Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stage 4 poland

We are certainly some decent miles into the legs here in the tour of poland. Today we knocked out another 250km when the tranfer to km 0 was added to the 236km race. Fortunately we had a 44kmph average which as fabian cancellara pointed out to me today it makes a massive difference to the race time over the longer distance than 40kmph, indeed it saved us about 45min of saddle time so he had a very good point. Not only that but at such a high average speed I am getting some great race rhythm into the pins.

As far as the race went we had a similar plan to yesterday, protect ivans gc position and give ratto the best chance for the predicted sprint finish. We did all this and as planned moving the final 10km we were on the front, well atleast I was which was nice to get some fresh air in the face and sweep up the days early break away. Unfortunately for us and every other team apart from BMC, Taylor phinny put in an impressive attack with 6km to go and held onto to win solo. I had a feeling such an attack would be a chance today as the peleton seems pretty tired from the 23hrs of hard racing in the 1st 4 days of the tour of poland. Anyways phinny laid his you know whatters on the line and stole the show so hats of to him. Ratto improved big time on his showing from yesterday to finish 5th in the sprint for 2nd which was won by steele van hoff. He great mate and ex geneysis team mate nathan hass did a mass of work on the front all day to ensure a bunch sprint and should a super phinny not have been present then steele could very well have chalked up his first world tour win. Anyways 2nd it was and again showing that andrew christie johnston's huon genysis team based in little old tassie is a breeding ground of world tour talent, will be interesting to see who next makes the step up behind Nathan Earl next year.

Our cannondale boys while not setting the results sheet alight are laying some important foundations as far as team work goes for the Vuelta. Basso loves to know all is under control just like I do and that means spending a lot of time up the front so that's what we have been doing. Also in the final km's my work on the front has been as much about giving us the right to stay up front and out of trouble as it has been to set up the sprints for ratto. All in all we need these 2 lead up races to get the group working perfectly together and ensure everyone knows there role and we can see who is good at what. No point getting a rider that feels more comfortable pulling on the flat pulling on the climb and vice versa! So these long days in poland on varying terrain have given us some great feed back to ensure the system works as closely to clockwork as it can at the big objective for the final part of the year, the VUELTA!

One exciting little game I have been playing this race is trying to influence nature breaks within the bunch. In the past I have had the knack of choosing a moment when I should not stop and suffering like there's no tomorrow to get back to the peleton. Anyways doing my quest to save energy in the giro I seemed to improve in this area so its been an interesting test to see if I remembered this skill and had really learnt anything! It turns out I have and everytime I have stopped this race for a nature break so to has what appears to be half the field either everyone has the some nature stop body clock as me or I am finally choosing the right moment to pull over! This has a few advantages, firstly with so many stopped its pretty normal that the pace at the front slows considerably, secondly there are plenty of people to ride back to the peleton with, and thirdly it gives you a chance to grab some bottles for all your team mates from the team car on your way back through the convoy. All in all, all these things as up to stopping for a nature break being a relieving and relaxing exercise and good way to pass some mindless hrs in long stages like we have had here in poland!

My legs are certainly in the hurt box, its the most fatigue I have felt for a very long time but on reflection its no surprise. I barely could pull the skin off a rice custard in the giro and have not done any significant work since so you have to expect a little pain so I can make some serious gains! Fortunately I don't seem to have lost my endurance and feel more comfortable the harder and longer the stages are so I just need to stick to the plan and let these races bring me back up to speed. I am already feeling better jumping out of corners and I know when you get that feeling like you can accelerate out of slow corners I know my top condition is not far away so I am pleased with that. Now we have a couple attrition days which are certain to really test the fatigue levels of the whole bunch so I am looking forward to seeing how the body reacts to that!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Poland stage 3

For the 3rd stage of the tour of poland we finally got to race on polish soil! Was a pretty long journey on the menu today, 226km with 15km of neutral transfer before km 0 so by days end we had logged almost 250km once the ride to start and bus after the finish were factored in. After the 2 days in high mountains today was for the sprinters and while it was rarely flat it was certainly not an overly challenging terrain so gave me a good chance to get a little much needed race rhythm into my holiday legs!! The tour of poland is always full of surprises and hidden difficulties and today was no different with an annoying light drizzle peppering us all day. It was annoying as it was not heavy enough to be called rain but not light enough not to wear a rain jacket so was just uncomfortable. Also there was just enough to make the road wet and not soaked which always seems to be more dangerous than if its just pouring down.

In any case the race went to script with a small break skipping clear early and building up a healthy lead until a chase was organised behind. I felt better as the day went on, nothing like 5hrs of motor pace to snap some life back into the pins and by the time we entered the 6km finish circuits we were to complete 3 times I was ready to lay down some watts and help our captain daniele ratto to a good sprint result. With 18km to go the break still had over 2minutes so when I heard this I immediately went to the front and started pulling full full gas. At this point if the gap does not start to drop quickly the break gets a sniff and you can't let that happen! I felt great at the head of the field and enjoyed committing all my horses to the chase to see how quickly I could pull the peleton along. There something cool about going absolutely full gas at the head of the field and when no one wants to swap with you you know you are doing a decent job of it so I loved the chance to pull as long and hard as I could in those final 18km. It was great training and these first few days of racing have been great for my confidence in light of hitting my straps for the tour of spain. With a lap to go the break was back to 20sec and I was cooked but knew it would all come back together. Unfortunately ratto got a bit caught out inb the sprint but it was great to see thor win if ratto could not. He is a lovely bloke and always has time for a chat so always nice to see the good guys of the bunch getting up for the win. Not only that but to see steele van hoff finish 2nd was also awesome, he is an adopted tasmanian and I have had the honour of spending many hrs training down in southern tassie with him. Its always a case of pinching yourself thinking in january we were chasing andrew christie johnson behind his scooter back into richmond before having a sprint to the bakery! Now we are here in europe racing amongst the worlds best and that sprint of steeles that if have seen so many times in training is now going head to head with the worlds best, pretty cool I reckon! It won't be long until he scores a big big win!

Tomorrow we have pretty the same in store as today so looking forward to a little more motor pace and hopfully some full gas work in the final km's to keep the shock and awe tactic pumping through my pins which are still stuck in holiday mode! Getting there!

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Poland stage 2

The tour of poland continued its voyage through the italian dolomites today. On the menu was 3 major climbs and 4500m of elevation gain with the finish atop the famed passo pordoi. In the end the victory went to a survivor of the days early breakaway and none other than christophe riblon who can add italy's famed mountain stage victory to his alp d'huez victory in the recent tour de france. What a couple of weeks he has had.

For the cannondale boys the plan was just like yesterday, give ivan the best chance to improve on his GC position. Paterski put himself in the days breakaway and put up a great fight in his homeland tour! He would eventually be reeled in on the final climb but showed some very strong signs of big improvements heading toward the vuelta.

For the rest of us we just stayed in the bunch and ensured ivan was well looked after. The first 50km were downhill and again this speed really made me suffer, it was a very silly mistake to rock up to a world tour race having not done and speed work for so long and I paid for it big time today. That's ok though, its an easy thing to get back and this race will go a long way toward achieving that so no stress for now. Ratto put us in a perfect position for the first climb and from that moment I don't think I even moved further back than 5th wheel all day until my very un ceremonios explosion as we hit the days final climb. I felt great again on the first 2 climbs and feel like I am pedalling the best I ever have, just lacking the spark of the race rhythm. I don't know what caused my sudden explosion, probably a mix of things, lack of food obviously, lack of racing, and probably just the body not adapted to such a hard day in the heat. One things for sure I have not felt that bad in the final km's of a race for a long long time so I definitely gave myself a far old hammering these past couple of days, still knowing how little work I have done I cannot be disappointed, I simply have to be patient. Anyways the strangest thing was until about 30seconds before I had to put up the white flag I felt awesome so I know my good level is not far away.

Ivan continues to show that he is building up for a big final part of the season and stayed with the best riders on the pordoi. I was I could have been of some assistance again but was unfortunately further back than full back when he needed me today, I will make up for it during the next week. The day in the bunch was a little more social than yesterday so was great to catch up with the aussies. A couple from blanco, garmin and greenedge has given the peleton a good bit of aussie flare which is always nice. Off course a race with wiggo would not be complete without a bit of a discussion about our assault on the leightweight double scull at the 2020 olympics, that always gives us somthing to laugh about and have a little fun thinking about during the duller moments in the race.

Another great thing to see in these first 2 stages has been the columbian team really taking the bull by the horns and trying set up there climber ata puma for a stage win. While they have not got there win they certainly have gained even more respect from the peleton for there hard riding and commitment to ensuring the race is hard so hats off to them. The heat and course has certainly taking the edge of the group so will be interesting to see how all recover for the final 5 days of racing. The circuits are hilly and hard and are certain to make for some very exciting racing.

So our time in italy for this years tour of poland has come to and now we are on the bus to the airport to head of to the real home of the race, that place being krakow poland. I would say I have a test in the first couple of days so will now look to improve my marks throughout the rest of the week.


Srm data
Time 6hrs 10min
Average Heart rate 140
Average power 255
Kcal's burnt 6700
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Poland stage 1

Its been 9 weeks since I pushed the pedals in anger so was great to get back on the race track for stage 1 of tour of poland today. Its a strange feeling not having raced for so long, I bit like coming back from the summer holidays at school! You get to catch up with your peers and any goss you have missed being away from the peleton, realise some things change a little but most things stay the same.

So as the race got underway I was instantly in the hurt box. Not only have I not raced but I have also not done any race simulation behind the car or motor bike so 60kmph on the flat is quite the lung opener. After a nervous nudges into rider which occur when you have not been in the bunch for so long, I slowly found my feet again and fortunately once the climbs started I finally was able to relax and enjoy my job again.

The day was pretty straight forward with a small break going and the collective efforts of teams not represented slowing wound the escapees back in at the start of the final climb. Our cannondale boys were vigilant all day and always up the front so were ready and waiting for the moment to spark into action and contribute to the days stage. This moment came about 15km from the start of the final climb with ratto and paterski stringing out the group with a fearsome tempo on the false flat drag up to the start of the climb. By the time the climb started the race was back together and at this point christiano took over to keep the pedal to the metal on the lower slopes.

The next part of the plan was a master stroke by our team captain Ivan basso as our columbian pocket rocket, sami, let loose and instantly opened a good gap. Eventually others responded and I got a free ride accross to him and once he was caught I did my first acceleration on the front of the group. I dug pretty deep and when I heard nibali was dropping I dug a little deeper and ensured a good selection was made. From there a few attacks went over me and a stale mate occurred with no one wanting to take up the pace and this was the moment basso sent me to the front again to keep everything tight for the final km. This time I just drummed out a nice rhythm, well as comfortable as 190 heart rate can be!! The heart has not pumped that hard for a while!! And waited for the next attacks to come which I knew would signal the end of my day on the front and it would be up to our captain, mr basso himself to fly the flag to the finish. When this came a couple of km before the top of the climb I instantly took a deep breath and figured I would just role in behind one of the chase groups. Unfortunately for me the group was a lot smaller than I expected and I was left to pedal out the final few km all by my lonesome but happy and content in the knowledge I had contributed to the days racing. Its was a little more satisfying considering the long period away from any intensity but also give me a lot more optimism as I build up for the vuelta espania, its nice to have a decent base to build from.

In the end basso would be 5th which is far and away the best result for him this year at this level and if I am confident of where I can get to for the vuelta then I think the book makers might be shortening the cannondale pro cycling team captains odds as he is coming up an absolute treat!

Great day for the boys in green, great to be back racing and working so well as a team, looking forward to the week ahead at the tour of poland.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Views of Le Tour from afar

With Le Tour at the halfway mark I felt it was time to put a few of my observations into a blog. It goes without saying that I watch every single stage with interest, well almost! The only stage I did not witness one bit of action was the TTT. This is bizarre as I was actually in nice with the cannondale camp for the entirety of the stage! I met a great friend of mine Sam Waley whom I had attended high school with and also later rowed in the national team at junior, u23 and elite level. As such we have enjoyed a mutual love for sport and particularly cycling so it was a great opportunity for me to introduce him to the team and give a guided tour of the team bus. Upon arriving at the bus and once I had introduced Sam to the team and given him a tour everyone was keen for a chat. Sponsors, team management, team staff, and off course the countless number of supporters camped around the bus. Before I knew it I was doing a commercial and impromptu photo shoot for Rudy Project and then never one to shy away from a chat got caught up with person after person and before I knew the riders were back at the bus and I had missed the entire race. I then caught up with all my team mates, were quite a battered and bruised lot at that point so I think they were happy to see an understanding face from outside the pressure cooker that is Le Tour and tell me about the difficulties they had all faced in the first few days in Corsica. By the time this was done all the remaining teams were now finished so I had completely missed the entire stage not only as they reced along the streets 50m away but also on the tele. Anyways was great to catch up with all the cannondale clan and show Sam around so if I really need I can buy the DVD of this years race and relive the one stage I will miss from the 2013 tour!

So with that out of the way onto my observations and interpretations of what I have actually seen of this years race. The beauty of cycling is how quickly things can change and that couldn't be evident than this years tour. A this point in the race last year Marcel Kittel had already been at home for a week pondering what might have been but also no doubt fueling the fire for 2013. Sure enough fast forward 12 months and he already has 3 stage wins in the bank, a day in the yellow, green, and white jersey's and is being heralded as the savior for German cycling along with the seemingly peerless TT powerhouse Tony Martin. 

Another team that's enjoyed a change in fortunes this year is Australia's very own Orica Greenedge. 12 months ago and remember matt white being asked if not having won a stage half way through was failure. Matt was quick to point out Matty goss has numerous placings and for a new team to Le Tour it was a good start, indeed it was from a cycling perspective, most teams and riders would take greenedge's results at the 2012 tour anyway of the week. Bring on 2013 and in the first 6days there was real only one team in the race! Orica Greenedge. From day one when they decided to help out the tour organizers by attempting to raise the finish banner a few feet with there team bus to Simon Gerrans taking the teams first ever tour de france stage win, they were always in the headlines. Following that up the following day with a victory so narrow in the TTT that I am sure the edges of 1000's of Australians sofas are completely worn off. Gerro's narrow win was exciting, not for my cannondale pro cycling team as Sagan ended up 2nd! But the TTT was great to see as you know it will have an unquantifiable impact on the atmosphere within the team and also the huge boost in excitement about the sport in Australia. Green Edge have certainly played the aussie underdog tag since entering the peleton and seemingly thrived on this so was great to see an absolutely peerless team effort getting them over the line for the win. Again 12 months has made a world of difference for Orica Greenedge.

The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team made it very clear that defending Peter Sagans Green Jersey was it's number one priority. After 12 stages Peter has a seemingly insurmountable 96 point lead so you could be safe to say everything is going to plan right?? Well no not according to the media that always seem to want to find a negative for what's been a calculated consistent first half of Le Tour by the young Slovak. Sure 12 months ago Peter already had 3 stage wins in the bank so had set a pretty impressive precedent for his first crack at the great French race. With this success comes a big target on your back so of course it's going to be a little more difficult for him this time. Through in a little bad luck with crashes and misshaps that didn't happen last year and pretty easy to all of a sudden have a bag of podiums and a little less throwing the arms in the air. After stage 5 I could see Peter was getting a little fed up with questions about his lack of a stage win even though by this point he had been glowing in green for a few days already. Like the true champion he is he went to his team and asked for a big commitment from his men on stage 7 and they duly delivered. If green edge had stolen the headlines in the first days b the end of stage 7 all the talk was about one team, The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team. To say they took the bull by the horns would be a massive understatement riding a fearsome tempo on the small climbs distancing all the sprinters in the process and after 130km of total sacrifice for the team captain caped in green the stage victory in albi was never in doubt. In fact watching the race on the tele it seemed over 100km from the finish such was the display by the boys in green. Peter and Cannondale had the stage win and the critics finally shut there gobs!

The performance from cannondale seemed to set the tone perfectly for the following stage with Team Sky happy to follow the lead in there favored terrain, the mountains. The methodical performance by Team Sk we have all witnessed countless times over the passed couple of seasons took apart the peleton once again and by days end the race for the yellow jersey was seemingly over. Not only was froomie in yellow, a jersey that has seemed destined to be on his shoulders for the past 12  months but also ritchie porte his own team mates seemed to be the only man capable of mounting any type of challenge to his race lead, therefore effectively they had alliterated there opposition. Like 24hrs before when cannondale had destroyed all of Sagans green jersey challenges on the road to albi, sky dished out the same dose to all of chris froome's challenges for yellow. From my perspective the best part about the performance by both team sky and cannondale was that everybody knew exactly what was happening and nobody could do a thing about it. That is a qualities only the best of the best teams and riders poses as it is a simple display of superior strength and or team work and these are the performances I love to witness, the best showing why they are the best! 

Like with peter, now the climbers are being subject to the press and whoever else with an opinion wanting to find a way to detract from brilliant performance's in mountains. Every expert thinks they know more about a riders performance than the rider himself and his team. I love how they compare times and performances from riders in years passed and of course all in aid of trying to raise some suspicion and intrigue but come on enough is enough,list time to move on. I crunched some numbers myself and read some opinion and figure it's only right the other side of the coin should be observed. Has anyone bothered to consider the technology involved in cycling these days?? Teams these days are all looking for marginal gains wherever possible and it's not just on the training track. Today bikes used in the peleton are like formula 1's, through in added detail on the clothing, food,  and tactics, and across the board these add to great gains for the riders. In my opinion other things to consider include when was this climb performed? At what point in Le Tour? The distance of the climb? What happened in the days preceding the stage? What happened in the stage preceding the particular climbing performance in question? How many strong riders contributed to the speed up the climb and for how long did each hit the wind and give it full gas??? Simply put there are so many variables involved that you are not even close to comparing apples with apples that it's like comparing an apple with a grapefruit! These circumstances that all change on a daily basis in a bike race could not be more diverse. And as far as trying to predict TT power output?? C'mon, these bikes are like missiles now a days. The position of riders on the bike thanks to wind tunnels and tools to analysis the trade off between aerodynamic positioning and power is employed by all professional teams. So that all leads to the fact that simple physics means the faster you go the greater the aerodynamic advantage you gain. So guess what! That also means you can produce relatively less power nowa days at any given weight to produce the same speed or as we are currently seeing greater speeds. I know everybody seems to want to dwell on the doping past of cycling but really, can't we also look to the future and just maby realize like in every other sport in the world athletes continue to improve!! I am sorry but cycling is just another sport and as time goes on and training methodolgy and technology improves riders will get faster and at some point I hope these so called self proclaimed "experts" stop to think about what they are saying about todays current crop of stars and before they go pointing the finger make sure the have exhausted every possible avenue in there research to actually compare apples with apples and only then give an opinion. Accusing somebody of doing something suspicious is the easiest thing for the arm chair expert to do and most difficult thing for an athlete to dis prove. Sure the past has meant we find ourselves in this space at the moment where cycling is an easy whipping boy but please for sake of giving fans a chance to believe again in there cycling hero's refrain from the mud slinging!! instead if you enjoy watching the cycling with so much interest which is obviously the case "experts" you could look at it though some positive eyes and help continue the sport on the path it is working so hard on taking.

That was just a bit of a rant from me but observing the critics in this years tour has really got under my skin. First seeing them try and take the focus away from peter's brilliant performance to gain the jersey everybody knew he was chasing and nobody has been able to do a thing about him mounting such a commanding lead. Half the race is still to come and you would be a brave man to bet against the tourmanator taking more wins in this year tour on the way to Paris. And as for the comments following the first days in the mountains by the self proclaimed "experts", if your not going to compare apples with apples, stop and think about the consequences of the mud your slinging and try an give the sport a chance to move on. 

For me the work toward my goals for the second half of the season began yesterday with a training camp at San Pelligrino. The Cannondale Pro Cyling team sure no how to pick great training locations and this place is no different. We have so many of the famous dolomite climbs right on or doorstep and the hospitality at the Flora Alpina is so good that you never ever wan to leave. Infact every time I have been here I have always extended my stay! I said to Basso today that I love this place before the training is perfect and the food is beyond perfect!! The two things aside from sleeping I basically fill my entire day in with. So for me this place is perfect. Also being a 1900m means it's great altitude for sleeping so nothing is compromised up here. It will be home for the next 10 days so I am pretty excited about that.


Here there and everywhere

The past few weeks have flown by like a blur. I finally awoke from my post giro coma and have got back to my usual hear there and everywhere self. With the second half of my season based around being in top shape for the tour of Spain, I have also had the luxury of enjoying around 4 weeks of what I would describe active recovery!! Sometimes very active but the best part has been no obligations to a training program or regiment.

My rides have strictly been governed but the company and how much i am enjoying my ride. With training partners like Bryan staring, Ivan Basso, Matty lloyd, and william walker I have been spending plenty of time out on the bike but enjoying every second. After the bitter experience I had at the giro I was determined to get that feeling back that when I go to sleep each night I can't wait to wake up and go training the next morning, this has definitely returned with a vengeance! I have thrown myself back into the gym, I like to try and convince myself I still have a little mucho rower about me!! And then climb aboard my cannondale  evo bicycle for an unspecified period of time  with one of my favorite training buddies I have already mentioned. Through in an endless social schedule which has meant no eating at home for, um, I have no idea, but a long time ago, so It's certainly been an enjoyable start to the summer.

A few weeks ago I had the conversation with our head sports director stefano zanatta to discuss my second half to the season. It was decided that I should focus on preparing for a good vuelta espania and put into the practice the harsh but usefull lessons learnt in the giro. I was super duper excited about this as my lead up will comprise more training and less racing and also I always love racing in Spain. My next race therefore will be the tour of Poland, followed by the vuelta Burgos, throw In a couple of 2 and 3 week training camps between now and then and the race around Spain will be upon us. So with that all mapped out it gave me chance for a little trip america before the first training camp in the dolomites.

Each year our major sponsor cannondale holds there annual expo if you like in park city Utah. The Olympic town perched up in the mountains above salt lake city provides the perfect setting for such an event and it was an honor to have the chance to go along this year. Along with my team mate Elia Viviani who was also enjoying some "active recovery time" we made the trek across the Atlantic to help out our major sponsors as much as we could at there major annual event. Our roles where pretty casual, basically just be around the place to chat with whoever wanted to ask questions, test some new products, lead a few casual group rides and basically get involved with the people from with the company from all over the world, even from as far as Australia! All in all when stefano asked me to attend I did not hesitate in jumping at the chance, I knew it was exactly the little adventure I wanted to be apart of.

So while there was limited official engagements every day was literally full gas. This was due to a couple of reasons, firstly the venue of deer valley ski resort is an absolute paradise for biking of every kind, and secondly all the people that were at the expo where as energetic and fanatical about exercise as I am thus creating an environment where you just wanted to be doing something every second of the day. Elia and I threw ourselves right into it. We were up early for breaky at 7am and out on the bike for a quick spin before commonly having a mid morning function to attend. Off to lunch then back on the mtb bike before generally leading a group ride in the afternoons. Once back from the road ride we would squeeze in an extra hr or so until finally it was 8pm and time forma quick shower and off to dinner and the nights festivities. It was not unusual by days end to have racked up 7-8hrs on the bike in spits and spurts but as every second was so enjoyable it literally felt like everyday was simply a very pleasant recovery day. While the road riding was awesome the place is incredible for mountain biking, therefore Elia and my road bikes ended spending alot more time on the racks than our mountain bikes did as we were both addicted. To head out from the bike park at 2500m altitude and gently wind your way up to 3000m in the dense bush land was simply training paradise. Usually this would be seen as a little risky but in reality the trails in deer valley and as smooth as ashfelt and as such the president of cannondale, bob Burbank was the one who actually brought me some MTb shoes which kickstarted my addiction. It was such an honor to get to know Bob, until now I basically only knew he was our boss but never had alot to do with him. It turns out bob is pretty much like me, loves exercising, loves chatting cycling and sport in general, and at the end of the day enjoys catching up with his colleagues for a relaxing de brief on the days events over a long dinner. So surfice to say we got along extremely well and it was great to gain more understanding of an industry that's supports our sport from one of the men in charge of continuing it's development. Often if I was squeezing in a cheeky extra hour on the mountain bike bob would be doing same on two feet running the trails, basically the guy is full gas sport so the perfect man to lead cannondale. It was great to spend so much time with him both on and off the bike!

Elia was a little more in holiday mode and while I chose the Cannondale cross county scalpel bike he went for the more hard core downhill trigger bike. So while I eased my up the hill in the bush he took the chair lift up and bombed down. Probably the sort of contrast you would expect from a sprinter and a climber! I found the best thing about mountain biking was how humbling it can be!! All of a sudden it's like having training wheels on again and the first few days I was riding around like a grandma! People always used to apologize for holding me up, on the contrary, generally the relaxed pace through the bush was my max speed. If I went along with a couple guys with some MTb experience I was on the limit, with pascal weir of Canada and Neil Barlow from Australia I had to resort to my constant talking method to hide my fatigue! Going uphill was ok but turn the front wheel down and I was left in there dust, a great reality check for the work I need to continue to do to improve my skills. So this trip provided the perfect opportunity for that and as the week drew on I was pinching every available moment I could in the bush and by the end my cornering was described by downhill expert mark weir as "railing it" whatever that means but i was Certainly Feeling more confident drifting across the dirt. Importantly when I would get back on the road bike in the afternoon's my handling confidence was also growing so it had been a great exercise.

The expo became for me the most enjoyable active recovery week I have done. Sure we were staying in one of the best places in the world for training but the reason for being there was to support our great sponsor, cannondale.  I knew that the key to enjoying the week and also given as much back to the sponsor as possible was being available for whatever whenever and not getting hung up on any exercise plan. I knew if I worried to much about training then I would go insane so just went with the flow. This gave Elia and I the unique opportunity to spend quality time both on and off the bike giving feedback and asking questions regarding our training and racing bikes and apparel. This is a huge area of interest for me and also for Elia with his constant search for any additional in his sprints against the worlds fastest men. I am from the other extreme and looking for comfort and performance over a long period of time so it seemed we were a great combo in giving feedback on all the product from two very different perspectives in the peleton. We could go for a ride and test this or that, come back I've feedback, then go out and test so thin else. It was simply the best possible research and development opportunity for both Elia and I and cannondale so we all made the most of that. Everything was on hand from bikes to cloaths to anything in between and Elia and I relished the opportunity to give as much feedback on as many different products as possible. While many people had many questions to ask they were all intriguing questions. It often meant taking 20-30minutes to discuss the topic as a pose to usually a quick sort answer and move on. Everyone had time for everyone and at the end of the day we are all chasing the same objective, produce better bikes that will deliver our team more victories and in turn deliver cannondale more sales. 

With such an incredibly energetic fit and healthy group of people in one place it was inevitable that a good time would be had by all. Every conversation I had with anyone of the people from around the world was one of enthusiasm and excitement for there role within the company or interest in something they felt I could give them some info on. There was simply smiles on faces of everybody everywhere and as a result provided the perfect environment for me to enjoy a mid season "working holiday" completely recharging my batteries and in turn I hope provided the amazing people at cannondale a chance to get to know a little more what it's like inside there team. As much fun as I had, it also had me champing at the bit to get stuck into the second half of the season and like all good things the holiday had to come to an end and now it's time to get back to work.