Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stage 6 Catalyuna

For the last 3 days here in the tour of catalyuna we have been seeing how fast we can cover the first 70km!! well not really but thats how long it has taken for the break to form thanks to the multitude of attacks and strength of the cntroling teams saxo bank, lampre, radio shack, and movistar. Stage 4 was a flying start, yesterday even harder and today raised it to another level. It was so chaotic that after 50km when we hit the first climb the favourites had all formed at the front and attacks came from noe other than contador the race leader, scarponi 2nd, and all the other riders in the top ten. I was fortunately in a good positionabout 5 wheels behind contador so could keep my position in the front of the bunch behind the peleton had shattered and after 70km when 3men finally skipped away only 40riders remaind in the front with 3 groups chasing behind. With almost all the bullets from the big guns fired a cease fire was called and we thankfully rode a nice normal speed to finish and the bunch sprint ensured. My role for the day was firstly to look for a break that would go to the finish and if not which was obvious from the get go was not going to happen today do my usual job of looking after the bassinator and keeping him out of trouble. We seem to have a good system orking now so life in the bunch these past few days has been alot less stressfull for the both of us which is nice. Was nice to get a good hitout in the first 70km today particualy on the climb as appart from when i i have to ride on the front it was the first time in the race that i have felt appart of the action and got the adrenoline pumping. It is always a good mental and physical challenge particually at the protour level and the calibar of stage race riders at this race going flat out and trying to hang in there having no idea when the pressure is going to let up. Being at the front of it always makes life a bit easier as you are literally seeing the front of the race and this always gives you a little lift so all in all it was a very enjoyable day for and nice to open up the old pins on a climb for the first time this year. Not having done a stage race of this level since the giro last year the body quickly forgets how much suffering is involved in this sport but all you can hope each season is to get your body used to it again sooner rather than later. Tomorrow i am sure will be a sprint with the finish on la rumbla right in the heart of barcellona so will be a good day. How long the break will take to form is anyones guess but i think we should see if we can crack the centuary. I am looking forward to good rest on monday


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Catalyuna stage 3 and 4, Stress in the bunch

Yesterdays stage did not quite go off like the firecracker i had for for our liquigas cannondale team. Ivan was very strong and arrived 7th, a handfull of seconds behind a talented spaniard in alberto contador. My role for the day was to simply ensure ivan was in a good position when we hit the final climb and then save my energy for the coming days. The stage started out well enough and i was feeling good and optimistic about contriuting to the day. 2km from the top of the long climb mid race i had to change a broken wheel which turned a very cruisy climb into a very difficult one as all of a sudden i was chasing full gas back to the front armed with everybodies rain jackets for the freezing decent to follow. At these time getting the jackets to your team mates is the only thing on your mind, you can worry about how much energy it takes after the stage. You almost develope an ability to have one eye contcentrating on picking gaps through the 200 riders traveling 60kmph and one eye looking for the sensationally stylish liguigas cannondale jerseys to hand my teammates there warm jackets. I completed this task just in time for the steep techniqual section to begin so while the boy were nicely ruuged up i did not have time to put on my own jacket so was a pretty chilly plunge to the valley below for me. Following this we hit the valley and from then on it was just keeping ivan to the front. Now again having two comes in very handy as while i use one to pick my way through the bunch, i need the otherone to keep an on Ivan and ensure he is on my wheel, if he loses it i have the slow down and find him then start moving forward again. This is a task i am not super great at so am using this race to practice this skill, it is a crucial skill to learn as a domestic specially for the bigger more prestigious nervous races. Anyway by the time we hit the climb and ivan in the front all be it not as far forward as i would have liked as i lost him of my wheel a few hundred meters before we turned onto the climb, i did as i was told and sat up and cruized home. I was a little dirty at myself as i knew with better skills in this area i could have had him in a better position but i am confident i identified where i wanr wrong and today worked hard on getting it right and today our positioning was a huge amount better. I guess it is a learning curve and i also need to develope the trust of ivan that he can follow me in pressure nervous situations in the bunch which in time we will get it right. First i need to show him i can keep the space behind me safe then he will be more comfortable to follow me. Pretty simple stuff i guess but as i have said many times i am a very slow learner. Today was simply about saving energy and recharging from yesterday and ensure that should any important work need to be done later in the race i have the fuel in the tank to do it. This race has certainly been a nasty reminder to the old leg muscles just how hard pro tour racing in europe is but with each day i am becoming more comfortable with the tempo so am looking forward to the final few days here and pais basque in 10days time. After identifying my techniqueal deficiencies yesterday today was much better and our team kept ivan nice and safely protected all day so i certainly feel like i have burnt about half as many calories as the day before, not so much from the efforts of the race but the stress of holding position in the bunch. Practice makes perfect and while i will never ever get anywhere close to perfectly holding position in the bunch, i am atleast for now happy to be improving and contributiing along with my team mates to protecting our leader, Mr Basso.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stage 2 catalyuna

Today's stage of catalyuna was a pretty straight forward bunch sprint won by pettachi from lampre. My job today was just to keep ivan protected from the wind and out of trouble to ensure he is fresh as possible for tomorro. Being early in the tour and it being a relatively easy stage with a small break going and heavily controled by the bunch. It did mean however everybody was fresh at the finish so a lot more argy bargy but just somthing you need to get used to again. An interesting thing for me today was the finish of the race in the town of benyolas which was the site of the 1992 olympic games rowing regatta. We did 4 circuits around the city and lake so I finally got to have a good look at the site where a major role model and great friend of mine, stephen hawkins and his partner peter antonie took the gold medal in arguably the most impressive rowing performance in the history of the sport. Basically 2 lightweights who took on the might and power of the heavyweight rowers in an event dominated by europeans and they won. There phenominal power to weight and technique is still used today as a bench mark and reference in the sport of rowing in australia. I have had the honor of having a special friendship with the hawkins family and was great to see the place where stephen became apart of sporting history in australia. His performance in the 92 olympics has certainly been a major motivator for me over the years in rowing and even now in cycling I often draw on his achievement for motivation particularly when the odds seem stacked against me. I certainly look forward verymuch to our golf outings these days and always learn something new from arguably one of australia's greatest ever athletes.

So tomorrow is off to the mountaintop finish in andora so I am looking forward to that and seeing basso go up against contador, cadel and michele scarponi, should be an exciting stage.

Now its time for a massage, some fuel in the tank and a lot of relaxing


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stage 1 catalunya

Today was the 1st stage of the volta catalunya. I was pretty excited about this race as It was my first stage race in europe for the season and also will give me the opportunity to do some climbing. It is also my first stage race with basso and I am pretty eager to learn as much about how he approaches the stage race format. I have done some good training in the past few weeks so feel good and hope to be appart of the race.

So for one's analysis. My role in the team meeting was to stay quiet in the start and just ensure ivan is always toward the front and real real close to the front for the start of the final climb. Unfortunately this plan got had to be altered as a very sleepy peleton allowed 4 breakaway riders a gap of 16min with 130km to race before any teams decided to chase. My team mate timmy duggen dug deep to bring down the advantage on the first climb but With the gap still at 14min with 110km to go it was panic stations and basso sent me to the front to ride with the 2 saxo bank boys whom the other race favorite alberto contador had sent up to ride. With our two team represented on the front the other teams figured it was best not to help so the 3 off us plowed into a block headwind for 80km to the base of the final climb by which time we we had pretty much destroyed ourselves to get the gap down to 4min with 30km to go. I have spent a lot of time riding the front but today was by far the hardest ever as I can't ever remember having to chase such a big gap and ride full gas into a block head breeze, it is quite demoralising when your heartrate is above 180bpm and you are only doing 35kmph going down a slight decline!!!! Thankfully the work of noval and stensen of saxobank and myself was rewarded by the fact we got the break back under control but was certainly a good reminder of how difficult some days in the protour can be. I led the bunch onto the final climb for one last pull and with my job done started to drift back through the bunch. This was when I realised I was not going out the back very quickly so was nice to know that the bunch must have atleast had a tiny bit of a hard day aswell, when you work on the front this is always satisfying to know. With 3km of the 7km climb to go and I was still hanging in the front group by the skin of my teeth I realised I was burning precious energy on day one of the tour and needed to save as much as possible for no doubt the time later in the race I am called upon to ride the front again. With this in mind I sat up and rode out the remaining 30km at a nice gentle pace to recover a bit and make sure I am ready to work again no doubt tomorrow. So litterly back to work for me today but like everytime I get to ride the front, it is always enjoyable when firstly the gap comes down and does not go up and also the guys behind have had to atleast work a little hard to soften them up a bit. It is a bit like mowing the lawn or chopping wood, a very satisfying job.

Most important basso finished safe and sound in the front group with his rivals and I am now looking forward to seeing what happens between all the superstars here on the andora stage on wednesday.

Facts and figures for the stage, no srm so no power

Time 4hrs 14min
Distance 160km
Speed 37.7kmph
Av heart rate 142
Heart rate av for 2hrs on the front 160

Tomorrow fingers crossed will be a sprint so should get an easier day in the bunch, be nice to recharge a bit the wednesdays queen stage and I hope some more time on the front of the bunch.


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Training and taking a good look at my mistakes

The past couple of weeks i have done a far bit of training by my standards. After 30hrs, 1000km and a hell of alot of climbing and time trial bike time logged to rack this up i have had alot of time to reflect on exactly what i am trying to achieve while training. This reflection came about as also during this week i completed climbing testing on the Sacro monte perched behind varese with team trainer Paolo Slongo. While my results seemed to be very encourageing i felt like i wanted to know more. How did i arrive in this condition? and also what to i have to do to improve and most importantly implement it into a racing. The test i did was the 4mmol test made famour by Lance armstrong and commonly used in all endurance sports to evaluate your sustainable power output. It envolves a section of rd rising 100m in roughtly 1.2km and you begin at a low wattage and increase by 30watt increments and repeat the climb as many times as is required to reach 4mmol of lactic acid in the blood. The wattage attained at this level is determined to be your lactate threshold or power zone you can hold between 50-60min.

So with the results and my training going well i started to ask myself some questions. What am i trying to achieve when i am out training on the bike. It is somthing that drew ginn challenged me on last year and while i gave it consideration i did not perhaps give it enough thought. Basically i have finally realised you can train and you can train. You can go out and log hr after hr and you will get a benefit from that. But what sets the likes of Drew Ginn or Ivan Basso appart from the 1000's of other rowers and cyclists alight like spend an equal amount of time flogging themselves? well i dont know but i am going to make an educated guess that the application to that training even if it is identical has a huge amount to do with it. So back to my reflection. This week our team trainer set me a pretty solid workload. Alot of km's, alot of intervals, and plenty of time to study what i am doing in the process of completeing the work. While micro management may not work for everybody, it is somthing that i find gets the best out of me so i am trying to take this approach. While climbing now instead of punch 400watts and being happy i think about how my legs feeling, are they doing this comfortably? can i sustain this for a long period? if not dont kid myself and suffer though it back off to 380watts and give you body a chance to build all the blocks required to get to your peak condition. The heart is obviously the most important muscle for everybody let alone athletes. Therefore i have focused alot more on what it telling me. If my heart rate outside my target zone it is telling me somthing, either push harder or pull back, obvious, but i have realised this is somthing that i have ignored for far to long. In the past looked at my watts and thats it, sure i see if i am tired or not but really previously if i have been able to hit the numbers i have not really cared about how i did it or any forsight for what is the most important part of cycling, being able to replicate that effort on the next climb or the next day or day after that. So during my intervals i have found myself constantly asking the question am i doing whats prescibed to get me where oi want to go, are the sensation correct, and most important is my heart rate and wattage telling me the same story. Though my new found enthusiasm for learning about my sport and my body i have discovered somthing called vam. Basically this is the vertical speed you are climbing at per hr. This is used by all sports cyclists to particually evaluate the performance of cyclists in races where they do not have power meter data to look. Now i through in this calculation along with power and heartrate and i am constantly getting a much more realistic picture of where i am at. Even small things like what speed i am doing at different power and what does a change in position or cadence do to effect that speed? untill now i would have no idea but i have found in this past week starting to think about these things. So basically i just wanted to say a bit about training and training, i have always known there was a difference and thought i was a good "trainer", thankfully this past week has taught me that i have a seriously long way to go to actually train properly and hopfully one day get to a point where every second logged in training is purposfull, that would be great but with my limited sporting ability i doubt whether i will get to that point. My biggest downfall however is perhaps not my approach to training but my negligence of to recovering properly. In the past i have always neglected the small things, massage, ice baths, stretching, all the simple things we know work but are easy to neglect. This week when not on the bike i have tried to take the same approach to recover as i have to training. I have all day to do my job so why not use it. This has meant work on core and stretching before breakfast and again after training, things in the past i have found very easy to put asside and sleep in or just take a shower. As a result i feel much better and have got to know in one week how my body will feel that day on the bike from the mornings warmup rountine in my lounge room. Also which muscles need more stretching than others following different types of intervals on the bike, be it normal climbing, strength, spints, time trial, agility. All these require varying loads on different muscles and i have found specifically targeting this in stretching has mad a big difference to recovery. Next has been nutrition. While i have for a long time been a big advocate for if it aint worth burning it off dont consume it and am doing my best to approach nutrition with a little more professionalism. Again i have been very negligent n this area by being fixated on being skinny or light and not thinking really about what will fuel my body out on the road. I have basically been 71kg for 10years now and have changed shape malot in that time so i dont forsee that really changing much. The only way i can make a difference is the fuel that i put in and when i am relaly hard on myself realise i have been far from thinking about nutrition in the right way for a very long time. Nutrition now i have made part of my recovery routine, during the last 5min of my streching and core post ride i boil the water, pop the pasta in when i am finished and jump straight in the shower. By the time i have finished my shower and am dressed the pasta is cooked and i can immediately sit down and refuel the system without wasteing a second. It is very simple and i am sure that most athletes already do things this way but for me it is whole new way of focusing and getting the most from my recovery time. As much as i always though it was not neccessary to count calories i have finally realised for atleast it is important. Not because i eat to much but because otherwise i dont eat enough and now know that if i get the fuel right i can train so much more constructively. I guess the big word is accountability and i have decided it is time to really do my best to be accountable to my profession. Often the daily workouts are replicated from week to week so doing the exact same course gives me another indicator of where i am at, did i do it in the same time? faster, slower? why? All small questions i have never thought to ask myself before but until this week when i opened my eyes a bit more to what i was doing realised there was so much more i could do. My final area of self analysis has come by using that crucial muscle as an indicator agiain, the heart! Before bed i check my resting pulse rate and also again in the morning and now know that if it has not dropped by atleast 6 beats then i have not had adequate rest and rest to perhaps urr on the side of caution for the days training or perhaps have an extra hrs sleep. Sure there are many factors that effect your heartrate at these time of the day!!! but if you do the checks enough under similar conditions i have found it to be a good indicator not only of how hard you worked that day and what it took out of you but also how well you have recovered for the next days workload. This info helps to establish how much sleep i think i need and also if i am benefiting from the work i am doing or it is just putting me in a whole. I may be way of with this type of analysis but i am going to keep using it and see what it tells me. For now i have found it very usefull.

After 10years in elite sport i am pretty annoyed with myself that it has taken me this long to starte to open my eyes more to why we train and take training much more seriously. At the end of the day we spend alot more time training than competing and competing is the only thing that counts so on that logic you cant afford to stuff up training. I have been fortunate enough to have some of the worlds best coaches advising me and i am sure they have pulled there hair out at my stupidity at times but i realise that this is a lesson you must learn yourself, i hope now i have finally realised this i dont waste the opportunity to work and learn from such amazing trainers. Sure great athlets like drew can try and ope you eyes to the benefits of training properly but until you want to do it yourself i have realised you can never really understand the importance of it. I am certain i am still a very long away from getting my preperation time spot on but for now i will settle for an improvement and hope that if i can keep making small improvements with application to racing and training then one day i might even end up being a good athlete.

Now time for me to relax on my recovery day and do what it's meant for, doing apsolutly nothing!!!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This past week has been a very sporty week on a couple of fronts. Training has been pretty full and I also had climbing testing, but also the Australian rowing championships were held in Adelaide. I am always very interested every year to see where the sport is at and particularly my hutchins school crew whom I help coach when In aus and of course my many friends still involved with the sport.
For me the nationals always revolved around the final Sunday which held the interstate races. My race was the lightweight 4 which I was fortunate enough to win the 3years that I rowed in it before changing to cycling. This year my old crew mates sam beltz (currently the dominant lightweight rower in the country after winning 4 national titles last week) and Tom Gibson teamed with Anthony edwards and Blair tunavish to defend the title they won in 2010. The other race of note and the premier race of the regatta, the king’s cup open men’s interstate 8+, was one for the 3rd year in row by New South Wales. I was very happy to see this as my best mate Matty Ryan and I often say that at the nationals Sunday is the only day that matters, if you win on Sunday then you have had the perfect regatta. Also the party following Sundays racing is always huge, massive in fact and is even more enjoyably when you win on Sunday.
This year was perhaps of a little more interest than others due to the closer involvement I have had with my old school hutchins over the past few months. Following the tragic passing of the great Roger Drummond in November who had literally changed the face of the schools rowing programme, I knew as his assistant it was imperative that we try and continue his legacy and maintain the system for the boys to reach their potential. Rog managed to turn the hutchins boat club into potentially the most dominant force in junior boys rowing in the country within only 18months. He certainly was a man who wanted to see kids succeed though no other reason than knowing how great it made #the feel when they achieved things that they previously did not realise was possible. In light of this there was only two men whom I felt could bring the required skills to the school to help continue this legacy, one was bob bleakly, my coach from the Olympics and coach of multible world champions and Olympic medalists. The other was the number one coach on Tasmania and arguably currently the number one coach in the country and the world in John Driessan. John also an Olympic coach and coach of multible olympic and world champions. With John already giving all his time to rowing and bob in rowing retirement I first approached bob whom all but accepted the position until a final small hurdle which kept him in queensland for another 12months. I immediately rang john and explained the importance of this great group of boys deserving the best coaching possible and john being john, a very very generous man, said he would love to look after the boys. 3months on and John has taken the boys to Gold medals in the U19 8+ and U19 1x, Silver in the schoolboy 8+ which is the most prestigious race for school rowing in the country, and also a bronze and 5th in the U19 1x. Along the way the boys dominated the state rowing season from U19 though to senior level and are now the number one force in junior boys rowing in the country. These boys are very lucky, not only do they have john whom I honestly regard as one of the best in the world guiding them through the technique of rowing, they also have an entire team of support staff ensuring no stone was left unturned. The very much un heralded Ron nylander whom prepares there weights programme is perhaps the back bone to the boys physical preparation and monitors the boys every step and movement in the gym to ensure they are on track. If there not right he knows simply by looking at his stop watch or little note pad, and also if they are going super strong he is aware of the exact moment to push the boys a little more to get the most out of them. Just to add andother string to his already very long bow, ron is also an expert on nutrition and I also consult hime during the off season for my physical strength work in the gym. After seeing his work with the boys I was desperate to learn from him also. Being fortunate enough to be involved with the institute system since I was 17, I have always had access to the best training resources. I also knew that this gave me an advantage if you choose to make the most of these resources. Infact when I was at the Australian institute of sport in 2004, Barry Barns the residence coordinator and former coach of our national basketball team told me that the institute was like a tube of toothpaste, the more you squeeze it the more you will get lout of it. So aslong as you have the tube you can squeeze it and the results will follow, this small but invaluable piece of advice was certainly a crucial factor in me making the 2004 Olympic team. So back to the boys, the school and initially through the tireless work of roger gave the boys great resources and they certainly put there heads down, believed in the process and this week in Adelaide enjoyed the rewards of this dedication. For me it was a very enjoyable process to watch from the outside, I know how good a coach john is and also rons expertise is second to none in his field. Though in 9 very determined young men and the result would always take care of itself. To have this type of structure and support and confidence in a programme is something most athletes would give there left and right arm for and these kids simply have to turn up to there school boatshed and gym. Roger Drummond certainly left a lasting legacy at the hutchins school boat club which will reward many young boys for years to come. So I big big thankyou to Johny and ron for getting boys just right at the right time and a big big thankyou to the school and the boys for allowing me to be involved with such a great team.


Monday, March 14, 2011


Today I had a very enjoyable 6hrs on the cannondale super six, It was however a little cold!!!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Saturday, March 5, 2011


A professional cyclist's version of a business card, now i understand why they all carry around man bags as it would be impossible to fit one of these in a normal man's walet!!!