Friday, April 20, 2012

Trentino stage 4

Giro del trentino wrapped today with a quite panoramic stage which took us from the shores of largo d garda and to the summit of passo pordoi in the heart of the dolomites. I was super motivated for today as for a nice change I knew pretty much all of the route from my days on training camp with liquigas last season at san pelligrino. My plan was to go in the break which unfortunately was the plan of a lot of other riders aswell. That meant attack after attack after attack and after 80km of racing, 50km/ph average speed and having climbed 500m of altitude since the gun had gone off, 2 riders snuck of the front and a at this point decimated peleton happily took a nature break and a breather. The main field as so often happens on a balistic start like today reformed which makes everybody body wonder why we made it so hard for ourselves in the first place and the colnago team started tapping out there very gentlemanly tempo for the next 80km before we hit the vally rd before passo pordoi. So all was quite peacefull in the field until about 10km from the base of the final climb when liquigas swarmed onto the front and drilled. Not to worry I knew what they were up to and how they would do it and started to ease my way forward through what was now becoming a tired peleton. Unfortunately when people start to struggle they make small mistakes and on a harmless uphill dragging section of rd somone near the front clipped somone else's tyre and caused a massive pile up. With riders on the ground all around me I had not choice but to career straight into the carnage and hope for the best. This resulted in me stopping very suddenly, flying over the handle bars and proceeding to do a perfect summersalt quite conveniently onto another rider, landing squarely on my tailbone and head! I feared the worse as I flew throught he air but to my apsolute amazement I got up with nothing more than a groggy head, found my bike, even picked up my bottle which somehow came to rest between my legs, put my chain back on, and re mounted my bike. Only problem was by this stage the race was long gone up the rd and so close to the finish there is not charity wait for the crashers!!! Like there can be in other circumstances. So gruppeto for me today. I would have really liked to push hard on the final climb as I knew it so well and am interested to see my condition but adequate in cycling does not really permit you to attack the gruppeto when the race is already 5minutes up the rd. So non event day in the end. At the finish I was still a little dazed and when I reached into my pockets I realised my ventoline was in 100pieces. I have crashed a lot with that in my pocked and never broken one so maby it was the slight cushion I needed to avoid any serious injury. Regardless I am just happy to have got through this beautiful race, looking forward to some rest and then of to the USA where I will be racing the tour of gila. A lot of work in the bank so to speak now so am looking forward to seeing what I can do there.

First some sleep, a couple more days in gavirate then on the plane stateside monday morning.

The adventure roles on!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stage 3 trentino

Today we started with a clear objective, to defend the points jersey of our german sprinter mattias friedaman. We didn't, so that was very disappointing. The stage started with a threatening 7km climb which was going to make controlling who was in the break hard. For me the easiest way to control this is to sit on the front and ride at a tempo fast enought to try and dis courage to many dudes from attacking. This was working nicely and at the top 5 guys had about 5seconds on us so easy to pull back on the flat and launch mattias across. Unfortunately we set a little to higher pace and mattias has dropped from the field and we had to wait, In this time the group very quickly took 2min and no we had to chase it down with 70km to contest the intermediate sprints. So chase full gas we did with the 5 guys we had to work and got it down to 50 seconds but did not close it intime and the sprint and jersey was lost so big bugger but atleast we tried and failed as appose to not trying at all and in the process had covered the first 100km in 2hrs so we were not mucking around. Only problem was now we had 2 climbs to get our empty tanks over in the final 60km with the final climb of 10km averaging 15% so surfice to say there ended up being an equal amount of suffering for the remainder of the race all be it on a very empty tank. Oh the perks of the world of professional cycling!! Anyways one great thing about stage races is that until the final stage is run and won there is always another day to re focus on so that's what now excites me, more mountains and foul weather, they are even forcasting snow, can't wait to get soaking wet and get stuck into it, last chance to salvage somthing more than some great training km's from the 2012 giro del trentino.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Giro del trentino

Giro del trentino is underway for 2012 and myself and my champion system team are here in the beautiful trento region of italy ready to rock and role. Yesterday was what i like to call the men's 8+ which in cycling terms is a team time trial. The secret to these is very much like rowing, team work. That mean encouraging, looking out for each other and most importantly respecting each others strengths and weaknesses. Do all this and you produce a nice smooth team TT. We did just that. To be able to maintain a paceline, that being nice even pulls on the front and not having guys changing every 2 seconds which inturn illuminates recovery. We aimed for 8-10sec pulls, more if you were fresh and had the legs for it, which give the rider changing from front to the back plenty of time to get back in line, take some deep breaths and get ready to storm through again. The final catch is you need to finish with 5 guys so there enlies the importance of going the teams speed. I love these days so while my experience is limited I take on the role of back patter and doing what I can to keep spirits high, just like I enjoyed so much in rowing.

The result for us was a great ride, led from a technical stand point from our most experienced man in the area, craig lewis, we were smooth from the gun. We traded really good even pulls early on and in the final part those of us with a little more in the tank pulled for a little longer. We achieved our goal of not finishing last, we are not nieve and understand on the whole we are the weakest team here and also did not have all the neccessary equipment for a blistering TT. Our disk and super fast wheels which are crucial in such a discipline are locked in customs!! One of the bonus's of having stuff sent from china!! So we made do with what we and did a really good job and it was certainly the best display of team work within this team I have been appart of since we were in taiwan, I great day had by all.

As for today, well was a huge success with mattias freidaman, whom is our german sprinter shooting up the rd in the breakaway and taking the sprint jersey. The rest of the day for us climbers was not so great, we had hoped to set up chris butler, our demon climber for the stage but we got a bit out of sorts on the decent so nothing really happened! Anyway good news is we now have a jersey to defend so I can't wait for tomorrow.

Good night

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Time is ticking away here in tenerife and i have been spending a rather large amount of it doing what i came here to do, ride my bicycle. In the past 3 days my trusty training partner and i have knocked out 18hrs of riding and climed the equivalent of 2 accents of mt everest. So basically if we have not been going up we have been going down with not a lot of flat groung in between, its enough to make you feel sea sick at times but on the whole its been a very enjoyable 3 days. For me the hrs in the mountains are required simply to wake up my climbing pins again which have been put to sleep in the past 6 weeks since I left aus. Unfortunately feeling comfortable in the mountains take a very large amount of time gaining altitude and conversely if don't do it for a short time you feel like you are starting from scratch all over again. So inlight of that my objective has just been scaleing as many m of altitude as I can and I am fortunate that ivan has the same thing in mind at the moment making us a pretty good training combo.

The island of tenerife is pretty spectacular. I have no idea of the exact statistics but will endevour to find out before I leave on tuesday. At a guess however I assume its no more than between 80-100km in length and goes mountainous directly from the seaside so all the towns as a result as water views, great town planning by the spaniards! So the rds go upwards from every corner of the island with all rds leading to where we are staying at the islands major tourist attraction, the volcano el teide. So 2500 of climbing awaits once you end up by the seaside on the bike and no matter which of the endless routes you choose its a 45-55km climb back to the hotel. As you can imagine you go through quite the climate changes on the way up. Down low you have the bannana plantations, next up come the barron dry land, rain forest follows this then once within 10km of the base of the volcano you reach the rocky lava type fields which also means the start of bumby broken rds which is perhaps the only negative of the training up high in tenerife. The fact the rd are so cracked is a subtle reminder that the is a live volcano in the region and that everything in the vercinity is moving a little, hopfully it does not decide to really wake up and move a lot! Down below 1500m altitude the rds are mostly good so can't complain about that at all. It is certainly like no place I have trained before so can't draw any comparisons at all but one thing is certain that I will be back in a flash should the opportunity arrise in the future.

Once off the bike the hotel is magic. At the moment there are many of the worlds top cyclists staying the same hotel so Its a great opportunity to be around riders like brad wiggens, vincenzo nibali and of course basso. But even better still is that my good mate tassie and one of the worlds best ritchie porte is also here and has been my daily sauna comadre where have a good old fashioned aussie chin wag and catch up on who's who in the zoo. You certainly are reminded that it is a jolly small world when you go to a tiny island somwhere between europe and africa, check into a hotel at the foot of a volcano and run into one of your good mates from tassie. If you planning a trip here then let offer you the best advice I can which I also gave ritchie. He ask what he should pack and I said don't forget your blue bonds singlet as it could be freezing and you will need it to keep you warm at night or could be balmy so you will need to maximize tanning opportunities aswell as looking exceptionally stylish in the process!!

So that's a little from the island of tenerife, tomorrow is easter so we are for a special lunch at the local italian restaurante which will no doubt be a unique experience and I will be certain to publish a full report following the festive occasion.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012


The view from the one hot place (the sauna in the hotel) to an uncomprehendable hot place! The el teide volcano!


For the next 10 days or so i will be calling tenerife home as i start to prepare for the hilly tours. Our race calender now is going to be a very vast contrast to that of what we have been doing as the flat, and sharp rises on footpaths of belgium will be replaced by the regular 2 lane rds and 10-20km climbs in italy, america, japan, canada and china. I am really excited about the programme ahead as feel a little more comfortable in these type of races. So there is a need to adjust the training and prepare for the small tours and thats where tenerife fits the bill exceptionaly well.

The hotel i am staying at is located at 2100m above sea level and on the side of a volcano which i have read could erupt at any time. Fortunately the fatique of being at altitude has meant that i have not lost any sleep worrying about this, infact i have been that zonked since arriving 3 days ago that i would probably take a volcano erupting with me inside it to wake me!! The hotel seems built for cyclists, nice big rooms to spread out all our home comforts such as stretching mats, coffee machines, our buffet of training food and personal nutrition preferences and most importantly a good tv with good channels. Well perhaps most important is a good bed and fortunately the rooms have them aswell. Next is the tucker in the restaurante and not wanting to offend any other hotel i have been in over the years but the breakfast buffet and dinner's of salad and steak are simply devine and perhaps the best i have indulged in. Throw is a large safe area to keeps the bike stored, exceptionally friendly and helpfull staff, great training rds, and you have the perfect environment to train at your best.

Not surprizingly it is a popular place for cyclists to stay and train at at this time of the year with ivan basso, vincenzo nibali, roman kruziger, brad wiggens and my good mate from the land down down down under, ritchie porte. The training rds consist of one thing, up and down which i am sure you could guess from the fact that you stay atop a mountain. There is a bit of a plateu but its more that the rd rises less than the climbs that decend to all corners of the island so pretty much each day is climb climb climb. For example today i did 2hrs 30min nice and easy and 2500m of vertical climbing and that was an easier day, i am a little nervous to see how many m i will be assending when i actually start training!!

Anyway will get some photos and do a more indepth piece as the 10 days progress but for now its of to the sauna. To pass some time before a much anticipated dinner which i have been waiting anciously for since i finished last nights meal!

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