Monday, March 25, 2013

Catalyuna wrap

My week of racing in the beautiful sunshine of catalunya spain came to and end yesterday with a great inner city circuit right in the heart of barcellona. After 70km dordle along the Mediterranean coast to the city centre we hit the final circuits for one last 50km of what turned into torture! 8 x 6km laps which was made up of 2.5km in climbing, the same in descending! And a little bit of flat thrown in although I can't quite visualise where the flat bits were! The pace ramped up as soon as the laps began with the top 5 GC spots all separated by no more than 40 seconds there was sure to be fire works!

I settled in closer to the front than the back and awaited the fireworks to begin in ernest. As I predicted with 3 laps to go the wick was lit up by home town here purrito rodrigues and as I would turn out for a few min later I was in the right spot at exactly the wrong time! Having paid dearly for following his accellerations in the pyranees 2 days earlier I should have learnt my lesson! Alas I had not and set of in pursuit of him with my vand den brook and gesink. Alas after 1kn or so full block chasing the little spainaid I had to retreet to the protection of the main field and lick my wounds at another failed attempt to match it with the big guns!

The group was still large and of course rodrigues came back, I should have realized this before I went after him but I didn't! The couple of laps I was able to recover in a heavily garmin controlled peleton and by the final climb I was ready to launch again for the line. I moved up as we crested the climb for the final time and all of a sudden there was a wall of riders ahead of me and the rd totally blocked. So back into the bunch I went for the final plunge down to the line and that was the 2013 volta catalunya done and dusted. 18th overall would be my final GC position at the conclusion of the 1000+km covered so I was content with that.

For the team our rock spider christiano salerno finished safely in the field to wrap up his kom jersey and along with ratto's 2nd and two 4th's our group of cannondale men could hold our heads high considering the quality of field that assembled in catalunya this past week.

As for my assessment of my own performance?? I was about 5% off the top guys this week, around 25watts @ threshold give or take. I anticipated my level to be around 90-95% so all in all I am where I expected and I am very happy with where that has me compared to the riders I raced against this week. I knew I could grind and knew I had no more than 500 watts for 5' in me at the crucial moments in the race. As expected this was the point the brought me undone in the pyranees when I had to push beyond that initial effort. I have done no motor pace this year so expected to suffer a lot from the race rythm of world tour. As expected I did suffer! For the first 2 days it was everything I had simply to stay in the peleton when they were going full hook. This would have had a fatigueing effect on me so motor pace and now having the rythm there will eliminate that going forward to a large extent. Fortunately when we went uphill I got to recover a lot of the time. So from here the real work begins, I know now my foundations are good and its just a matter of not over doing it, absorbing the work, and having a good look at what I can do the eke out that next 5-10% before the giro begins on may 4.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Catalyuna stage 6

Some days it feels like you are simply chewing on your head stem the entire day! Today was one of those! It took 90km for a breakaway to form just intime for the first climb of the day. By this point however we were only 90km from the finish so the peleton was never letting anyone get to far away. Near the top of the climb it started to hail ever so lightly resulting in a temperature drop of around 15 degrees just in time for a 20+ km gradual decent on what I would class as a glorified footpath! Brillient!

So after being single file preying for the bottom of the decent we were 30km from the finish and finally the final climb of the day was on us. The sprinters that could climb ok smelt the victory and on the 5km gradual drag the past was kept high and consistent. This provided the first opportunity for me to get some rest for the day as it was easy sitting on the wheel and following the tempo. 1km from the top the big guns got frisky and started attacking so I had to open up the jets for a couple of minutes and ensure I remained in the front selection of a 10 or so riders. We were never going anywhere and the break was now dangling 15-20seconds off the front with only a 14km plunge to line remaining. I immediately attacked on the decent, not so much to get away, I am not that nieve that I could get away on the decent! But merely to keep the pace up as I know our spinter who can climb very well daniele ratto was in the group just behind and was up for the sprint. So down we plunged with me at the helm and the radio was buzzing with ole ole ole tirra WURF which means stay on the front and drill it!

So that's what I did, got some great help from BMC and with around 4km I realed in the final escapee's and at 3km I was on the rivit and handed it over to the bmc boys to keep the pace high for the run to the line. In the end daniele ended with another fine 4th which is a great result at this level. Also some consolation for me with an aussie winning so although the work for the team may not have resulted in a cannondale victory I was pleased to see simon gerrans get up there and take a win at the end of such a hard day on the bike.

For me today marked the first time I had been at the head of the world tour peleton for some time as I tapped out a tempo between 5-3km to go and it was a great feeling. Suffered I little bit as a result, been a while since I have dialed it up to 60kmph to string out the bunch but that what I am here for this week, to see where I am at and make sure I make I step forward from here.

Tomorrow looks really nasty with a twisty hard circuit around the city streets of barcellona. After today there will be some tired pins that's for sure so will have to eat a big bowl of grinta (determination in italian) for breakfast and do my best to finish of the tour in a strong way.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Catalunya stage 5

When I comes to drawing up an easy course at this level, it does not get much easier than today. The first 70km was downhill, a little climb for a few km, then another 70km of predominantly down hill to finish the 150km day off. Add to that a breakaway of only 2 riders heading up the rd meant chasing was not going to be too difficult so was a nice easy day. My team mate daniele ratto galloped to a fine 4th in the bunch sprint and chistiano consolidated his lead further in the mountains competition so was a good day for the cannondale green jersey. It was Crazy easy in contrast to yesterday where we did 5000m of climbing elevation in the pyrenees!

Anyways while it is great for the group to have a bit of recovery after a day like yesterday it also brings with it a renewed freshness in the peleton and the crazy dog fight for front positioning that transpires as a result. Yesterday although hard was easy to stay at the front, you don't get too many who will want to waste energy fighting for the front for too long so for me the hard days are far more enjoyable. Anyways today went straight forward and the break was gently reeled in with around 15km to go. The freddie fresh legs peleton then sprung to life and in the absence of any renowned sprinters it seemed all 160 riders felt they would be in for a chance in a bunch kick. Throw in a roundabout every 1km and it was a dog fight. I am useless in these situations and my politeness and lack of desire to increase the possibility of kissing the ash felt means that I am more likely to give riders space to pass than fight for the wheel. My teammates on the other hand where up the front charging on the front of the bunch relishing in the chaos and gave daniele I the best chance possible to do well in the sprint. Anyways the inevitable finish line was finally crossed and I had all my skin and had freshened up a little so looking forward to the slightly more challenging stages that remain over the weekend.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Catalunya stage 4

The hats off award for today goes to out climbing pain craving specialist christiano salerno. He made one of those breakaways that includes only superstars today and in the process charged up all the climbs and all but secured the king of the mountain jersey! So an awesome performance by him.

For me it was an improved day. After my cocky attitude yesterday decided to play my cards a bit smarter and retreated to the protection of the peleton for the final climb. I sat patient why sky used there men and waited for the inevitable fierce tempo setting of rigoberto uran which duly happened between 8-5km to go. I survived this just and made the final major selection. This was as good as it got for me however as when katusha took up the pace setting inside the final few km I was the first one to be unhitched from the group of superstars (that being all the other guys and not including me) just inside 2km to go. Today I held my nerve better and kept the group and my pace in check. At the line I was 15th, and losing 40seconds to the likes of wiggins, gesink and van den brook. After 6hrs of racing and 2 20+km climbs in the final 60km of the race I see this as a real test of my endurance level at the moment and I am content with where I am at. Specially being my first race of the season basically. The most important thing is not where I arrived today but how I go away from here and use this weeks experience to continue to progress throughout the rest of the season.

Race data:
6hrs 5min
Heart rate average: 140
Power average: 290
Max power: 1110
Calories burnt 6500kcal
Best 5min power: 490watts

What makes me really happy is that some of the data from todays race is up there with my best previous efforts so to be finally able to deliver this in a race is a huge step forward for me. For to long I have had no dramas training hard but not matched that level of effort in the race. Today the tables finally have started to turn and to do it also on the longest hardest stage of the race gives me great confidence going forward.

Time to refuel the tank for another intensive day tomorrow

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Catalunya stage 3

Today has been a day I have been looking forward to for a very long time. A mountain top finish in a world tour race with many of the top riders in the world in the field. Added to that being able to race such a stage with a good condition and healthy body so today all that fell into place for me, I chance to see where I stood with the big boys! From the teams perspective I certainly failed in setting up a GC position but christiano salerno consolidated his lead in the KOM competition so tomorrow he will be going all out to consolidate that so go christiano!

It was the perfect stage for me, 3 climbs and only 1 decent! One thing was certain today, I would find my way to the front at some point on the long drag to the finish at 2200m altitude. At the of the day I would be dropped from this position with 2km to go and concede 1 minute to the winner, as for my placing I am not sure, perhaps the top 30-40 but what I took and learnt from the day is what is most important to me.

Firstly I felt fantastic, perhaps the strongest I have ever felt going into a bike race, unfortunately I did not share my confidence with my team mates and. Free lanced my way around the bunch and as I often do when I feel good wasted a lot of energy. Into the final climb I knew the big names to follow and when robert gesink put his men on the front I was right there behind them as bradley wiggins was very generous in giving me the wheel ahead of him. This unfortunately proved to be my first mistake, I knew the wind was infront but figured sitting 3rd wheel would ensure I could ride a consistent tempo so decided taking the wind was a good option. I seemed to be as the km ticked by and was sitting pretty up front but when jurgen van den brook attacked and gesink followed I had not choice but to go aswell. This put me on the limit and then came the much feared sky train! Again I took the wheel at the front right behind sky but now it was full gas inside 3km to go and I was on the rivit. Added to this the altitude was touching 2000m and having not done any altitude training for 8 months being on the rivit at altitude aint the best position to find yourself in. Anyways on we charged and when we hit 2km to go and the steep kick to the line I put on the reverse lights and went backwards fast! Turns out the world tour pace on the climbs is a bit much for having not raced at this level for over 18months and I had to do my best to survive.

I will take a lot from the day regardless of where I finished. First up from the mistakes I made in being way to confident in my own ability considering the competition I was facing and second not have the courage to let my team mates know how good I felt and give me a little hand in taking some wind for me. But hey, its the first race of many big ones this year and returning to the team I am still re familiarising myself with that so all good. It was so nice for me to be able to simply go tow to tow with the big boys I have been watching admiring on TV for the past year and wanting so badly to be back amongst it. I saw them all attack and I heard them all breath heavy, I even saw some struggle, unfortunately today in the end I was the one who stuggled the most! If I also look at my role in this team which after catalyuna switches to support of our grand tour captain Ivan basso then I could not be happier. I was right where I need to be deep into a mountain stage and had he have been there would be been able to have him positioned perfectly to deliver for the team. That what my role is here and that's what they pay me to do so I am super excited about the upcoming races with him on my wheel. That always gives me a few more watts of motivation and exuberance!

Onto tomorrow and its another cracker, again more climbs than decents so will see what I can conger up there, just awesome to be back here racing at this level and seeing the front of the race, not just riding with these guys but being right there in the thick of it RACING them!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Catalunya stage 2

Good day here in catalunya for stage 2. on what was a pretty straightforward day designed for a group sprint our budding your hardman/fastman daniele ratto galloped to a fine 2nd. The boys in green swarmed to the front in the final 10km and with 3km to counted 7 guys from the team in the first 30 riders which is just how always want to be. After the initial flat and easy 120km we were faced with 4 laps of a technical 10km circuit around lake benyoles north of barcellona, the site of the 1992 olympic rowing regatta where steve hawkins took tasmanias first ever olympic gold medal. Having watched his race a thousand times I felt I had an advantage of knowledge of the area but alas this knowledge of the rowing course did not extend to knowledge of the rd the twists and turns around it!!

The first 2 laps were crazy with riders going everywhere but fortunately it was hard enough that dudes started to get tired and moving up become very easy in the final 2 laps. With lap to I was right at the front and even took my turn on the front leading the group into a technical left hander ensuring our boys got through unscathed. From there it was plane sailing as we stayed around the front protecting our sprinters and in the final kick to the line ratto did an awesome job to take second.

Salerno retained his mountains jersey so all in all the cannondale jersey is getting plenty of air time. Tomorrow arrives the first of 2 very hard mountain top finishes so I am looking forward to that. Been a long time since I have raced up a long climb at this level so will be good to see where I stand!

Time for some shuteye

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Catalunya day 1

It was blowing its behind of today for day one of catalunya which made for the usual tense peleton when these conditions prevail. Fortunately for our boys christiano salerno was feeling frisky this morning in the days breakaway and by days end had earned himself the king of the mountains jersey which is a nice feather in his cap! The rest of us just sat quietly in the bunch and waited for the inevitable catch to be made, I say quietly but with the wind it was quite the tense battle for position for the entire 4hrs which always keeps you on your toes. I was feeling very good and fortunately was able to spend most of the day in a good position up the front, at least until the crazy maniacs went bezzerk on the final plunging decent to the line and 12 riders stole some time on the rest of the peleton. It was a who's who up front so really no excuses, but you expect the big boys to attack on the climb and not the decent so I was a bit of guard, one moment I was there at the front then a few corners later I had no idea where they went! Anyways was good to not suffer to much with the rhythm having had so much time away from this level of racing and I am looking forward to the week ahead.

As a team we did our best to stick together as usual making it as painless a day as possible but inevitably with days like today we lost each other in the washing machine a little to often aswell. We will gell as the week goes on I am sure.

A highlight for me today was chatting with sir bradley wiggins. I had recently read his book where I noted he considered switching to rowing for the next olympics. I thought I should have a yawn with him about it which was pretty interesting during a relaxed period of the race. I made it very clear to him that if he wanted to he would have no dramas switching codes. The best example is drew ginn who switched to cycling only to switch back to rowing 2 years later and found himself 10% stronger than he had been in the past. Holey dooley!! Imagine how strong sir wiggo would potentially be in a rowing boat! Anyways he insists it won't happen but was interested to know if I would consider jumping back in the boat at some stage, the answer, absolutely!! Should I achieve the things on my list in this sport in the next few years the 2020 in a boat is somthing I will never rule out.

Anyways the point I am getting to was what a great reminder it was to me of how sport is the ultimate leveler! Here is annoying wurfy from tasmania chatting to sir wiggo, arguably the greatest sportsman on the plannet at the moment and it was a great conversation. It progressed inevitably back to cycling and the usual race programs and training programs coming up for us both but for me it was just great to have good old normal chat with a bloke I have been watching and admiring and trying to learn from since I began cycling. The way status can seemingly be swept aside simply by placing 2 blokes in a lycra outfit and sticking them on bike and pedalling it flat out throughout europe.

Having said that, he well and truly reminded me of why he is sir wiggo with the classy way he skipped away on the decent today, certainly one of those guys in the bunch that if at all possible, its a good idea to try and follow him!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

The euro swing begins

After the early season lack of thrills and plenty of spills! Through in some race cancellations and program changes! I will finally get the season going proper in the volta catalunya tomorrow.

I love this race, don't know why, maby its because its in the land of the most relaxed people, I.e. the spanish, there casual demeanour seems to be infectious! or could be the late race time starts giving me the chance to sleep in all week, whatever it is there is something relaxing and enjoyable for me spending the week down here in the catalun region of spain, which is basically the area that surrounds Barcelona.

The race has a format that I really like. A couple of days to soften the legs, not to hard and not to easy which usually arrive in large group sprints but normally a more tired group than crazy chaos of leadout trains and revved up fast men!! So for me this is a more enjoyable way to kick of a race. Then there are a couple of hard mountain top finishes where the GC is sorted and if you like the climbs you have plenty of opportunity to display your skills. Next up is a couple more harder sprint stages which is again enjoyable and then a final shorter stage in barcelona which this year is circuits of a hard little climb which will ensure the pressure needs to be on the pedals all the way to the end. So all in all its a great race and one I am anxious to get my teeth into this week.

I have had a good last couple of weeks since arriving in europe. For the first time I have had the opportunity to adjust to the time and climate change in a very relaxed manor without the added stress of heading to a race or training camp. It been great just riding around and re familiarising myself with my training rds, getting back in the routine of meeting basso along our usual reunion point to head of for training, set up my apartment, and most important enjoy the italian food which seems to be incapable of ever letting you down! The italians sure do get the things to fuel your body just spot on right.

So with this great few weeks of settling in, banging in some harder training in the past week or so and all the time being perfectly fuelled up I am champing at the bit to pin the number on and get stuck into the season proper!

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Casa Cannondale Pro Cycling

Over the past 8 seasons the maglia verde jersey has become an eye catching symbol of the professional peloton. The name Liquigas has become as prominent as the team colours.  2012 however saw the curtains close on a sponsorship deal that has supported many great riders and victories.  The team became one of the most prominent of the peloton, bred in one of cycling’s heartlands, Italy.  With it developed a culture and strong foundations for success, a prominence that is to continue for years to come.  Sensing the opportunity to put its name further into the cycling spotlight, Cannondale upped its commitment to form the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  This exciting new venture is sure to greatly enhance its research and development capabilities.  Sponsorship in professional sport is never a lifetime guarantee.  It’s a business, and cycling is not immune from the challenges that team managers face on a day to day basis regarding the continued funding and running of their teams.  This season sees the reins passed from the Liquigas Sport Mangement group to the Brixia sport group.  At the helm remain Paolo Zani and Roberto Amadio who remain the backbones to ensure the teams already solid foundation continues to grow into the powerhouse squadra is today.


The new team will inevitably bring some exciting changes in the direction and focus of the team moving forward.  The tried and trusted Italian traditions will remain at the heart of the team, a more international focus will carry the team forward.  The first mission for Roberto Amadio and the team of sports directors, headed by Stefano Zanatta, was to bring a more international flavour to the rider roster.   I am grateful this provided an opportunity for me to return to the squad that I had so much enjoyed being part of in 2011.  I am the first and only Australian to ride for the team, and still have to pinch myself a little when I pull on that famous bright green jersey.  For the first time a Japanese rider, Yuki Masuda, has joined the team, further illustrating the push to globalise the team.  This season also sees riders from Austria, Germany, Canada and Denmark joining the ranks. Add this to Poland, Slovakia, Cech Republic, Columbia, America, Slovenia, and of course Italy, it is one of the most international rosters in the world tour.  The Staff have remained very much the same, prominently Italian, however the past few years has seen other nationalities trickle into the core group of workers who keep the show on the road.


Every team in the professional peloton has its own unique identity of how it runs and competes.  Teams all have one thing in common, a lead rider, the ‘go to guy’ when it comes to getting results.  The focus for our team is both present and future oriented, fostering our existing leaders and working on the development of the next crop of lead riders.  Peter Sagan has been the spearhead of our attack in recent years.  At just 22 years of age he will no doubt continue to play this role for the team for many years to come.  Alongside Peter stands Moreno Moster, who had an impressive debut professional season and eagerly awaits more success, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his famous Uncle, Francesco Moser.  Elia Viviani is the man the team will look to in the sprints, and Damiano Caruso has been earmarked as a possible Grand Tour Leader.  Our squad captain will again be Ivan Basso.  Basso will lead the team in Grand Tours, with the podium in any of the 3 events he targets, well within his reach.  As he is entering the final years of his racing career, he will provide an invaluable mentoring role to our younger riders and the continued development of the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  The remaining riders form the ‘engine room’ to what the team hopes will bring many victories.  Of course, there will always be things that can go wrong, and it’s important to have others read there to take up the slack.  The diverse makeup of our team means we are able to line up at just about any world event and hopefully put on a good show.  This is a great strength for any team to possess.  This season will see Sagan focus on the Classics of the north before turning his attention to retaining le Tour de France green jersey.  Moser will look to the Ardennes Classics to shine, before making his much anticipated grand tour debut.  Basso will focus on taking out his third Giro d Italia, before focusing on another grand tour podium.  Viviani will be our man in the sprints year round, whilst Caruso will be a solid General Classification candidate in whichever races he is sent to.  It is evident that the Management team have built an exciting and promising roster, Cannodale Pro Cycling team is certain to be both present and prominent whenever it races.


With many years of racing under its belt the team has a tried and trusted way of racing.  Throughout the Liquigas years a family type environment has been established.   This means you never feel alone or isolated when riding in the maglia verde.   Cycling is a unique sport, the entire team is required to put in a huge amount of effort to secure the success of one rider who will then reap the benefit of worldwide media attention, the opportunity to earn a good income, and often become a national and international heroes.  Although the team captains have endless gratitude for the team mates who help secure the win, you may think its normal for all riders to want a bigger piece of the pie themselves.  This is not the case within the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  The family environment, established by Roberto Amadio and his team, has meant that ever rider knows his role and is both happy and grateful to have the opportunity to perform on an international stage in whatever position.  There is never debate as to who should be the focus for the day.  The management decision is always supported 100% by the riders.  Regardless of the outcome, the team will always be seen riding as one in the bunch, giving our leader the greatest opportunity to succeed.  Obviously when a great result is achieved it is very satisfying for all.  Speaking from a ‘work horse’s’ perspective,   my most gratifying moments have come from witnessing the success of my team mates, particularly  when I feel I have had a real meaningful contribution to their victory. When the team objectives are not met, while there may not be the excitement associated with a big victory, we all share the disappointment as a team and move on and look forward to working together the next time and chasing victory another day.  This family mentality has allowed the team to form its collaborative approach.  It’s a culture that has not developed overnight but one that is so ingrained in this team that it will be with it forever.

I signed my first Liquigas Sport contract at our teams home, our service course located in Sesto al Reghena, situated in north eastern Italy, half way between Venice and Treviso.  The farm setting of the magazino seemed as idyllic as the team itself.  This setting gave me the first true appreciation of the traditional and sound footing with which the team has been built.  The old homestead has been converted into offices, a gym and accommodation for staff and riders passing through.  The farm sheds have all been immaculately restored into workshops and storage rooms whilst maintaining their rustic and traditional exteriors.  The adjacent lush green paddocks act as packing space for the team trucks, buses, cars and all the other vehicles associated with a world tour cycling team. To top it all off the man at the helm of the ship, Roberto Amadio, has his residence in an adjacent farm house. In every sense Roberto lives and breathes the team and has created a homelike environment for the team. Why is this important about the team? To me it represents the start of it all, where all major decisions are made, where the organisation is done, where everything departs from when we embark on a racing schedule and finally where everything returns once the trips are said and done. At races, both on and off the bike, we are like one big family.  That all starts at Sesto al Reghena, the rock of the Liquigas  It’s been the rock of the Liquigas team for many years and will surely give the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team an exceptional launcing framework for the 2013 season and beyond.



The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team is far from the new kid on the block, the name may be new but everything behind it is backed up by years of tried and trusted routine.  For me the framework developed by Brixia Sport allows new major sponsors, like Cannondale, to enter with piece of mind surrounding their investment.  In investing terms, to me, it’s not a speculative stock but more a blue chip stock.  As a result it means that the wheel does need to be reinvented but simply tweaked a little to keep the new project rolling.  Cannondale have made it known that they want to take a collaborative approach to research and development. This is surely to bring some exciting new developments in Cannondale cycling equipment.  As a major manufacturer, Cannondale have the opportunity to refine their products in the best test laboratories available, the world tour peloton.  This has great scope in a team like Cannondale due to the diversity of our riders, who excel in varying types of terrain.  Be it Sagan testing the Synappse on the cobbles of Flanders, or Moser pushing the evo the limit in the harsh terrain of the Ardennes.  Basso needs comfort and reliability from his evo and slice rs if he is going to challenge for a grand tour podium and Viviani will put enough watts through his bottom bracket to power a jumbo jet!  Critical feedback can be obtained, in turn giving Cannondale the opportunity to pass the knowledge and extensive research to customers through a range of bikes.  For riders it’s a golden opportunity to work with the supportive team at Cannondale as we strive to obtain every edge on the road. The Cannondale staff work to the slogan “crazy passionate performance”.  This illustrates their dedication to developing the best bicycles through continued research and innovation.  Through feedback and discussion with some of the finest engineers, we as riders are able to help them deliver the best possible equipment to take into battle. In this day and age the equipment in the professional peloton is becoming more scientific whereby any small gain can be the difference between winning and losing.  Research and development is set to play a major role for the team.


 While a new name and title sponsor will always bring changes, thanks to the leadership of Roberto Amadio it has been a very smooth transition for the team. The first training camp which took place in Tuscany in December 2012 was the first time the team had congregated to get a feel for any changes to the traditional set up.  Along with the Italian setting, many parts of the camp followed the tried and trusted routines that have carried the team into successful season after successful season.  One major change was the time spent educating riders and staff on the functionality of the equipment.  Also interesting was the use of English during these workshops.  English is certainly the prominent language in the peloton, whilst our team predominantly speaks Italian.  It is fantastic to see all riders and staff working hard to enhance their English skills.   This has helped new arrivals induction into the family happen far more rapidly.  Whilst the adjustment for the team could have been a difficult one, the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team has embraced it.  It seems to have added to the culture, enhancing the international flavour.  As a relative new comer to the team it has increased the sense of responsibility to be a part of Cannondale and Brixia Sport’s desire to further develop this international cycling team.  The name may have changed but the heart and soul well and truly remains. The foundations are already in place and with the assistance of the “Crazy Passionate Performance” people at Cannondale it is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.



Roma maxima

Today was a day where you feeling extra fortunate to race as a professional cyclist. The reason being that I had the honor of participating in an historic new event if that makes an sense (the race has has a 7 year hiatus) being the Roma maxima! As the name would suggest it did start in Rome and as the second name would suggest maxima! It started and in finished in front of the colosseum! I had never been to Rome before so like so often I was treated to an historic tour whilst racing my bike. Once out of the city the course did not get any less spectacular as we basically did a tour of romes most famous castles and towns with which they are located. The race was for me was simply a lung and leg opener following my arrival in Europe. I had not done any solid work for 6 weeks due to ensuring that my body healed after the down under crash so today's I simply wanted to do what I could for the team and enjoy this historic occasion. 

After the finish I ran into chris reason from channel 7 in Australia and he informed me that the spectacular castle we past at the mid point of the race I was admitting from a luxurious position at the front of the field about 5 riders back was indeed where good old pope Benedict is enjoying his first days of retirement. A this point in the race we were going pretty solid up a 10km climb with the work being done by the Astana team. I felt very good with this consistently hard pace and had no dramas staying up front, as usual when it stays consistently hard for long enough I tend to find a good rhythm. On this occasion it was perfect as it meant I could admire the surroundings not only on the way up the climb but also on the fast twist decent that followed it. I feel sorry for those up the back as I am sure the sling shot effect in and out of the corners made it far from enjoyable for them but I certainly was going to be subject to the same punishment later in the day on the sharp punchy climbs so was enjoying my time in the sun and the scenery.

Sure enough the usual Italian style happened and once down the decent astana decided to stop driving the pace and the crap fight and kamikaze for position began again as every body pushed for the front. We did wind it up on the penultimate climb which split things up nicely but like before once over the top nobody wanted to push on and it was argy Bargy again for the base of thfighting climb. Being my first race back after my big crash in tour down under is was a little tentative and sure enough got shunted way to far back and with it my enjoyment of time up front had come an end. Once  I was certain our team captain was in a good position for the climb I just ensured I stayed safe and set about climbing through the field as best I could on the final climb. Once on the climb the pace went up and I casually cruised on past the riders getting dropped measuring my effort as I was not interested in pushing myself to deep as I had not done any intensity for 6 weeks. The was served as a kick starting the system for the hard work ahead of me over the next 2 weeks. Alas by the top of the climb I had negotiated m way around about 100dudes and I was at the tail of the front group which ultimately went to the line, 30 odd I guess so was happy that without to much effort I could comfortably be at this level. The decent was another issue and after a couple of hairy corners where riders went off the rd i lost some precious ground and few more technical corners later the group was out of sight and I never saw the front again. As if you ever need reminding that starting at the front is crucial I was again falling fouls to this error. It is often the case for me in the early season races of the season as It jus takes me a few races to get comfortable with banging handle bars again. I usually enjoy the luxury of working for the team where I can comfortably sit on the front but when I don't have this luxurious role I find it a little tricky early in the season in the bunch. Good thing is as the years go on I tend to find my bunch craft quicker and quicker so I am certain that b the time Catalyuna comes around I will be ready to fight!

The front group never caught the last rider of the breakaway and the Frenchman Brielle kadre won the race of the gladiators solo, I guess it is only fitting that a rider arrive solo in the battle for line honors in the shadows of the colosium. Our leader for the day damiano caruso could manage 13th so was respectable and I certainly feel a little disappointed I could not be up there to help him in the finale but today for whatever reason I was not up to the task. 

Next stop is the Volta Catalyuna in Spain which following the run of disasters in tour down under will mark m first major race for the season. It starts in 2 weeks and after feeling so comfortable today following no hard intensive training for such a long time and the recover period from my crash I am really excited about working super smart and hard over the next 2weeks to be read for that challenge.

So the trip to rome was far from a successful one as far as results go but was a great day as far of being part of such a spectacular event. Also having my first race in Europe with the team was great, it's always a massive honor to race any day with this team and simply pulling on the bright green jersey seems to give you a few extra watts of power. I quick check of the power meter confirmed this and gave me alot of optimism going forward. On the final climb I was able to do a good solid consistent effort as I had started so far back. For the 12minute climb I averaged 460watts while my heart rate only reach 180bpm which was due to me not pushing to hard but at the same time pushing hard enough! Also doing it on the final climb after 4hrs is more relevant to me as I could do this with some fatigue in my legs so again was a pleasant surprise. My max power at some point in the race hit 1260 watts which is one of the highest I have ever recorded so I know that I have down the work. Now I just need to sharpen up over the next couple of weeks and get myself not only physically race ready but also mentally ready. As with most things in life the cycling battle happens as much with the mind as it does with the legs.


Saturday, March 2, 2013


Taking the bus to work today
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