Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tumbling Tummy

It has been a rather frustrating couple of weeks for me since heading of to the united states of america. I just never got on top of my condition after turkey which i have now found out was due to a nasty tummy bug which i picked up from one of the 3 continents i have raced on over the past 4 weeks from food, another rider, water or really i would not have a clue. During california i was really struggling with everything, keeping fuel onboard, tummy cramps, chest pain, and just generally feeling very very average, i tried hard to get myself right but if you are missing a few gears you pay for it at this level. Luckily i identified not being right early on in the race and instead of suffering to race at the front i was able to slip into a domestic role for our superstar spinter peter superman sagan and contribute a bit to the collective effort of the team. You cant feel great all the time and i guess my rowing tendancies of ignoring little warning signals sometime backfire on me. Unless you are on your death bed you seem to be able to atleast perform very close to your top in a 6min rowing race because basically there is not enough time in the race for sickness to effect you too much. I have taken this approach a few to many times in cycling adopting the same principle and while you usually do feel ok for the first 6min of the cycling race unfortunately the next 5-6hrs are very very difficult and you need to exercise all your patience in suffering though the race. So after pretty much a week off post california with the travel and a couple of days off the bike to let the antibiotics and medicine rid this jolly thing from my system, i am super fresh and was great to get back out on the open rd for a couple of easy hrs today in the beautiful sunshine of northern italy and feeling like i am well and truly on the mend.

So from this rather unpleasent eposide i have certainly learnt a couple of valuable lessons. Firstly really take notice of all the food that goes into my system, i think i am pretty good but you can obviously never be to carefull and also when it comes to water. Us cyclists certainly get accused of being a little too precious but after most likely suffering from a food or liquid contracted bug through a rather intense cycling tour it is certainly somthing i will take as much care with what goes into my body as i possibly can to ensure it does not happen to me again. Trying to ignore any illness symptems seems to be a very rowing mentality and i guess it is because you get so few opportunities to race on the highest stage that if sickness or injury strikes at these time you simply do what you can to put it out of your mind and get on with the job. In cycling there is a big race every week and therefore the culture is simply to sit a race out if need be and get back on top of your condition before starting your next race. In this case the worst problems did not start untill a couple of days into the race so i did not have the option of pulling out. If you pull out the team is weaker and if you can contribute oin anyway and survive the race you are much better of to the team to stay in the race and do what you can, its one of the ultimate team sports and no matter how bad you are feeling you always judge your ability to continue on weather you can contribute anything in the race. In this case i knew i was still more than capable of spending time riding on the front of the peleton to help control things for the sprint finishes so i never considered pulling out. It is times like this where you realise hopw lucky you are to be in a team and also how much you must really enjoy racing and being with your team mates in a race situation. Certainly the joy we all shared as team after peter's great win on stage 5 completely overshadowed and outweighed any personal discomfort i was experiencing.

So back in europe and back into my routine, look forward to a few days good training and the criterium dauhpine libere.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Tour of california final stage wrap up

The final day of the tour of california wrapped in a highly expected and anticipated bunch sprint which was won by matty goss. Our liquigas cannondale superman sagen was 2nd which was another huge effort. We helped control the break with matt goss's team and with 5km to go it was all together so was fitting that those 2 faught out the final victory.

My day was as i had hoped, some time on the front of the peleton pulling back the break and the opportunity to get some much needed intensity into my system after my quiet week. It was certainly a great opportunity to work on the front with the htc team to see how they control these bunch sprints, they win so many of the things that alot can be learned from seeing how they launch there missiles such as gossy, leigh howard and cavandich to the line for some many victories.

Following the stage our team headed back into the la hills for a small party with the sponsors of the team which was a great opportunity to give them a little feedback on equipment and the goings on within the team, not to mention so good authentic american ribs fresh of the barbi!!! Functions like this are a real great reminder of the team behind the team and the huge amount of support we have from so many different companies and workers. So it was great to be able to hopefully give a bit back to those who put so much into us.

Will enjoy a good rest on the plane before getting stuck into it tomorrow. It has been a great experience racing in california, excellent course, rd's, teams, hotels and organisation and great way to break up the european season. Infact in the past 4 week i have raced on 3 continents, europe and asia in turkey and now america so certainly getting to litteraly ply my trade in all corners of the globe. I have had a very good dose of espn sport, nba playoffs, ice hockey and baseball but am looking forward to getting back to europe to catch up on some eurosport and in particually the final week of the giro d italia, will be a nice way to unwind and relax a little after the racing, travel, altitude, racing and travel. Also i have missed a nice simple italian cappa and cafe and not to mention some italiana pasta. No offense to the american coffee but a 1l jug of it does not quite satify the palet the way the italian espresso hits the spot.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stage 7 tour of california

Stage 7 was the premier stage of the 2011 tour of california. It featured 3500m of vertical climbing in just 120km. The race was won in 3hrs 30min so that means 1000m of vertical climbing per hr so was a reasonable demanding course. Today our tactics were to have 1 guy in the break which we had with francesco belloti taking his chance for a day infront of the race and our climber damiano caruso had a great day finishing 8th. I took it very easy and just looked after peter as tomorrow it will most likely end in another sprint so for sure there will be work to be done so when peter put up the white flag with 20km to go i dropped of with him to pace him and protect him and save as much of his energy for tomorrow also. Luckily that meant today was a nice easy day for me which is what my system needs at the moment to get over this chest infection. I should be in perfect health just intime for the 14hr flight back to italy on monday!!!

The course was very nice todaya nd rds more reminisent of the ones we race on in europe. Was crazy to think we were racing just on the out skirts of los angeles only 30km from the city centre. Those mountians behind the city are not only good for big giant white hollywood letters it turns out they are also pretty good scene for a bike race. Last day tomorrow and finishes in the golfing town of thousand oaks so i will be certain to check out the links in amongst my turns working on the front of the bunch.

Big day tomorrow

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Stage 6 tour of california

Tt day today and unfortunately was a very quiet easy day for me. With my little chest infection complaint and anti biotics i am on light duties for the remainder of the race so today's 23km tt was pretty much a day off or recovery day for me. For our boys in green again super sagen put another great performance and was 14th behind most of the top time trialists in the world. With tomorrows most difficult stage of the tour on the menu with a mt top finish i thinks it best to expect the un expected from him tomorrow. Certainly on sunday the stage looks very suited to him but getting to know him this week he will no doubt show he can climb with the best like he has shown he can sprint and climb with the best, simply incredible and despite feeling a bit off colour it is so enjoyable having the opportunity to ride for him here. Anyway today was a great opportunity to save some cookies to help him in the final 2 days.

After todays stage we treked 230km down the the pacific coast hwy to spend the night in los angeles at the marriot right in down town opposite the staples centre so a pretty cool race hotel indeed.

Looking forward to another day in the californian sunshine tomorrow

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stage 5 tour of cali

Today was a green day with a dominating victory by our liquigas cannondale sprinting spear head peter superman sagan. Today our team meeting was very clear with on objective, doing all we can to help him do it. Thanks to such a difficult course with roleing hills, wind and a narrow rd, it was a difficult day for the majority of the peleton, specially the sprinters. Yesterday peter showed he was perhaps the strongest climber of all the sprinters so we had plenty of confidence in his ability to pull of the win aslong as we could ensure it arrived in a sprint.

Everything worked out pretty well according to plan, a small move got away and fortunately a couple of riders high on gc were in the break away which meant radio shack had to control for yellow jersey wearer chris horner. This meant we delayed helping with the chase till the second half when our big locomotive and decending and flat land working specialist lended a hand on a flat fast slightly downhill sectio perfectly suiting him. From radio shack were keen to keep the break on a short leach and once ted began working the gap never went north of 3min. Next i subbed in with about 80km to go and when timmy duggan gave me a breather with 50km to the gap was a very manageable 1:45. Here we just kept the group dangling until we got a little to lazy and with 30km to go it was back to 2min 20sec and panic stations occured. Back to the front this time i was going full gas with my team mates damiano caruso, ted and francesco belotti and a couple of radio shack boys. Finally with 5km we had it pretty much back together and when a crash occured at 4km i sat up to ensure peter was safe but quickly realised as i drifed out of the front group that firstly the front group was now only 40riders and secondly and most importantly peter was right up the front and i was pretty confident at seeing this that the win would be his. I roled in with my other workmates in the second group just in time to see the replay of peters win on the big screen and as always when my team mates win, i was very very excited for him and the team. It certainly is a very satisfying team sport on days like today.

After yesterdays bomb out big time it was nice to be back in a role i am familiar with and working for the team leader, unfortunatly i have found out i am suffering from a chest infection which explains my breathing difficulties yesterday and general flattness. Just fortunate i can still assist the team when i am crook and i hope recover in the last few days and be stronger for the daupine.

All in was a seriously great day and one i wont forget in a hurry and perhaps the best part was sharing the 7litre magnum of red win peter got for winning, was an exceptional drop.

Tomorrow is the tt so looking forward to a day off with 2 hard stages to follow and finish things off at the 2011 tour of cali.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stage 4 california

Stage 4 of cali did not go as i had hoped. I had hoped to have a good day on the climbs but unfortunately my condition was not where i had hoped. The reason or reason's could be many, firstly perhaps my foray in altitude training and coming directly to the race without time to re adjust did not go as planned, i did not eat enough or more to the point could not eat and drink enough due to the ferious tempo set by the radio shack boys, or and basically the most likely reason, i was not good enough today to be where i wanted to be.

Anyway a difficult few days is now behind me so i am very excited to turn my 100 percent attention to helping superman sagan for the remainder of the tour. Today he showed he can not only sprint with the fastest but can also climb with the very best aswell. The future of this man in the sport of cycling is incredibly exciting i assure anyone following the sport. His capabilities and potential appears to be simply endless. The best part he is the nicest level headed young man you would ever meet.

Onto stage 5 and the long hard roleing day looks likely to end in a group finish and i hope we can do a good job in setting peter up for the sprint.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stage 3 california

California turned on its finest weather again today with wind, rain and plenty of twisty, up and down roads. For the first 3hrs or so it was pouring cats and dogs to soften up the bunch a bit. Fortunately a nice sized breakaway formed pretty early on so was well controlled by the sky team who had the leaders jersey following there stage win yesterday. 5hrs 15min later they would win again and in the interin period we just kept peter up the front, got battered along with rest of the field in a nasty crosswind section briefly splitting the peleton with 20km to go but reformed intime for a techniqual finishing circuit which seemed to have a crash every km of it 9km in duration. At the line peter was 4th thanks to some great work of his sprint baby sitters, mauro da dalto, danial oss and damiano caruso. He is now 3rd on gc and still best young rider and leader the points classification so as per usual peter superman sagan is living up to his reputation.

For me today i was pretty inconspicuos in the bunch all day, tried to help peter where i could and appart from that stayed warm and kept myself entertained by fishing multipower gells and bars out of my jersey pockets with rain soaked long fingered gloves which is always a challange in trying to avoid dropping all that you try and consume.

Tomorrow is the first mountain stage so will be interesting to see what happens

Now for some sleep

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Stage 2 tour of california

After the cancellation of yesterdays stage and the shortening of today by half the distance the tour of california finally got underway. It was a great day for our sprinter peter superman sagen as be finished 2nd. The team and particually timmy duggan for all his great work pulling back the early break and danial oss did a great job setting him up for the sprint and he came very close to win. With another sprint finish on the cards tomorrow it will be exciting to see if he what he can deliver there.

For me it was not such a great day, as i felt a little sluggish after the previous weeks extended easy days but certainly blew out the cobwebs for the rest of the race, i am dissapointed in myself for not riding better position in the final circuits and consequently lost 15sec not seeing a split ahead of me but no excuses i just have to be more attentive in such situations, learn the hard way again unfortunately. Anyway long way to go so plenty of time to make up for todays sleepiness.

so onto stage two and hopefully another good day for our super sprinter and i will do what i can to help and pay more attention in final km's.

Facts for the stage
Time 2:47
Speed 45kmph
Av heart rate 135bpm
Av power 213watts
Kcal burnt 2200

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Resting up

With the start of the tour of California now 2 days away I am well and truly on rest up mode. I can not praise the town of south lake tahoe and America in general enough as it has been perfect for my little altitude training camp. With the NBA playoffs in full swing there is no shortage of entertainment and analysis on the television to keep me entertained when I am not doing the other two activities involved with freshening up, eating and getting a massage. I have a great masseur, alesandro amedio whom I have had at basically every race and in the training camps which is important as massage for use cyclists is a crucial part of the daily routine. When you are on the table you need to be relaxed to get the most benefit from your muscles being relieved of the tension created by the hrs on end pushing the pedals. If you are not relaxed on the table you may as well not waste the masseur's time. So suffice to say this hr or so for me each day is super relaxing and beneficial. It is a great opportunity to work on my Italian as ale also takes the opportunity to work on his English. Also during this time for some reason the team managers always come in for a chat to see how I am getting on and explain any logistics required for dinner, the next days training or racing, and anything else that they need to bring up with you. So really the massage time can be very very productive and I always seem to leave not only feeling good but knowing all I need to know about the days activities.
The other key activity for me in the few days before a race is eating. Particularly for a small tour such as the one I will do next week which is 8 days long and in excess of 1000km the food eaten in the days leading up is a little more important than normal. I love this period because eating is one of my favourite activities, if my metabolism would allow it I could happily eat all day. The diet in these preceding days for me is made up unsurprisingly predominantly of carbohydrates, protein and water. Sure not the most glamorous of diets but one I find works for me and for me I am a man of routine. The difficulty as a paranoid cyclist is that in these days training is normally reduced to probably a third of what you normally do, well this is the level I like to do anyway. This means that physiologically you don't want to consume normal size meals through fear of getting fat but i have learnt the hard way that you need to put this thought aside as like any form of transportation the more fuel in reserve the longer the engine will run for. Due to the vigour's and intensity of professional bike racing it is almost impossible to replace the amount of calories burnt with food during the race so you need to go in with some reserve's. Pretty simple and common sense I guess but being a slow learning it took me some time to pick up on this little fact. Asside from getting your rubs and eating the final ingredient in freshening up is plenty of rest and I take the opportunity to knock out plenty of reading and time on my psp which my girlfriend jess brought for me when I started cycling in 2007 and has certainly been the best form of keeping me entertained I have ever owned. Psp's rock!!!! So ideally if you get all this right you will at least start the race feeling fresh and motivated and if you combine it with the adequate work required on the training track you should in theory have a good race. Sounds simple and for the top riders they obviously have all this routine nailed, for me, well I am still pretty hit and miss but certainly doing all can to try and get it all right.
So, the time has come to pin on the numbers and get the 2011 tour of California started

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

American cuisine

Yesterday was a bit of a biggy. My suggested training route seemed pretty cruisy and not too long when i looked at the map. My plan was to cruise along the lake and first part of stage 1 of tour of cali, dveiate of to truckee to check out the start and climb of stage 2 then return home via the finish of stage 1 to check that out aswell. Seemed like an excellent day of recon to me. My much more educated and orienteering expert and team mate and training partner ted king thought it sounded a little lengthy so plotted it on google maps. 190km he said and that i needed to learn how to read a map. I assured him it was not possible for it to be that far and to trust me and so after my 1hr of core in the gym off we set around the lake tahoe and the surrounding cities. Sure enough 6hrs and 190km later i roled into the cafe in the lobby of my hotel and pleaded with the waiter to make me the thickest thick shake he had ever put in a blender. About half a litre of icecream, milk, honey, bannana, and a healthy serving of chocolate topping later he produced i concoction that required a knife and fork to get through. It was perfect. I read once in a magazine that that a milkshake provides an excellent recovery meal/drink. It contains electrolytes, carbohydrates, protein and above all taste exceptionally good. The state i was in i was certainly not going to debate this logic and even convinced myself that being so cold it was probably serving as an internal ice bath. Safe to say i was not quite thinking locially at the time perhaps due to the session being done entirely above 2000m altitude and at a reasonable intensity, averages of 234watts, 2090m elevation, 125heart rate, 32kmph, 5100kcal, and i was a bit light headed. Whatever the science behind a milk shake it made me feel a million times better than i did before i drank it so it gets the thumbs up from me and in a strange cant wait untill the next day i arrive home in such a state that i race straight for the cafe and another thick thick thick shake. For me the pain and suffering of a long hard day in the saddle is severely outweighed by the amount of food i can eat as a reward. You may have picked up i love food so know the harder i work the more i can enjoy it. In light of that still feeling a little energy defient this morning i set out in search of a breakfast burrito. I came accross a natural foods cafe and figured perfect, massive meals as is standard in america and also healthy. I ordered a carrot celery beetroot and ginger freshly crushed juice in an attempt to negate or even out the potentially not such heathly incrediedients in the previous days thick shake and there house special, the breakfast burrito. As you can see from the photo it has it all. Brown rice, avocado, black beans, ommlette, salsa, cheese and some ham, all served up in a giant taco shell and a side of corn chips. I can honestly say in all my travels i have never seen such an concoction on a plate in front of me and i can happily report it was delicious. It certainly achieved my desire of replenishing my energy stores following yesterdays adventures.

So all in all, everything going well here at my altitude camp in lake tahoe. I am training well, eating very well and certainly resting very hard. Tomorrow ted and i will be joined by the rest of our team mates so am looking forward to that and i am hoping a game of golf with our golf loving doctor Dott Emilio magni. Today being sunday is asual a day of leasure and recovery so looking forward to an afternoon full of sport on espn. It is Certainly a lifestyle that suits me very well here in the land of the young and brave, god bless america.

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Friday, May 6, 2011


I had high hopes for an enjoyable altitude camp at lake tahoe and it has certainly not let me down. Since arriving 3 days ago i have settled into a good routine and certainly happy to have come here for a bit of training. The roads are great and the land scape simply breath taking. As is have eluded to in the past i am fortunate to live in some beautiful places but lake tahoe and the snow capped mountains and pine trees that surround it certainly provide an incredible backdrop for some gentle training rides. On day 1 i reconed stage one with my american team mate ted king. Like any stage with climbs not long enough to scare you but long enough to cause damage if an enthusiastic peleton decides to race up them, it should hopfully be a small bunch sprint with the likes of our peter sagen or the tasmanian from htc matt goss probably fighting out the stage victory. Having said that ted and i did debate how the stage would pan out for the 4hrs it took for us to ride it but certainly aggreed that anything could and most likely will happen.

With a good blow out under my belt the last 2 days have been alot easier as i give my body a chance to recover from the recent race, travel, time zone change and off course adjusting to the altitude. This has meant i have had the opportunity to check out the little town of tahoe and get in the swing of the american way of life. I have chowed down on some great mexican food, namely my burrito last night which weighed about 2kg. I was not your regular burrito as it contained a bowl of rice, half a kg of kidney beans, a giant piece of steak and off course some famous mexican spices. Not many meals slow me down but it took a huge amount of determination to jam this thing down my throat and the only way to feel a little normal again was to force a magnum ego down there also to put out the fire from the mexican herbs and spices. Was certainly a challenge i wont tackle again anytime soon. Aside from this on the food front i have been getting stuck into the french toast with a very very healthy drowning of maple syrip in the mornings for breaky. This is my favourite breaky treat but with maple syrip hard to come by in europe it is only usually an australian treat so great to get a few weeks supply onboard now also. Loaded up from the burrito and breaky i certainly dont think i will be running out of fuel anytime soon out on the bike.

Another great thing about being here is being able to watch american sports. I love how they make such a massive deal out of there national sports. The only difficulty is reading the tv guide to plan my days viewing schedule. America has about 150 different time zones so figuring out when stuff is on is a bit of a lottery but today was great as i saw the pacquio mosley weighin for tomorrows monstor fight, then the lakers maverics in the nba playoffs. The nba is incredible to watch, just how dahm accurate they are, they just never miss, they certainly earn there big pay checks. To top it all off i even got "take out" to watch the game at home in true american style so i think i could get used to being here. Yep i am giving espn a very good workout thats for sure.

Tomorrow i have a very american day planned, with a bit of training in the morning, followed i hope by a hit of golf, dinner at the hard rock cafe where i am told the hamburgers are exceptional so cant wait to test a big one out, and then off to the sports bar in the neighbouring casino to place a few bets and watch the big pacquio mosley super fight. Sure is going to be a jam packed day and i cant wait. All going along nicely here in tahoe

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

72hrs full gas

In the past 3 days have been quite an adventure. The tour of turkey wrapped up on sunday with a bunch sprint and with now splitting of the peleton the gc remained unchanged and i was 5th overall. Monday morning i was up at 5am to start my journey back to milan via istanbul. I arrived at my appartment at about 330pm and knocked out an easy 90 min spin on the bike to recover a little from the race and plane trip. This was followed by physio and a massage at the mini ais which i was super greatful for and helped a massive amount with recovering from the race. Next up i had 2 bikes to pack into bags, a quick pizza while i did my laundry, packed my cloaths for america and was in bed at 1030pm. Awake again at 5am on tuesday morning to start my journey to lake tahoe california. I had a 7am flight from milan, a quick 90min stop over in paris and i was on the flight to salt lake city at 11am. Arrived salt lake at around 2pm and instead of the planned 5hr wait for my connecting flight to reno i was put on an early flight so just 1hr was spent in salt lake and i was in the air again. Arrived in reno at 430, grapped my rental car, a very very cool dodge nitro 4x4 suv and before i knew it i was hauling my arse and thankfully suv full of luggage along route 50 to south lake tahoe. Arrived here at 6ish and figured a quick sauna to sweat out the travel was in order. After that had some tea, a big steak hamburger which i have been craving since leaving aus in january, put my rd bike together and was finally in bed at 930. Up at 730am for breaky and was on the bike by 9 to meet my team mate ted king, 4hrs and 140km later training was done and i had a hr or two doing the neccessary crocery and shopping for my training camp requirements. Off to dinner with ted and a good catch up on all the issues we did not manage to cover during the 4hrs on the bike and finally 930pm and i am ready for bed and i hope a big long sleep in tomorrow. I have tried not to let my body know what its been though there past 72hrs, crossing 3 continents, 24hrs on a plane and about 4 different time zone and i figure if i just keep going about my business as usual hopfully it wont get a chance to get tired and i will be all good. Certainly been a massive few days but it is seriously great to be here in tahoe and i am super excited about the training and racing ahead.

Good night

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