Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Hanging out with my new training buddy Lucas Neill and now Liquigas-Cannondale fan!
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Not very often Lucas Neill would pull on a jersey with another player's name on it!!!
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cadels day

Well today was certainly an extraordinary day in australian sporting history. By my analysis the only two significant sporting events we have not dominated until today was le tour de france and the soccer world cup. Until cadel came along both seemed a long way from happening but now the country has one in the bag and fingers crossed lucas neill and his men can get the next job done in 2016!!!

Cadels performance was simply amazing, he showed all 3 weeks that his engine was certainly running on all cyclinders and his courage to take the responsibility of the race on his proportinately more broarder shoulders than his rivals the schlecks, contador and voukler was somthing to admire. Having been fortunate enough to be mates with cadel since i inadvertedly caused him to crash his bike one day in 2008 when we were training together in ballarat, i have had the honour of seeing how he has worked toward his ultimate goal today. It is hard to have a conversation with cadel without the words le tour being mentioned in some way shape or form so to say it was his passion would be an understatement. Sharing aldo sassi as a coach with him since 2008 thanks to cadel organising our first introduction has always meant i have been fortunate to witness admire and respect the work he has put in.

Cadel is undoubtably an australian role model and legend, today with his victory in the greatest annual sporting event in the world he became and australian icon!!!

Good on ya cadel, you are a champion

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Soccer Time

This past week i have had the apsolut honor and privilige of meeting and spending some time with our mens national soccer team captain Lucas Neill. Lucas decided to spend a week at the Aussie Training Centre here in my little home away from home gavirate to kickstart his engine for the new european soccer season. I was initially asked to take him for a 2hr bike ride early in the week to show him the rds so he could use the bike as part of his programme. When he turned up wearing boardies, a t shirt, sandshoes and aboard a mountain bike i felt like a bit of donkey all dressed up in my usual work cloaths and equipment that goes with professional cycling. It became evident very quickly that lucas did not usually use the bike for exercise and fortunately the rain arrived so i directed him in the direction of the bike path where i was confident he would be safe and retreated to the warmth of my home and left him to enjoy the rain. Not really what i was expecting for our organised training session. That we caught up again for dinner along with the physio's from the training centre, Emidio and Vince and i realised that Lucas was pretty interested in learning more about cycling and how it all works. Luckily i had a spare cannondale race bike form the team at home and offered to lend it to him for his stay so he could get the feel for what cycling is like aboard a top line machine. I kitted him out in the full liquigas-cannondale team outfit including team issue shoes, it was quite fortunate that we happened to be exactly the same hight and cloathing size so all fitted him like a glove. Not surprizingly he quickly became hooked and was up at 630 each morning cutting hot laps around the lake getting pumped up for our next outing together scheduled for friday which i hoped would be a much more constructive couple of hrs compared to the non event of our first cycling date.

So with much anticipation for me we met up friday morning and as i had hoped had a very enjoyable 2hr 30min spin. I kept it as scenic as possible to show him the sights of the varese area and not to dis similar to Darrel Kerrigan of the Castle, lucas repeated on numerous occasion, "just look at the view" so i was pleased he was happy with my chosen route. Guess was a bit like me with rowing where you get a little borad about seeing the same thing all the time which i am sure is the same for him on soccer pitch day in day out. As for the ride itself it was very relaxed but i must point out he does ride like a soccer player. Firstly he had no problems bumbing into you occasionaly and also he would do these sudden bursts of speeding lasting about 6second before slowing back to a traquile pace. When i asked him why on earth the violent accellerations where neccessary he simply said he was trying to gain some momentum!!! if only cycling was that simple, unfortunately to go fast you has to keep going hard, i am pretty sure it was just the ingrown soccer player in him with all the constant bursts of speed. Rowers on the other hand ride like rowers, they hate it when you pump into them and go as hard as they can untill they cant turn the peddals anymore so quite he opposite. Certainly never go riding with a rower if you want a nice leasurely spin because rest assured it will be flat bannana until they run out of juice.

Along our journey we had a great chat about all things sport and i made sure i took the opportunity to inform him it is not only cycling that i have had a passion for on a sporting front. I informed him in great detail that i was not to shaby on the soccer pitch aswell and had even reached the summit in 1995 winning the 12C premiership with the Kariong soccer club on the central coast of new south wales. I remember the day like it was yesterday, my step father richard had painted the back of my neck in the team colours, red, yellow and blue and also around my eyes with the same colours to add some intimidation on our opposition. After scoring the goal that sent us through from the central midfield possition in the semi final i moved back to centre back for the final and loved. At the end of the day it was a 2nill victory for us and what i remember well is how much i enjoyed being that last line of defence and the satisfaction you got from shutting down the dangorous attacks on our goal. Sure your not up front taking all the glory scoring goals but i took just as much satisfaction from stopping them and chipping in that way to help the team out. Interesting that at 12 i already developed this trait and it took me another 14years to find a job in cycling that fits this mentality perfectly. I also remember it pissing with rain all day so the paint richard had so meticulously plastered all over my face turn me into somthing out of a horror show completely oblivious to me but i am sure it had an effect on my opposition, great tactic richard!! Anyway the reason i brng this up was that lucas being centre back i could explain why i loved it so much back in the day and the reasons for it which he obviously on quite a different level but i think was nice to know other people understand the crucial role he plays in a team, even if he does not score that many goals like his great mate and superstar harry kewell. Also this mentality i guess gave us common ground to discuss our jobs as they both require a mindset of self sacrifice and dedication to the success of the team so was nice to not only meet him but also have a conversation and interaction with some substance. Like i said to him when we were climbing the final climb before the decent back to the base in gavirate and i am sure he wont mind me saying but he was starting to show signs that it was actually the first time he had even done a climb on rd bike, sport is a great leveler. Here was our national captain and a man i admire highly along with the rest of the nation and i was encouraging him to the top of the climb, seeing him suffer a little and enjoying the experience with him you can see a side of people you cant replicate in a restaurant and for this is the beauty of the sport and the great bonds form as a result of it. It surely was a day in my sporting life i wont forget in hurry.

So that was my experience of meeting the grat lucas neill. We has some phots taken to comemerate the great occassion which i will post to my blog asap. I sent a photo to my Mum and with Lucas Neill being her favourite aussie sports star alongside Rick Charlesworth it certainly made her day and i am sure the photo will take pride of place in her lounge room over on Lord Howe Island. Its great when you can make your mum's day with somthing so simple, gotta love Mum's hey.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

2 From 2 for the green machine

After the great win by elia viviani in arono on Friday the team was again full of optimism for another win for simone ponzi yesterday in the second race of the arona racing weekend. After taking his first victory as a professional 2 weeks ago in Slovenia, simone was full of confidence and so were the team that he could get the job done. Therefore the battle plan was set by our director Mario scirea in the team meeting before the start and each of the 8 riders new exactly what was expected. I had my usual role of control the size of the break getting away and ensuring nothing too dangerous got up the rd. The 1st 50km was pretty much downhill to the lakeside town of arona on the shores of lago maggorie were we would begin 8 laps of a very challenging 15km circuit containing 4 small 1-2km climbs each lap. Due to so many people wanting to get away it was a very fast start and predicably all together after 50km when we reached the circuits. This was were we kicked into gear. After benefiting from the work of the team the day before, our two sprinters in jacabo and elia went straight to the front to set a pace that discouraged attacks. Sure enough 2 brave soles slipped away but that was it so objective one complete. For 4 laps our fastmen became super domestics and buried themselves to control the race and I found myself in the unique position of not working immediately and was moved back in the working order to later in the race so I was pretty excited about that. When the boys finally had given there all they swung off and instead of me taking up the work as planned Lampre decided to flex their muscles and take control of the peleton and I got shuffled back into the bunch. Having not really had much time in the bunch lately due to spending so much time working on my suntan up front the previous few races, I actually felt quite claustrophobic to all of a sudden having everyone bumping into me again, back to the real world of cycling I guess. I quickly got over this and started to switch into another unique opportunity of saving my energy for when it was required later in the race than I had anticipated being used when the race got under way. Not being very patient this again took a little while for me to accept but then once i relaxed and accepted i had to sit in the bunch i actually quit enjoyed it. For the next few laps lampre continued to work away and with 1 lap remaining I realised there was only 20 riders left in the front of the race, 3 of which from liquigas-cannondale and realised it was finally time for me to get to the front and with the nod of the head from team captain for the day simone Ponzi I ripped out a turn which like all great captains he launched an attack forming a selection of only 4 riders with 6km to go. From this point I just played policeman in the remainder of the peleton ensuring no other riders got across to make simone’s job any more difficult in the arrival. Simoni inturn delt with the other 3 riders very easily in the sprint to take his second win in as many races. All in all another very enjoyable day and for me made more enjoyable due to completely different role I played than the day before. It is always a nice feeling to be in the small group at the end of a hard race and then to also be able to help my team mate from that position is always a little more special than the mindless hrs of controlling a peleton for a sprint. For me it was a double victory as not only did simone win the race but I managed not crash! Finally after crashing in 3 consecutive races I had managed to keep my bike upright and although this should just be norm I was super duper excited to finally finish a race with all my skin intact. Another exciting part of the weekend was the arrival of my dad and his wife kellee and her 2 children haylee and ryan. Like the day dad arrived last year at the tour of Austria and my teammate Leonardo Bertagnoli won the stage, he arrived on Friday to see elia win the sprint. So to then have the team take the win again yesterday so his presence seems to have a bit of a patch of good fortune for my cycling team so it is obviously great having him here!!!!

Facts for the stage
Time: 4hrs 10min
Speed: 41.5kmph
Distance: 173km
Watts average: 290
Heart Rate: 151
Energy: 4350kcal
Elevation Gain: 2250

So after my little mid year break I have suffered through the week to get going again and after 2 hard days of racing the cobwebs are gone and its full gas form here to the end of the season.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Back at it

After my little mid season break i have been back at it this week and today raced in arona which is only 30km from my little european home town of gavirate. On all fronts things picked up where they left of before my break with another dominant victory by our sprinter elia viviani and i, like i did last race managed to drop myself on the ashfelt entirely through my own doing. Really very very stupid of me. The only positive was that a hit the ground on exactly the same spots as in slovenia so atleast i had experience on how to patch myself up and how to sleep comfortably with the right side of my body missing some skin.

The race went as we hoped, a small break got away, i went to the front to control to later be joined by a team mates and a few dudes from other teams with interest in the sprint. Closed the gap at a nice point in time for our other 6 fresh riders to set up the sprint and again with 4guys on the front with 1km the result was a great win by elia and another very enjoyable satisfying day even with the crash. tomorrow is another hit out in the same area so looking forward to i hope another successfull liquigas day.

3hrs 30min
290 av watts
147av HR

So pretty solid again

Need a good sleep

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mid Year Re Charge!

The past couple of weeks have been an forced mid season break for me. With no tour de france the team stressed the importance of me taking a little break to ensure i have all the batteries fully charged for the final few months of the season. For the first week i was instructed to do just an easy 2hrs every second day and this week just gone take completely off. Well kind of off, the team were a little short for a race last saturday so i actually found myself lining up in slovenia for the gp krnaj. Not much was exepected of me as i was meant to be on "holidays" but if i pin a number i find it difficult not to give as much as i can to help out. So after 150km on the front with a couple of my very strong team mates i did my final pull with about 4km to go. With 1km to we still had 5 liquigas cannondale boys on the front of the bunch who duly delivered the very talented and motivated lovely bloke Simone Ponzi to his first professional victory. It was certainly a very liquigas dominated event which was great to be appart off and always extra bit special to be appart of a victory within the team so i was happy my vacation period was momentarily disrupted. For the record my SRM data showed the following data which indicate it turned out to be far from an easy saturday for me:

Time 4hrs 11min
Speed 41kmph average
Watts 291 average
Hear Rate 146 average
Energy 4400kcal
Elevation Gain 1650m

So onto my second week off basically no training. I dont do this very well and am usually in a pretty horrible mood if i dont exercise. Realising i could not be like this for an entire week i got a list of all the little jobs needing to be done and also it is fortunate that i can waste many hrs on the golf course. I gave my bikes a little bit of a tune up to ensure they were ready to start work again on monday and also just a little bit of tlc that they deserve for the battering a put them through. I tend to be pretty hopless at admin tasks or more i put them off way to long so caught up on all that which was very satisfying and perhaps most excitingly i finally got my satalite dish connected to SKY. Sky is certainly way cooler than i could have ever imagined and really dont know how or why i had deprived myself of such a luxury for the past 5months. Having basically every chanel under the sun in both italian and english is only the start of its greatness, i can even watch a show in italian with english subtitles which has by far been the best way to learn the language i have come accross. I get not only to watch every tytpe of sport known to man but most importantly the australian league's of football in AFL and also Super 14 rugby so really i can turn my little appartment into a minor australian oasis simply by turning on the tele. Having home and away on the soap opera channels just really caps of an exceptional television service i cant thank the founders of the company enough for offering such a product. So sky tv kept me pretty occupied for a few days but with the week and jobs to be done coming to a close i decided to head over to Luzern in switzerland to watch my aussie rowing pals in the final rowing world cup of the 2011 season. Being only 200km away was a painless drive accross and was great to spend the weekend catching up with eevrybody and at the same time taking my mind of the fact that i was not riding my bike or exercising and hense keeping any grumpiness at bay.

It is always a stange experience for me going to watch the rowing. I am always interested to know how i am going to feel sitting on the bank watching my mates and old rivals from other countries racing by and wonder if i have any urges to get out there. I guess if i was ever going to be temped back into the boat, the difficult little few moments i had had over the past couple of weeks with not doing le tour would have potentially put me in a frame of mind that may consider this. To my surprize i had no desire whatsoever to get back in the boat. It was a refreshing feeling as although i have felt some pain in the past weeks with what has gone on all the time i was in luzern i just could think of nothing else than getting home and getting stuck back into my training tomorrow. I have deffinately completely moved on from my past sport i relaised and although i loved every minute of being there to support my mates i realised how truly happy i am to be riding my bike and doing a sport a truly love every little bit off. The highs, lows, everything, well almost everthing as i said before taking time off mid season is certainly somthing is i still find a little frustrating and difficult but i am sure in time i will get ontop of that. Maby it just means i have not been working hard enough and am not tired enough so i will be sure to samsh myself for the next few months so i trluy earn my next break mid october when the season wraps up. Back to the rowing and i certainly love being there, i also love and feel a huge desire to help my mates where i can and even if given the chance do a bit of coaching like i do with my school or advice on anything the guys might want to ask me. Having had now some great experiences in cycling which i think i have managed to both successfully and unsuccessfully in other areas combine some rowing things in my way of cycling, i think some cycling things can certainly help the rowing guys so in time i really hope i can help them in any way posible with i guess the unique experiences i have been so fortunate to have. On another note i was fortunate enough to meet perhaps the two most famous rowers in the world all be it for reasons not entirely due to there rowing exploits in Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. We had a very lengthy chat as like so many others these days they have become keen cyclists and very interested to know the ins and outs of the sport. It was also another little reminder for me that no matter who you are how sport is such a wonderfull thing in engaging with different people on a completely level platform free of status or fame or whatever other social restraints that limit interaction between different people and cultures these days. Here i was standing on the side of a rowing lake in the middle of europe somwhere chatting indepth with two dudes i had recently read a book about and watched a movie about along with the billions of others around the world and they were completely engaged and genuinely interested in learning about another sport and i felt liked to be getting more of an insiders view which they may not get watching tv. Anyway just a great reminder of sports ability to bring down barriers and allow to engage with people you never could have imageined doing so. They were greta blokes and i wish them all the very best for the selection and participation at the rowing world in Bled slovenia in late august. So that was my rowing weekend in luzern, as it turned out, it was full of surprizes.

So my break has come to an end, i have survived without getting too grumpy and also managed to feel like i have all in order around the house to get 100% focused on the very importaant 4 weeks of training that lies infront of me before the eneco tour on August 8. Time for bed and when i get up in the morning i cant wait to get back to work.


Friday, July 1, 2011

No le tour

Its been a long 3 weeks since my last blog. The reason is that i have simply not known and been affraid to write anything. The reason for which i will try and explain.

This year i have been 100% focused and set on earning a place on our team for le tour de france. Along with the many hrs of training with ivan around varese, everything i have done has been focused on making le tour team. On thursday last week that dream unfortuately ended for me when i was informed i was the reserve and would not be making my le tour debut. I have been affraid to write about what i was up to and my goals as i knew as the time for the selection approached my position was becoming more and more uncertain by the day. The fear of writing somthing and then failing in your endevour to achieve that is somthing that i just dont have the courage for. I prefer to quietly go about my business and only let those really close to me who actually understand me know what my true goals are. Up untill may everything was going perfectly to plan, ivan and i had been training very well together and had developed our system for how i could best assist him in the races. Unfortunately when i went to california everything for me came horribly unstuck. The sickness really knocked me on my bum and out of stubonness and stupidity i pushed on in the race and dug myself into a very deep hole. At the time it seemed like a great idea as i was charged by the adrenaline of riding for sagan and i loved being appart of his success and being able to contribute to the team in some way as i was unable to fullfill my role for the team in the gc. Returning to europe i knew i was in trouble and sure enough the stomach virus forced me off the bike for a week and i was back to square 1. Not wanting to give up on my dream of a spot on le tour it was now a race to get that condition back intime to be selected. First step was to get through the dauphine to kickstart the training and then head to altitude at san pelligreno with ivan for 2 weeks to hopfully get going again.

So for the past 2 weeks i was flat out training and was certainly on the improve everyday but i knew all along i was not at 100% and therefore did not really know what to write a blog about as i was scared of not being able to achieve one of the most significant sporting goals i have set myself. Those close to me know what they are, they are written on my gym shed door at home, i have ticked one off and i have 2 to go. Up untill this episode i was very confident i could achieve them all but i have certainly taken a hit on this one. None the less i will push on and try and make them happen. As i always so to those who come to me when somthing has not gone right, the tuff days make the good one's even better.

Basically the decision by the team was made a while ago that if i was all good and able to follow the progression of improvement up until le tour i would be there to help ivan in the mountains. Getting sick left this seriously in doubt in the eyes of the team and also myself and although they were prepared to give me every opportunity to regain my top condition i simply could not get there intime. The other option was for me to possibly fill a more all round flat land domestic role but in this team we have so many more experenced and strong men for this role in this team that i was the one that missed out. So i can completely respect the teams decision, to work in the hills tactics are certainly important but more so climbing ability and strength so a bit more suited to my skills. For the flat and bunch positioning it does not matter how strong you are if you dont have the craft the more experienced guys will litterly leave you dangling in the wind and ultimately km's behind the peleton so they are different roles and unfortunately my lack of all round ability at this stage meant i earnt the reserve spot.

So there it is, it has been a tuff time for me and it has been a while since i have built myself up for somthing so much that the let down feeling has certainly hit me hard, i have realised my fear of failure is pretty great which i am sure it is for most athletes and in my case i have tried to suffer in silence. Also i quickly realised in cycling it is very silly to allow somthing like this to get you down. You are employed to ride a bike and there are plenty of other races in the season and dwelling on this will only have a negative impact on me and i will let the team down so i knew it was important to get back on the horse so to speak very quickly. The team have been great and i am sure knew how much i wanted a tour spot and that i would be a bit let down but have immediately given me a new focus and race programme to take me through to the end of the season which i am super duper excited about. It also shows the experience of such a professional and top team to manage there athletes in the best posible way as i can now happily put the dissapointment of not being on the start line in france and focus on doing a great job for the team in july august sept oct and most importantly enjoy sitting on the couch and no doubt a few wind trainer sessions watching and supporting my team mates in france this july as my very good friend ivan basso fights for the yellow jersey. He has been great with me during all this and just being able to train with him right up until the day he left was an experience that i guess in itself is a bit of a dream come true. Still to come so close to the whole dream coming true i forgot how lucky i was to even be in the position i have been this season vying for a spot on le tour and all that happened in the process. I am certainly very very greatfull for even having the opportunities now and on reflection realise i have had a dream run and almost almost the apsolute dream run. Anyway back to work and i have also learnt that i am far from at the level of building myself up for one race in the year in this sport so also a little reality check of how things can quickly go wrong in this sport and to keep my head out of the clouds a little more in the future. Every week or everytime you pin the number is a great opportunity in this sport, either for personal success or more often for me to assist in the success of the team captains and its a good reminder to keep this as the focus.

So onto my new schedule starting tomorrow in slovenia, i have enjoyed a forced week of rest by the team so will be certain to breath pretty heavy tomorrow but on monday i will start working hard to prepare as best as possible for the final races of the season.

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