move very very quickly! Also that go for following moves, you never know which one will stick as it may seem like a pointless attack but when your humming along at 60kmph on the flat and somebody drops the wheel all of a sudden 30 riders could be 30 seconds up the road which happened about 50 times in the first 100km today! Anyways simply put you need to be alert if you want to be apart of the action more on days like today than usual!
Yesterday as I said I raced like a bit of a girl. It's was raining and cold and while I usually relish such conditions all the time in sunny LA has well and truly softened me up! Anyways to punish myself today by hook or by crook I was determined to be in the breakaway and I was literally prepared to blow myself to smitherines and out the back of the bike race to achieve my goal. Today most certainly set my season record for how long it took for the breakaway to form. It wasn't until the 100km mark that finally 5 of us skipped clear and as I noted above with my daily intentions that meant that the first 2hrs was absolutely an all out attacking fest on my behalf and consequently when I finally used up my final bullet to make it into the breakaway I was on my knees! The average speed of the first 100km was 51kmph which is to my memory the fastest 2hrs of racing I have been fortunate enough to be apart off, certainly an experience I won't forget in a hurry! One positive of such a fast and furious start is the fact you have covered a large majority of the race distance of 150km in a short space of time! At usual final 50km race pace that means only another 1hr or so more to endure!
Anyways back to race and I finally had myself in the breakaway. I was absolutely blown to smitherines but as always once you escape the clutches of the peleton you often gain a second wind?? Yeah right!! Today I had well and truly burned through my 1st 2nd 3rd and any other consequent re charging winds that miraculously come your way and I was simply all out to maintain the pace of my fellow escapees. Normally I dream about these days, given a little head start and relishing the challenge of trying to hold of the hunting pack. I don't care about getting caught, that happens 90% of the time, I simply want to always ensure that whoever chases us down has to work as hard to do it as I am up the road! Make being up there worth it! Also being only 50km from the finish there is no way the peleton will give you much rope so you really have to work for every second you can prise out! Basically I was in the perfect situation to ensure that I absolutely burried myself beyond oblivion today and gave myself a good lesson in suffering after such a pitiful performance yesterday.
The 5 of us were all committed and working like a real team. At 20km to go we had 45 seconds which while a slim chance meant we had a chance. A few km's later we had 30 seconds and things were looking bleak! Then I got my miraculous 100th wind for the day and starting to give it some herbs and we all seemed to be getting a bit of a boost at the same time and at 15km to go we were back out to 40 seconds! We were back in the game! When I am in top shape this is the moment to really hit the turbo but sadly for me my best condition is far from where I am currently at some I have to be content just giving it all I have for the moment. I am sure if I suffer enough for long enough this week my condition I enjoyed in the first half of the season can't be far away, surely there's no secrets, you work hard and eventually you will be rewarded.
Anyways with 15km to go we all got motivated. We were pulling through with a new vigor and geeing each other up. Well I was doing a lot of geeing up of the other guys, think it comes from my rowing days that I do that and it caught on a little with a few positive comments also coming from my counterparts! Then as we approached 10km to go our team car arrived and our director biagio conte told me to stop working and sit on he the back as a few of the guys where a big threat to villella's GC position. This situation is really unfortunate as as badly as I wanted to go all in with my fellow escapee's and what will be will be I had to honor first and foremost the objectives of the team and Davide vilella has ridden really well in the first couple of days to be in 5th overall. Anyways biagio putting on the reserve bench and not working certainly had the desired effect as all the boys lost there spark and vigor. It's very psychological for a breakaway when a team makes that decision as instead of thinking bugger it, you can just sit there and get a free ride and we will try and beat you anyway at the end, you think I don't want to give anyone a free ride and loose the spring in your step in your attempt to hold off the hungry pack.
Sure enough with around 6km to go first I was caught and the rest of the guys not long after. Once I knew the group was on it I sat up and waited and let the guys have one last dig at staying away as I knew it would be in vein, they didn't need any passengers for there final km or so of going for glory. Once back in the group I made sure all the cannondale clan where in a good position up the front which as always they were. Formolo uno formolo was pedaling with his usual enthusiasm and villella looked as effortless as usual. The one I was most excited about was junior mohoric who looked to be extremely comfortable heading into the final km's and with his superior aerodynamics the downhill in the final km suited one of his famous seated on the top tube attacks! In the end junior would opt for a crack at the sprint and would gallop to a fine 5th place against some of the fastest men in the sport. For a guy who has won the junior and U23 world title road race over the past 2 years, his season best performance only a month out form this year's world's could be an ominous sign for his first crack at the senior world title!!
So all in all was a great day for me and also a great day for the team. Juniors's promising performance coupled with vilella's maintenance of a high GC position meant we are all smiles within the cannondale clan! I was so happy to be full of fatigue up to my eyeballs when I limped across the finish line! It's a feeling or place I haven't taken myself to for a while simply because I haven't been able to as I just haven't had the condition. It's a promising sign that while the pain will never disappear in a bike race, I will start to get a little more return for my efforts than I currently am!
So will give it another crack tomorrow and keep doing so all the way to finish line in Edmonton on sunday afternoon!
Srm was out of action but had heart rate and speed, I think these numbers illustrate pretty well how full bannana the day was!
Ave heartrate 161bpm
Max heart rate 195bpm
Average speed 48.5kmph