Sunday, September 26, 2010

The green machine!

Yesterday I touched back down in australia. Season for 2010 wrapped up and time to switch off and get re focused on the next season and new challenges I will be facing. I will be joining one of the strongest teams in the world, liquigas doimo, and am excited about my new role I will play in the team. Man who would not be, I certainly dreamed of always riding for one of the biggest teams in the world, and I don't know why but I always had a goal of riding with ivan basso so for it all to come true is another nice little reminder in my life that sometimes dreams do come true. Why basso? Well I used to really admire the way he took the fight to armstrong back in the 04 and 05 tours. During these years I watched the race on the television in varese while on rowing camps and with it also being his home town I guess I just started cheering for him like you support a football team. You know when you obviously have no real close connection to anybody in the sport so any small connection seems massive so you support that team. Well that was what it was like for me with basso, I felt that being in his home town, I may aswell jump on the ban wagon and support him, and besides you had to support anyone who took the fight to big tex (armstrong) and basso certainly made him earn those victories.

Therefore it was simple for me, With armstrong retiring, I felt that if I wanted to do this sport of cycling I had to learn from the best still in the peleton and for me I felt that was basso. So that's where a small seed was planted in 2005 when I started to entertain the thought of changing sports, If it was going to ultimately work I want him as my teacher. He obviously had some troubles the following year and he dealt with them very well and it was at this time I first met him in 2007 when he was serving his ban.

I was out training with wez sulzberger and we came across him on the side of the road with a flat tyre and no pump. We stopped to help and then rode for 1hr and got along very well, we talked about many things, my rowing, his cycling, why I changed and so forth. To me he was very sincere and happy to help out with advice regarding training and the racing progression I should aim for in order to make the transition from paddle to pedal. In 2008 we started to be trained by aldo sassi and therefore started to share training rides and sessions, well more I guess I was simply in awe that I was doing the same training on the same rodes as him which would make us often cross paths. In 2009 we did a few races together and in 2010 we started the season together in gp lugano and followed pretty much the same race programme through to the giro so I obviously saw him and spoke with him more and more.

Watching him race particularly this season only re affirmed my desire of I guess dream of riding on the same team. He seems to do everything right in races, always at the front and never looks in any difficulty, much like a top afl, soccer, or rugby player whom always seem to have that extra second to everybody else and therefore seem to use half the energy to do the same job. This means when they go they really go, like gary ablett, these sportman always have that extra gear as they are more efficient and simply one step ahead of everybody else. For me I realised by watching basso this year that he is the one with this gift in the peleton and that's a person you want to learn from.

So there I was before the start of tre valli veresine, my home race which finishes with circuits around my home town of varese, talking to my amazing coach aldo sassi when he introduced me to roberto amadio, the big boss of liquigas cycling team. my italian is not perfect but not bad so I could understand what they were talking about, aldo was singing my praises and robert amadio seemed interested. So we exchanged the usual pleasentries and I knew that this race would be important. Luckily for me I was part of main breakaway of the day, much to delight of my team as the race is one of the few televised live on local television so sponsors were happy, always nice when employers are happy! So having had a little imput into the race I was happy with my days work and I went off to a meeting with my agent after dinner. We sat down and he explained that liquigas were keen and had made an offer, it did not take more than half a split second to both agree that this was the perfect opportunity and said yep, were in!

So as quickly as that, a small little thought that was hatched in my mind in 2005 while I watched le tour, became a reality, I would change to cycling, become a professional, and the iceing on the cake, be given the opportinity to ride along side ivan basso. I think most fittingly might I add, it all came true in the beautiful small town where my dream started, varese.


Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ribbed off

My season sadly has come to an early end. On sunday i fractured a rib avoiding a crash by jaming my brake hood into mi left rib cage. In consultation with the doctor and my team it was decided i should put my race bag in the cubboard for the season and look ahead to next season. Of course when somthing comes to an you tend to want reflect and i have only great memories of my time with Androni in 2010.

I guess my season was shaped by the relationship i developed with the team leader michele scarponi. Very early on we struck a great accord between each other and had trust in what we could do for each other, This being that i would give my all to help michele achieve great results and in return i knew he gave everything to deliver his best performances. This was a great learning experience for me in highlighting how much enjoyment and satisfaction you can feel by watching the success of your fellow team mates. Michele had offered to repay this with some domestic work for me when i was in top form but unfortunately in the second half of the season, fatigue, tiredness and ultimately this broken rib meant this did not occur. Maby in the future we will switch roles but regardless i am super pleased and greatful about the time i have had riding with michele.

There was never a moment to relax during the season as our team never turned up to make up the numbers. Our directors ensured that every pre race team meeting had a spercific plan about how we would be involved in what happened on the race course. Marco Bellini, Giovanni Elina and of course the ever so stylish team manager Gianni Savio did not except any passengers. We were all expected to turn up ready to work whenever we pinned a number on and if you were unable to perform it left you feeling empty as you knew you had let down your team mates. This inspired me to do all i could to not experience this as for me this is not a nice feeling. For this i am very greatful to the team staff for enstiling this bike racing work ethic into me and am sure that it will benfit me in the future regardless of my employer. It does not only stop at the riders and management where i felt this responsibility but the whole staff, massage guys, mechanics, and the doctor, they all put in everything and it was super important to me to know that after every day at the office i had given all i could to justify the daily massage, cloaths being washed, bike cleaned so well it always looked brand new, and of course just the fact that all is done for you so you only worry about pushing those pedals. It has been truly a great honour to be part of such a professional organisation and i again i am greatful for the cyclingisms that i know have as part of my cycling tool kit from my time with the team.

So a great year with a great bunch of people and i wish the androni team all the very very best for the future