15 December 2008

12-12-2008. FNB Desert Dash. 340km. Windhoek to Swakopmund

A few months ago I was sitting in Switzerland, all innocent and minding my own business when I received a mail confirming my entry to the Desert Dash. Solo. I had no idea about this and with a bit of investigation was able to find out that a certain mad Irishman had something to do with the entry.

 

So on Friday I lined up at the start of the event, completely under prepped and not knowing what I was letting myself in for… I spent as much time as possible trying to persuade people that I was not going to race as I had only just started training again and had no idea what lay ahead of me.

 

So much for that..

As planned I started with the leaders amongst the 211 strong field, but instead of slacking off as planned I clung to Mannie Heyman's wheel and was dragged into the desert at an alarming rate. Unable to offer much help with the pace making I hung on and decided to go until my body decided that it had enough.

 

By the 100km service point I was still with Mr Africa but gulped down a bit too much lasagne so once we started up again it was not long before I was struggling to hold the wheel over the extremely nasty rollers. Before I knew it I was on my own and riding towards the setting sun, trying to regain my breath and enjoying the one or two river crossings along the way.

 

By the mid way mark the night had well and truly set in and the full moon peeked out from behind the clouds every now and then, confusing me, making me think that a car had suddenly crept up on me. Truly amazing moonlight in the middle of the desert!

 

With 140km to go I thought another backup vehicle was about to pass me, but it turned out to be Willie Engelbrecht (riding in a two man relay team) with some serious lighting dripping off his incredibly snazzy MTB. We were able to exchange a few niceties when all of a sudden we hit some thick sand and he disappeared behind me. Later I found out that he'd punctured, but I was not very bothered. Put my head down and found an amazing rhythm (after 200km of MTBing!) and blasted off into the night.

 

On three occasions I thought I saw Mannie's lights off in the distance, but each time it turned out to be a car or my imagination playing games with me.

 

I was not impressed.

 

With 60km to go Willie's team made, Wim, was biting at my heels but thanks to his equally bright lights I could keep an eye on how far behind me he was. That was, until he decided to follow my stealthy example and ride with moon light alone. As I still had my red back light going, he knew exactly where I was, but I thought that he had dropped. Until all of a sudden I caught sight of a dark blur moving past on the opposite side of the road, trying to pass me.

 

Bugger!

 

After some choice words and hard pedalling I was panting, but on his wheel. Where I decided to stay, leaching for the time being. Problem was that 30km from the end Willie and Wim would get back together and keep on riding to the end, while I needed to refuel.

 

Fortunately there was a bit of chaos at the sign in and Marc Bass did a super fast refuel for me so after a few more choice words and hard pedalling I caught up to the pairing and some mad riding at full tilt ensued. Fortunately we were all sharing the work, but then realised that we were hurting ourselves for no reason. Mannie was long gone and there was no one behind us for nearly an hour.

 

From there I was very glad to take it easy till the end, as we cruised through the dark streets of Swakop with an escort (the marshals were still in bed, not expecting us so early) crossing the line at 4h28 a whole 13h28 after leaving Windhoek. 15 minutes behind Mannie and almost 10 hours before the last solo rider.

 

I'm still trying to recover as my body took a decent beating, but I am really impressed with how the legs handled it all. Evidently I have not lost all that much form from the last season.

 

What a great event. Certainly worth the trip up for the many South Africans who came up to join us.

Thanks Aiden and co. Job well done (just please change the last confusing loop through Swakop)! Pics to follow.

05 December 2008

more reading

 
Another very interesting read. Now we just need a few more people who think like Suzanne!

03 December 2008

Another worthy read

Cyclingfansanonymous is proving to be the undisputed leader in cycling journalism! Of course Pez and Cyclismag rock, but CFA just gets down to the nitty gritty like no one else.
 
Here is another amazing piece well worth a read
 

02 December 2008

Quote of the month (or of the last 6 months)

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.    Anonymous

10 November 2008

All Africa Champs Road Race, Casablanca, Morocco 9 November 2008

The African Cycling Champs Road Race was held on a reasonably flat 11km circuit along the coast where the men had to complete thirteen laps to make a total of 143km. There were 70 starters from 13 different African nations making it one of the best attended champs in its short history.
 
At around the half way mark a group of 15 riders managed to break away from the peloton and soon enough we had a sizable lead on the chasers. With just less than four laps to go the attacking started from the front group and after a slight lull in the attacking a Moroccan rider went solo and built up a sizable gap to the chasers. Somehow I didn't even realise that the guy had gone down the road. This was the same guy who stuck his tongue out at me (it was more his look than his tongue that got to me) and spat at South African Jay Thomson, so lets just say there was no love lost towards this dude.
 
With seven kilometres remaining in the race I broke away with  an Algerian rider started chasing the lone leader, even though I did not actually realise that he existed at this point. Going over the only two short climbs in the race I dropped the Algerian and it was only at this point that I saw the lone leader and realised that I was only in second position.
 
Having been out on his own for almost 30 kilometres he was rather buggered and I moved in on him quickly, but not quickly enough....
 
Coming into the final bend, with less than five hundred meters to go I was still behind him and even though I was already going flat out I had to dig even deeper and force some kind of sprint if I wanted any chance of catching him.
 
Mr  Morocco was in the left most lane of a four lane road, taking the shortest route to the line. As he saw me coming up on his right he started swinging right across the road to block my way.
 
With the African Title on the line this was one time that I was not going to back down and the two of us made contact as I came past with virtually no place to spare on my right hand side. I don't think that he was expecting this reaction to his dirty tricks and as a result he lost control and crashed a mere fifty meters from the line as I struggled to keep my bike upright and cross the line without any hint of a victory salute.
 
Had the outcome been any different and had he been of any other nationality he would have been DQ'ed.
 
I had come to Morocco to win the Gold in the time trial but I was only able to take the bronze medal. So making up for that disappointment in this way is fantastic, especially as the road title is more valuable. I would rank this as my second most important victory after winning the 1.2 GP Cristal Energie in France, but back home this one will mean a whole lot more!
 
Although I have still not heard from any managers, the response from friends and family has been amazing so far! My Facebook is absolutely overflowing and I am really humbled by the experience!
 
Thank you everyone! Especially Splashworks, First Cut and Rosewall Agencies; the three companies that made this trip a reality!
 
Now the bike is in the bag and it's going to stay there for three weeks! It's about time I had a real holiday!

01 October 2008

Michael Barry on Svein Tuft

This article is worth a read
 
 
I really enjoy the way Michael Barry writes, and since seeing Svein for the first time at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne 2006 I have been intruiged by the man. Like everyone else, I had not expected him to do so well at the recent World Champs TT. I did however notice how well he was going during the course recon the day before the race so in hindsight I can saw I noticed something.
Must still say though, Respect for that silver!

26 September 2008

World Champs Time Trial Race Report, Elite Men, Varese 25.09.2008

Alright
That didn't go according to plan...
 
I have a hand full of valid excuses lined up, but at the end of the day I gave it what I had yesterday and came home empty handed. I was disappointed with my final position, but even more so with the way I felt during the ride. Going over the top of rollers I never felt able to get the right gear rolling to take advantage of the downhills.
 
On a more positive note that does mean that I can do better and that yesterday was not my best day on the bike (who's surprised, first TT in a year... kind of to be expected).
 
My big goal of not being passed was sadly smashed to smithereens about three kilometers from the line when Janez zoomed past me at what seemed like the speed of light. Being overtaken by someone who has worn the Gold Jersey at the Vuelta Espania is not something to be embarrassed about, but its still never a fun feeling. It just proves what you already know, you aint going fast enough..
 
So in the end I finished 51st out of 57, way down from my so called 'ranking' of 32nd.
 
As I finished the race I was stopped by a very friendly and very pregnant lady who turned out to be Hedwig Kröner from Cyclingnews.com
Shocked as I was, I nearly fell off my bike... I was rude enough to let all the questioning be one sided but never the less was very pleased to be interviewed. Even if I felt my performance on the day did not warrant it (had I mentioned my 132 Europe Tour points it might have been a different matter..).
 
So this morning I awoke to this nice little surprise http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=news/2008/sep08/sep26news2
 
Thanks Hedwig! I really appreciate that and hope to see you at many more races in the future!
 
Of course Mariano Botta (La Rgione Ticino) and Pierre Carrey were also there, so I felt like quite the celebrity talking to Journo's after the race. Now I just have to get my TTing to correspond with the big talk :)
 
Meanwhile back at the ranch Bert Grabsch took the win 5minutes 39 faster than me. Svein Tuft the tough Canadian took a well deserved (but surprising) second place and Dave Z got the Bronze. My man Janez nabbed eighth.

25 September 2008

World Champs Time Trial, Elite Men, Varese 25.09.2008

So, Today is the day...
I would like to say that the weather is 'nice' but after using that word to death in my last post I think I'll refrain from that this time and instead say that the weather is fabulous right now. Sun is shining and although it is chilly thanks to the new snow on the nearby mountains it will be perfect by the time I roll off the start ramp at 13h52.
 
I am nr 32 of 58 riders, which means that there are 26 riders starting in front of me and 31, everyone at 2 minute intervals. I'll take my mid pack ranking as a compliment, thank you very much! Fredrik Ericsson from Sweden is my carrot while I will have little Felix Cardenas of Barloworld/Colombia starting behind me and Janez Brajkovic Astana/Slovenia behind him . That simplifies my first goal of not being passed by anyone during the race, unlike last year...
 
Final preperation is just about to kick off with a nice bowl of pasta at 9am. This should be fun!
 
Hold thimbs

13 September 2008

Pics

This is Lago di Varese, and the bike that will be taking me around it on 25 September.
 
One or two minor adjustments and the bike will be ready.          Will I though?

The long wait

Trofeo Morucci was my last race for a while as there is a gaping hole of 18 days without racing between it and the World TimeTrial Champs. Gaps in racing are fine when the form is off or when rest is needed, but when you're flying (and bored) and there are no races around to do, then it is just plain irritating.
On the bright side I do have a lot of time to play around on the TT bike and get myself ready for the sixty minute suffer fest. I'd still rather be racing though...
 
During the week we took a drive across the border to go and check out the Varese TT course. A mere 60km from here, it still takes an hour in the car thanks to the small roads one has to take. Much better by bike ;)
 
As for the course. I made the mistake of giving Colombo the map and not paying enough attention myself (not that it would have really helped) so we got lost a few times during the first few km's and completely left out the last 5km as we had run out of time and Davide was waiting for us back at the car. We did however get to see the main descent, the long loop around the lake and the main drag/climb back into town.
 
What do I think?
 
I think its going to hurt.
Then again, I didn't really need a degree in rocket science to figure that out.
 
The course is quite nice. I think that TV viewers should enjoy it as the course is nice and open and there are some nice views, especially along the lake. There are a few nice bumps along the way that'll get the blood flowing and a few corners on the descent that will need some more detailed inspection but in general the roads are quite big and open. Flowing is a nice word to describe it. The last 10km will really really hurt though. After 35km of being on the rivet the route climbs up a wide road winding ever so slightly. Nothing steep, but rather long. That's where the big time differences will appear.
After last years embarrassing ride I am heading in this year without too many expectations. Just that I have to reduce that huuuge 6minute deficit that I was left with last year.

09 September 2008

47th Trofeo Salvatore Morucci 07.09.2008

This weekend we only had to do a 650km drive in order to get to San Martino al Cimino, just north of Rome, for the relatively short 136km Trofeo Morucci. Last years race was a fun affair where I ended up being dropped on the steep inclines heading towards the line, finishing sixth in my last road race of my Euro season. With better form and more motivation this time round I was keen on making amends.
Hanging around the start area it became obvious that the turnout was rather disapointing and that there were only four teams that were seemed really threatening. With just about the whole Russian National team, Aran/Cantina-Tollo's Fabio Taborre and Anton Sintsov of Calzaturieri Montegranaro having recently won big races it would never be a walk in the park, even if there were just 90 starters. Aussie, Pat Shaw also pitched up for the fun so at least I got a few words of English in for a change!
 
Like last year a break got away pretty quickly and I found myself up front with Konrad and 15 others, all working together harmoniously (amazing). Half way into the race we hit the first of three climbs, this one also going past the finish line and up some pretty nasty bits with cobbles and several walls. Our group started splintering slowly but surely and by the time we got to the top I found myself in front in a group of four. From there on it was pretty straight forward. Ride hard, force the pace on the second long climb, outfox Taborre to win the KOM and get to the base of the final 3km climb.
 
Long before we reached the final climb it became obvious that the fourth rider was just hanging on for dear life. Taborre seemed fresh as a daisy and I could not tell how the Russian, Kochetkov, was feeling (how unusual). As we hit the climb Kochetkov went and I was on his wheel. Taborre jumped next and I was there again pretty quickly. Almost immediately he went again and this time Kochetkov was dislodged (the other guy was long gone by then). I pushed the pace to distance the Russian but worked a bit to hard as we were on a wall and as I told Taborre to go through he jumped and immediately got a gap.
Try as I might there was no closing that gap, so all I could do was go as hard as possible for the last kilometer and sprint up the brutally steep finish to grab a very nice second place.
 
This gives me my sixth result in the top five out of my last ten races. Not too shabby me thinks.
 
Next up... Worlds TT... And now I have to make sure that I don't make a fool of myself like I did last year...

04 September 2008

Brief update

After going AWOL on my blog for a while I decided it was about time to peek back in and get some updates posted. There was a brief upset with the link from DC.com to the blog but thanks to Carinus that was quickly put right again.
As for actual news from my side, after a lot of fabulous one day races in August I ended up getting sick right before Giro Valle d'Aosta, my seasons goal... I just had a nasty cold and cough. But with all of my power gone and only 36 hours before the start we made the decision to give Lukas my spot and I took a step back. Irritating to say the least but there was nothing else to do.
Needless to say I was healthy pretty soon so Konrad and I set about putting in some good riding to get over the pain of being left behind and making hay while the sun shines!
 
Now the hay making is over as the bad Cape Town weather has spread to this part of the world and we have a wet week ahead of us.
 
That's broken up by a little trip to Rome for Trofeo Morucci on Sunday. Got sixth last year and loved the course. Interesting times!

08 August 2008

GP Folignano 05.08.08

After a lekker rest day which certain people spent by the swimming pool, turning into a lovely shade of robot red we moved on north towards Folignano. My favorite race of the season.
I have a slight love affair with Folignano because it is the only race that I have done all four year since I have been with FidiBC and the first time I did it I had my backside handed to me on a plate. So badly in fact that I was amused by it and the next year I came back and won the KOM as well as most aggressive rider. Last year I had another good race and ended up coming fourth for my second best result of the year. This meant that I lined up this year with high expectations!

The First 80km are on five flat circuits followed by 80 km over six and a half laps with two climbs on it. The first one 4km averaging 4.5% and the second one 2km and averaging 7%.

I managed to behave myself during the flat laps and remained hidden in the bunch soft pedaling most of the way, even though the average must have been close on 50km/h. The team did a decent job keeping an eye on things but Stevie B really put it all out there and stepped up a level on this trip! As soon as we hit the climbs I got nervous and moved to the front.
By the time we hit the second climb (still first lap) I was off the front and going 'bos'. Fabio Ursi (first time that I have raced with our 'crosser', 7th at the last u23 world cyclocross champs) jumped across to me with some others and we made a half respectable attempt of getting away for a while. Unfortunately that did not last long but I was off the front again and soon was going well with another buddy, Simon Clarke from SouthAustralia.com

We were going well but I was spending way to much energy and even miscounted the laps and started attacking way to early which only brought on the threatening cramps even more. From there onwards it was a uphill battle, against the cramps, the climbs, the heat and my own stupidity. Coming to the bottom of the last climb, only 4km to go to the top we were in a group of 8 riders. I was cramping and could only watch as some attacks went on a kick in the climb. After that Matteo passed me a 1500ml bottle that I used up in its entirety within 10 seconds.
I was able to recover slightly as no one wanted to chase the lone rider who had gone off the front. Coming into the final KM I put in an attack or two but got nowhere as I had long wasted the energy that I so desperately needed then. In the last 300meters Simon took the lead and was starting a perfect lead out/sprint/attack until his chain fell off and I found myself in front with 200 meters to go. I had no choice to punch it but was passed by three riders before the line so came home a really disappointing fifth. One place off last years result.

At least I know that my form is good.. Next time I'll just have to use my head a bit more!

Cigno Pics

Scheming that the recently installed white Hudz did their job!

Pretending to sound intelligent but the soundsystem in the background was so loud I could barely hear myself thinking, nevermind the questions.

First and second did not seem very impressed with things... I heard talk of tempers flaring in the final sprint but who knows!?

Some of the fans that were hanging about. Always impressive how people come streaming out of every nook and cranny come race time.

Cigno Pics

830km, over 35 degrees and over 11 hours... Brings out some strange behaviour.

Steven British in a still 'harmless' mode.

Good book + umcomfy seat = good weirdness!

Refreshment! Perfect place for skinny dipping, just a pity that we only had team mates about at the time...

GP Cigno 03.08.08

Last weekend we traveled sooooouth for the start of our August racing. Which means several things:

- Racing in central and southern Italy
- Loooong car trips and getting home in the wee hours of the morning
- Infernal temperatures
- Insane courses and even crazier riders
- Traffic jams from... well.. Italy..
and of course
- Good old Italian cooking from the south!

We set off on our journey to a part of Italy called Molise, never been there before, and to tell the truth, did not even know there was such a place.. Took us well over 11 hours to drive 830km, almost all of which was on highways (thanks Italian holiday makers). But once we got there we were rewarded by a huge hotel on top of a hill with... a swimming pool (as common as a flowing river in Namibia)!

Pretending to ignore the luxuries we set about the race the next day. A race profile bearing scary similarities with a porcupines back is what greeted us and everyone was rather tense before the start. Just cause I do well on tough courses doesn't mean that I suffer any less than everyone else...

The start was insane as some morons went all out on the first climbs which sent me right to the back of what was left of the already strung out field. Cold bottles turned warm in moments and boiling in minutes as the sun baked down at up to 42 degrees along the way. No trees or shade in sight! I felt terrible so hid as best as I could, not that there is much hiding on a berg!
But in the end that was my saving grace! Coming into the final 30km I was fresher than most and put in a solo move to try and catch the 5 remnants of an earlier break. After about 5km on my own I realized that would not work out so waited for the group behind me and slot into third wheel as some guys upped the pace for their leaders as we headed up the 20km climb/drag towards the finish.
I started cramping slightly so tried to preserve even more energy and once the attacks started coming I just followed at my own pace, letting gaps open up and then closing them on my own time. With about 7km to go two of the favorites (Ponzi '07 Italian u23 Champ and Malori '08 Euro u 23 TT Champ) did something off the front that was way to fast for me to even consider following. Being the lazy bastard on the day I instantly dropped off but clawed my way back on as they slowed down. Catching them with a bit of speed I put in a kick and went straight past, expecting to see a beehive of activity behind me.

Looking back I saw only a lonely Kazakh on my wheel. The two of us caught up to two riders from the break and ground our way on up the drag. Somewhere along the way the Kazakh and one other guy flopped off the back but I was to busy to even notice, only realising once they were 100meters back. From there I just kept on going, not believing what was happening and was even able to sprint the wheel sucker at the end to take a very nice third place in a really hard but rewarding day!

31 July 2008

Fabulously sunny days!

The sun is shining,
the legs are ticking over like a swiss watch
and dopers are being caught left right and centre...
 
What more could I possibly ask for?
 
Well.. I could ask for more, but I'm not going to go into that now am I ;)
 
Just a big shout out to my man Carini! The news about your positive test made my day, my week and even my month! Just a pity you finished behind me on the weekend, so I can't come and claim some prize money.

27 July 2008

GP Inda 1.2 Caravate 175km 27.07.2008

I really liked the GP Inda last year, but as I had 3 team mates in the break I had to cover the bunch all day long. This year I wanted to make sure that did not happen again. After all, I love attacking, and I do well when I enjoy myself... Which means that I do well when I attack. At least that's what I tell myself!

A few kilometers into the race I went away with one rider for a while but we were brought back soon enough. After a flurry of attacks I got into another move that eventually swelled to 33 riders and included team mate Mountain Goat Matteo and two of my Aussie buddies. With the winding course the peloton would always have a hard time chasing so before long we had a gap of 3 minutes on the field.
With one and a half of the four and a half figure of eight laps to go Jaro somehow managed to get away from the peloton and crossed over to us in a moment when we had little cohesion. He came up to me in the bunch, asked how I felt and then asked if I would work for him today. I glanced over at him and told him that I was entirely at his disposal! After last week there was NO doubt about that!

Right after that I followed an attack and got away with about 8 riders and without Jaro. Oh no! But... before long he suddenly pitched up with a couple of other riders. With about 35km to go I attacked before the second last biggish climb and went away with one other rider. We immediately opened up a nice gap and were flying along nicely when a moto came up to us and said that a team mate was following us, on his own. I thought it was the other guys team mate but looked back to see... Jaro!

I could not believe it! Immediately I sat on and waited for Jaro to cross. As he got to us I put my head down and went, driving with all I had. After all, I knew that I didn't need energy for the final, I was working for Jaro today! All along I could not stop thinking how incredible this was. Merely 8 days later and here I was repaying the favour that he did for me last week!
In the last 25km I put in as much work as I possibly could and relieving Jaro of his turns as soon as possible, letting him be as fresh as possible for the end. Of course he still worked too much, but at least I tried! With 10km to go we started discussing tactics and I made sure that he only did one short pull before the final climb.

Eventually on the last climb of the day I put in an attack but was quickly caught and continued setting a steady tempo. Jaro waited nicely and then went hard within sight of the top. From there on it was a Fantastic final 5km to the line, sitting on the wheel of the Pagnoncelli rider. I put in a fake sprint just to please the crowds at the end, but with 100meters to go already sat up and celebrated like mad!

What a day! What a day!!!


26 July 2008

GP Cristal Energie 19.07.2008

Here is a little something from last weekend. Otherwise better known as proof that it actually happened.
 
Gooi'ing that Namlish sign, right there!
 

Randomness

So it turns out that I am weaker than Jaro's mom and we have to fly her in for tomorrows race to take my place. 
While making our famous panini's (jam rolls for race food) I could not open the jar of very jummy Strawberry jam that Jaro's mother made.
So now that I can't open the jars that little Polish mothers close I'll have to behave myself a bit better.
 
Which means that if Mrs Marycz doenst get here in time and they are forced to let me start the GP Inda (1.2, 170km), that I'll have to prove my worth. Should be fun!
 
Just wanted to say a BIG thank you to everyone who contacted me after last weekends little excusion! I never expected to hear from so many people and really appreciated it.

20 July 2008

I did what!?

Yesterday we did a 200km 1.2 race in Central France. I headed off, always keen to race in France but without any high expectations, we were racing Agritubel and a bunch of Conti teams after all, not to mention the 9+ hour drive the previous day and the less than ideal accomodation.
What a shocker....
I went in the first break after 4km, we were caught by another break and were 30 off the front. No harmony so off I went again with 10 others. Mid race we were caught again to form 30 riders off the front. No harmony once more so off I went with 4 others, taking ALL of the KOM points along the way. 40km from the end 6 riders caught us and Jaro and I formed part of the 11 man break. Once again no harmony so I put in a silly little attack which was brought back quickly. Jaro countered it and I found myself on the wheel of a AG2R (amateur team) rider who jumped after Jaro. I followed him and was about to drop off his wheel when I noticed that no one was chasing us.
We bridged across to Jaro and off we went. 25km from the finish Jaro asked me if I wanted to win, to which I responded YESSSS (of course!). End of discussions. From there on Jaro took monster turns and I could soft wheel my turns. 15km from the end we started attacking the Frenchie and it was not long before a move of mine stuck. Now I had the small problem that I had to TT to the line on my own, into a headwind at times and over a million little rollers. My gap initially increased but then slowly started shrinking, just as my energy started hitting negative figures..
The race ends with a 1.2km climb (apparently up to 7%)and then 300meters flat to the line. It felt as if I was standing still while going up there. I could not believe that the Frenchie (with Jaro sitting comfy on his wheel) did not catch me. Once I crested the top of the hill and had the line in sight I still could not believe that I was about to win the race... But seeing several motorbikes behind me let me know that I still had a reasonable gap.
 
I crossed the line giving the Namlish sign, but an absolutely dead man. Nothing left to give. Just over 20 second back Jaro came in behind the Frenchie, but he was to busy celebrating my win to really sprint for second place himself.
 
Now that is what you call a team mate!
 
Pics and more coming soon.

17 July 2008

Training

So while racing is ticking along (it's improving, really! even though the last post might not sound like it) so is the training.
Yesterday Davide escorted 9 of us to go and do the 3 passes loop. Let's just say that they are slightly bigger than the 4 passes that we used to ride around Stellenbosch. The day started off by driving the 30km to Biasca before jumping on our bikes and riding up the valley towards San Gottardo, Furka and eventually Nuffenen Pass. The passes are all over 10km but it also takes a lot of climbing just to get to the base of the first one. And just cause that is not hard enough, the gradient gets steeper per pass. So by the time you get to Nuffenen you are not only buggered, but you have the steepest climb in front of you.
 
No wonder it took me just over an hour to do the 13km climb.. A cadence of 50 was a rather normal sight, even though I was in my 39*25 most of the time. And I was the second guy up the climb, so not as if I was the only person crawling up there..
 
Muuuuch further back down the hill Daniele Colombo was fighting gravity and a bet he had made with Matteo the Mountain Goat in the morning. A pizza and a beer for everyone in the team was online after all, all Colo had to do was ride all three passes under his own steam and without ever stopping. Rumour has it that Matteo will be slightly out of pocket soon ;)
 
In the end the ride ended up being 6h30 and about 170km for one fun day in the saddle.

Medio Brenta

So the race went as expected. I suffered. Problem was that I suffered a bit much AND I was in the break of the day when we hit the 12km climb and I faded like a gelato in the sun...
I kept on going, eventually even being passed by the broom wagon, but I was not bothered. Got in a great training ride with a lot of climbing and eventually rolled into the finish to find the rest of the team all changed and waiting for me so that we could leave for home.
Matteo, Jaro and Konrad came home in the second bunch so the day was not too great for us, but not a failure either.
 
Towards the end of my training ride I noticed that my lower back started hurting and my left legs seemed to be working at less than 100% which is slightly concerning. Now I have to figure out what has brought this about.. hmmm..

11 July 2008

GP Jura

So last weekend we had the 180km GP Jura and I was not all that keen on lining up for the suffer fest that was lying ahead of me. Legs felt like lead in the week before so I was not to positive.
In the end things actually went a lot better than expected. I was active and going down the road way more than expected helping out Matteo and Konrad who were obviously feeling better than I was. I was shelled on the second last BIG climb but managed to sneak my way back to the front and into a few more moves before we headed up the last big climb (big implying long, about 8km, there were short and steep ones left on the finishing circuit). As we started it my legs became solid with cramps and I nearly came to a complete stop. So that was it for me for the day. A nice 150km training ride as I just cruised to the circuit and climbed off, happier than I had expected to be.
 
Now we have had another weird week of training. Big plans, not really coming together, and really tired all the time. And Sunday is the next big appointment. The 1.2 Medio Brenta in Italy, only my fourth Italian race of the season. Should be better than Jura, so now rest up and let's see.

04 July 2008

Coffee rides!

As today was a easy day before a race we just went out and did a nice coffee ride.
Here's a look at Matteo's sunglasses with Marco, myself and Konrad in the reflection.
 
I am betting on the little mountain goat (Matteo) and Konrad on doing something tomorrow. Let's see...

Am I alive?

Well, of course I am alive. Just doesn't mean that I have been updating my blog of late.
 
See what happened is that I suddenly hit a HUGE hole in the middle of my season and was left without any races. Now sitting in Europe, in the back of a junkyard (I should post some pics) is hard at the best of times. But when you suddenly find that you can not do what you came here to do... then all motivation kind of drifts away.. And with that any desire to write Ride Mag Diary's (got it in at the last minute, later than ever before...) or update a blog.
 
Now things are back on track though! I have my first race in over a month coming up within 13 hours and although the form is not top notch, it should be a fun venture in the Jura mountains in Western Switzerland.
 
After that I plan on updating things a bit more regularly. Keep your fingers crossed ;)
 

07 June 2008

Colli

Once again I am running behind with my updates. No excuses, just me being lazy again..
 
Since the two races last week (updates coming soon) I have had a very nice 'easy week'. Every once in a while an entire week taken easy does absolute wonders! Now we will just have to wait and see if I am nice and fresh tomorrow or if I am too fresh and the legs dont want to turn over.
The reason being that at 11.30 tomorrow we start the 'GP Colli Briantei' a 1.2 ranked race over 172km starting near Monza in Italy. It's up and down all day so should suit Jaro, Konrad and myself.
 
We'll know soon enough!

31 May 2008

Here we go

We are busy crossing over into Italy as I write this. Coppa della Pace
and DeGasperi, two tough as nails 1.2 ranked races await us the next
two days. Last year I thoroughly enjoyed both events so am rather keen
to see how things pan out this year. Now that I have finally set
up my phone, updating will also be easier. More news soon, but first
let me get to Rimini and the beach.

23 May 2008

Quote of the Month

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  Theodore Roosevelt

18 May 2008

GP Cham 18 May 2008

Early this morning we headed north, under threatening clouds, to Central Switzerland for the GP Cham. A 158km race over 17 laps and a few nasty inclines along the way. I had raced in Cham in 2006, finishing at the back of the small front pack in soggy conditions, so set out with the desire to improve on my previous result.
 
Although that is always the plan I was not so sure about myself. It's been nearly a month since my last race, where I crashed in France and got my leg all out of joint. Something that is still bugging me now...
I had reason to be chirpy though as I had some supporters along the route. SwissVan from www.thehubsa.co.za lives in the vicinity of Cham and came over with his better half to watch the race, giving me the rare but ever so valuable opportunity to speak some English again and see some friendly faces.
 
As for the racing...
Typical Swiss National race, started out faster than the world champs as the first three laps were done at full tilt. I thought that I might just die along the way but started to feel better about myself when I realised that everyone was feeling the way I was (then why do they start so fast...?). Fortunately my legs warmed up nicely after a while and I moved forwards in the bunch to start following moves and going over the big climb near the front as often as possible. Somewhere around here I lost count of the laps and everything turns into a blur. I just know that Konrad, Matteo and I were doing quite a bit of work covering the moves and things were looking alright.
With around about six laps to go I followed Nazareno Rossi (pro for Diquigiovanni, team of Gilberto Simoni) as he attacked on the climb and we quickly made it across to the small break that had formed ahead. Ben was present in the front and a lap later Matteo joined us, only to see Ben disappear off the back shortly afterwards. A while later I looked back and was surprised to see that the break had split again and eventually twelve riders were left in front. Matteo and I still hanging in there as the threatening clouds finally opened up to make it a 'normal day in Switzerland'.
With two laps to go I started attacking on all the climbs but my legs were cramping in places that I didn't know could cramp (thanks to the crash in France), with even my foot curling up in my shoe every time I attacked... Obviously I didn't really get far, but at least the bunch was strung out a bit.
On the last lap and the last real incline of the day (short but it came right after a 90degree turn on a tiny road and with cross winds, so it was nasty) I gave it one last shot and went with all that I had left. I really thought that my foot was going to double over in the shoe from cramps but somehow kept going and by the time I looked back there were only two guys left. Rather dumbfounded by the sight I caught their slip as they came past and we headed for the finish.
I put in one more attack but it was a measly effort and only resulted in me having to lead out the sprint. Something that I didn't really mind as I was too knackered to really do much. Which meant that I crossed the line in third place, but still pleased with my efforts for the day. Twenty seconds later Matteo came in with the remnants of the break and took ninth. Konrad was another minute back in thirteenth. Not too shabby a result for the day.
 
Pics coming soon.

13 May 2008

Quiet time

Things have been rather quiet on my side as there is a big gap in our calendar right now. I have one Swiss National race coming up on the weekend then three 1.2. ranked International races in Italy on 1, 2 and 8 June. Other than that I have to wait until July before some serious racing kicks off again.
Initially I was rather irritated about this big gap, especially as I had some decent form and wanted to do something with it. After a while I have managed to turn things around though and am now pretty glad that I can take this break from racing and get ready for the second half of the year. After all, once things get serious in July I will need the energy!
 
Now I just have to find somewhere to escape to in order to do a little training camp. Preferably on my own or with someone who speaks English :)

01 May 2008

Back up and Riding

After seeing Peppo and getting my left leg pinched, pulled and squeezed things are suddenly looking up again.
I went out for my first ride in a week yesterday and even though it was only an easy one hour spin I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way. Just could not stop smiling!
Unfortunately I will have to admit that everything is not 100% just yet. But it was definitely a huge step in the right direction.
 
Now I'm busy suiting up for my first decent ride. Unlike yesterday the sun is out again and everything is pointing towards it being a fabulous day!
Bring it on!

26 April 2008

Lovely leg...

Today I am spending another day holed up in the team house after it became blatantly evident that my leg is a bigger problem that initially expected. Since the crash on the first day of Tour du Loire et Cher my left leg has been really hurting me and pulling me out of joint completely.
I initially thought that I had sprained my knee but now am not sure at all. We had a physio here the other day and he did some funky things to my leg. It seemed to help, but only for about 24 hours. Now the legs feel exactly the same way it did five days ago. Which is not a good thing.
Just have to hold on until Monday so that I can go and see Peppo the Chiro in Italy.

Does this also give me an excuse as to why I did not feel as strong as I expected at the Tour? Hmmm...

24 April 2008

Tour du Loire et Cher Stage 5, 95km, Blois





A bit late with this update, but better late than never.
The last stage was a 7.6km loop through Blois that we had to do 12 times. Although some sections of road were very bumpy it was otherwise a lovely circuit. Especially for spectators. Cris crossing the river Loire on a lovely old bridge, through town and up a nasty little hill. Made nasty more by the speed we were going rather than the gradient.
As could be expected the race started as if the devil was chasing us! Balls to the wall! Coming over the bridge for the second time and about to go up the hill for the first time we swooped around a traffic circle and someone went straight into some road furniture (in this case small poles 50cm from the pavement, who knows what their actual function is!?).
Now seeing little poles in an unexpected position is not nice at the best of times. But while traveling at over 50km/h it is slightly hair raising. So was the fact that I was flying over bikes and rolling on the floor before I actually realised what had happened.
Fortunately all was well and I was up and chasing back on soon enough. Were it not for the long convoy of team cars I would have never made it back on again...
After that it was hang in there and pretend to recover a bit while thinking of attacking. Of course Jaro was one step ahead of me and went away with a rider from team Krolstone. This turned out to be a good thing as they did an amazing job, staying ahead of the pack for about 5 laps!
Once they were back in the bunch teams were lining things up for the evident sprint, so I decided to try it out myself. Alain tried to get me lined up but coming onto the bridge for the last time I was swarmed by riders on either side. Shows what a great sprinter I am..
After that it was a quick Greek shower, hop into the cars and the 850km drive home. Getting there after 1AM, fortunately with no incidents along the way.

19 April 2008

Tour du Loire et Cher Stage 4, 192km

Another long day in the saddle with a lot of wind but barely any climbing. The weather looked promising and it only ever drizzled on us a few times, although we did get horribly dirty on the wet roads. Not to mention our back wheels constantly wanting to slide out from beneath us in the corners...
Racing started rather quickly as usual and the group split up a few times in the slight gutters. After about 50km Jaro went in a solo break, to be joined by three others after a while. This turned out to be a great move as not to long afterwards we turned and the side wind hit us again. GLS and co put things straight in the gutter and Alain and I were left just short of the 15 riders in front. Fortunately for us the few riders with us were all keen on working so we got on pretty quickly. As did everyone else after things eventually slowed down.
A few clicks later and we were put back into the gutter. Alain, Jaro and I were situated perfectly right behind the three teams that were doing the work but a sudden corner and a near crash was enough to kill us off as we saw 15 riders go off down the road again. Once again we were left in a small group keen on working and closed the gap after a big effort, to once again have half the bunch catch us a while later.
I tried to break away quite a lot after that but was chased down every single time by the Danes in blue (GLS). A bit later a group of 7 got off the front and we were left in the bunch. Five final laps went by pretty quickly as all of a sudden we realized that the break would not be caught any more (some managers miscalculated that one). I did my best to help Alain in the final but it was Jaro who took him into the final corner at full blast so at least we walked away with a second place in the bunch kick.
 
The stage finished at around 18h00 which is interesting so we are about to go for a late dinner. Tomorrows stage is expected to be really difficult as it is only 95km, so should be really fast.

18 April 2008

Tour du Loire et Cher Stage 3, 175km

This was the stage that I did well in last year and moved me up to
tenth on GC so I was hoping for a repeat. This meant being awake at
all times and staying in front so as not to be caught out in the
gutter. Of which there would be a lot.

I tried to sprint for some KOM points after 5km which seemed really
suicidal as getting there was incredibly nerve wracking. I managed to
pick up one measly point but was still rather pleased that I had
managed to be there at all.

After that the real racing started and after the first gutter section
I was glad to see that Alain and Jaro had made it as well. Colo was
just off the back but a reduction in pace later on let everyone get
back on again.

After about 55km Jaro and I were mid group as we started a hill. Both
of us suddenly realized something was happening and quickly tried to
move up. As we hit the top of the hill and the wind hit from the side
Jaro and I reached Alain in about 30th position. Then the gutter hit
and we chased like morons, only to have two Frenchies leave gaps in
front of us. This left us in front of the second group chasing our
lungs out. Nothing to be done though, the twenty odd riders in front
were never to be seen again, no matter how hard we chased. And chase
we did! Oh my word!

I could write another two pages about that experience but would prefer
not to be reminded right now…

Shocker of the day: Us in the gutter…

The only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope is how strong we were,
especially Jaro! Then again, that only reminds us of what could have
been…

17 April 2008

Part two

Alain managed fifth in the stage. Really impressive considering how far back he was at the last corner, 400 meters to go. Both of us were not suicidal in the final kilometers so I think we can both be glad to be safe rather than sorry!
I managed 19th in the gallop, which must be one of my best results in a sprint like this in Europe. Of course there were so many crashes so I wont make to much of a big thing out of it. This means that Alain moves up to 11th and I sneak into 14th on GC. Top thirty have the same time though so we will have to wait until the hills come before things really get interesting! The important thing is that Davide moves up to 8th from 20th in the convoy. That makes life so much easier!
 
To end it off, shocker of the day: As we came into a little French village at full tilt, swooping around a corner we came across a very old lady busy crossing the road. A motor biker, there to clear the road had stopped and virtually threw her walker onto the sidewalk and moved her as fast as he possibly could, imminent disaster waiting just waiting to happen. Fortunately everyone in the group saw her and avoided hitting her even though she was on the inside of a left hand bend ie. the shortest route for us to take...
That could have ended so badly...

Tour du Loire et Cher Stage 2 brief

Just got back from second stage. Busy waiting for Alain to get out of the shower so that I can clean up.
Stage was very interesting with a suicidal final 10km. Lots of crashes, one of which took Jaro out. Fortunately he is fine, but he did loose some time. Alain was fifth or sixth in the sprint and is still pulling his hair out as he was definitely the fastest there. Just a pity that I was not able to help him some more in the final.
More in a mo.
 

Quick update

Internet coped out on us in the hotel last night so this will be very quick. We are leaving the hotel in 30min for 205 fun kilometers in a howling wind. Should be interesting!
Yesterday was a bit of a bugger. I got second in the first KOM and was lining myself up nicely for the second one when someone crashed and I went down as well. Two kilometers before the second KOM. Ai!
It was a funny fall (more on that later) but I was scrambling back to find my bike and hop on within no time. Once on it things were not so good and I looked down to see my derailleur was smashed. Yelling to Davide over the radio about what happened didn't help much as the road was so narrow that it took a long time for the service vehicles to come up to us. A quick bike swap and a looong chase back into the bunch with the help of Davide and a German rider and I thought all was well. Only to find out that 35 riders had gone down the road, including Jaro and Colombo. Within no time they had 3 minutes on the bunch and I thought all was over.
Fortunately enough teams missed the move and within the last few kilometers we caught up to the front. Well. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for Jaro. Not quite sure which is better right now, but we'll see as the tour progresses.
Jaro, Alain and I ended up in the bunch sprint, but all of us were at the back somewhere.
Off for stage two now with what seems like a sprained knee. Does that even exist?
Fun fun!

15 April 2008

Some more

Some pics from the prize giving. Hopefully I will have some more action pics soon.
Second was Victor Mironov riding for the UCI Academy and Third was Alain Lauener, my team mate.
 
The remnants of my breakaway was caught on the line by the charging peloton but fortunately they were all still able to stay ahead and get decent placings.
 
As I am still smiling from ear to ear after Sundays excursion, here is a little bit more.
Video clip from a French Swiss Sports program. It is about half an hour long so don't open this if you are on dial up.
Go to 17 minutes into the video for the little bit on the Lancy race.
 

14 April 2008

Tour de Loire et Cher

We are about to leave for the Tour de Loire et Cher in France. A lovely 2.2 ranked five day tour that I came tenth in last year.
Should be a lot of fun!

13 April 2008

Results sheet

Grand Prix de Lancy 2008

43e GRAND PRIX DE LANCY

Dimanche 13 avril 2008

5 tours - 177 km.

Moyenne : 39.48 km/h

Elites - Amateurs

Pos. N° Nom Club Temps total Ecart avec 1er

1 225 Dan Craven TEAM Fidibc.com 04:18:56 -

2 244 Mironov Victor Centre Mondial du Cyclisme 04:20:50 01:54

3 227 Lauener Alain TEAM Fidibc.com 04:20:50 01:54

4 226 Montanari Matteo TEAM Fidibc.com 04:20:50 01:54

5 271 Beuchat Roger Team Serramenti - Diquigiovanni 04:20:50 01:54

6 207 Murf René Team Hörmann 04:20:50 01:54

7 189 Moser Andreas Burgis Cycling Team 04:20:50 01:54

8 228 Marycz Jaroslaw TEAM Fidibc.com 04:20:50 01:54

9 193 Andres Roman GS Rufalex 04:20:50 01:54

10 201 Birrer Mario Team Hörmann 04:20:50 01:54

11 213 Locher David Team BMC-Seppy-Teker-Hottinger 04:20:50 01:54

12 335 Fischer Nicolas 04:20:50 01:54

13 315 Corti Pascal Cyclophile Sédunois 04:20:50 01:54

14 188 Lang Pirmin Burgis Cycling Team 04:20:50 01:54

15 245 Monsalve Jonathan Centre Mondial du Cyclisme 04:20:50 01:54

16 180 Anzalone Maurizio Vélo-Club Mendrisio-PL Valli 04:20:50 01:54

17 209 Anderegg Andreas Team BMC-Seppy-Teker-Hottinger 04:20:50 01:54

18 242 Lovassy Krisztian Centre Mondial du Cyclisme 04:20:50 01:54

19 246 Monsalve Ralf Centre Mondial du Cyclisme 04:20:50 01:54

20 182 Giani Marco Vélo-Club Mendrisio-PL Valli 04:20:50 01:54

21 229 Czakowski Konrad TEAM Fidibc.com 04:20:50 01:54

Grand Prix de Lancy 13 March 2008

FINALLY! My word, It's taken since mid 2005, but I finally did it today!
(I know this is long, but today I think it can be..)
 
GP Lancy, held in the far west of Switzerland on the outskirts of Genevra is a 177km Handicap race over five laps, which started in the chilly early hours of the morning. Fortunately the sun came out pretty quickly and things brightened up as we set off 10 minutes behind the Amateur bunch (hence Handicap race).
We fielded ten riders this morning, four of which were in the Amateur bunch which as usual meant that we were not allowed to do any pacing work. I was slightly concerned as no team seemed to really be setting up a pace line but before long it became obvious that today's race would be an attacking one. Towards the end of the first lap I jumped after a BMC rider (from the American Pro-Conti BMC team) and we got a nice group of about 8 riders pacing for all it's worth. Unfortunately that did not last for too long but that did not matter too much.
Shortly after being caught by the bunch we caught the majority of the Amateurs (wow, they must have been crawling today!) and not long afterwards I was off the front again.
I can't really remember how it happened, I just remember all of a sudden that Jaro was going wild and encouraging our group to GO as we had a gap. We hammered it up the next climb and got a slight gap before I really got to look around and see that we had formed a group of just about 20 which increased slightly as we picked up the remnants of the amateur breakaway. With Fidi numbering five in the break we were pushing it to get going and evidently did a good job of it. With two laps to go we had a two minute advantage as the group decreased slightly and we dropped Steven (who won the Amateur event in Fully).
One lap from the end I attacked really hard going up a steep and narrow climb just after the finish line and the group whittled down to nine riders with Jaro, Alain (Fritz), Matteo and myself still in there. I tried to get Matteo and Jaro in on a bit of 'two man attack and dead wheel action' but the two misunderstood me and the attack flopped. Instead Jaro threw a counter attack and got away solo which was fine. Matteo and I played blockers and really made the other riders lives miserable as they could not get any rhythm going without Matteo or I butting our front wheels in and destroying what they had going.
Unfortunately Jaro went a bit to far out and with a section on a dead straight road into a head wind he was reeled in slowly but surely. As the catch was about to happen we turned right and went over a little bump which after 170km could hurt any ones legs. Two of the chasers put in a move but did not get far. As soon as they realized that and slowed I jumped with all I had left and veered wide to the opposite side of the road. Flying past Jaro who was really going slowly by then I put my head down and went for it.
Davide was going wild on the race radio and must have repeated 'Chase the motorbike' at least thirty times! I knew that my team mates would be blocking at the back, just like I had been doing up until my attack so all I had to do was go balls to the wall. Davide was on my tail, still going wild, so I had extra motivation to do so.
After a while he changed his tune and would tell me to keep going as the race was not finished yet. Push push push. I only ever looked back once as I took the final turn into the final kilometer and could not see anyone behind me. That didn't change anything though as I kept my head down and going all out. All of a sudden, with 300 meters to go Davide mentioned over the radio that I nearly had a two minute gap so I could sit up, zip up and enjoy the victory!
I could barely believe it. It's been SO long since I won in Europe that I almost felt that it would never happen again..
One HUGE shout out to the team! We were amazing today! This bodes well for the next few races!
Can't wait!

11 April 2008

GP Valloton, Fully, 6 April 2008

Another race on the Swiss National Calender, at least this time it was a normal Elite race and not handicap, which meant proper racing instead of confusing tactics and being told to hold back (where's the excitement in that?).
We took the 250km, 4 hour drive to Fully on Saturday, taking the shortcut along the narrow lake side roads and over the massive Simplon pass. Everyone was very happy when we booked into a familiar hotel and tucked into a very good looking dinner. Pasta, potatoes, steamed veggies galore, chicken and pasta sauce. At the time I could not have asked for more. Leaving the hotel at 4.30 the next morning in order to make the early start I started wondering though...


With a slow drizzle and the sun still hiding behind the mountains we set off at a fast pace and after Jaro and Konrad's two attacks were unsuccessful I tried and managed to get away with two other riders. We immediately opened up a huge gap which was surprising but as we got to the 2km hill (nasty bugger but not a killer) I could not hold the guys wheel (other breakaway companion had blown by then already). I dropped. Stunned.
Shocked!

Around about this stage I started picking up how my stomach's rumblings grew louder and louder.

I hung around for a while and managed to get myself into the big split of the day but was suffering big time. Hanging on for dear life on the climb and in the gutter, watching in dismay as Jacques Janse van Rensburg (riding for the UCI Academy) went down the road on his own for a while. At the time a 'normal' move seemed inhumane to me.
Even though the team was sitting pretty with our five strongest riders in the 25 man break things were going backwards. Ben was dq'ed after getting help from the cars after a puncture, while Jaro, Konrad and myself were fading fast. Matteo, the goat/mountain man who can eat rocks if he likes was unaffected. Of course. So he was left to do his own thing as with one lap to go the combined Namibian and Polish forces retreated in full force.
Matteo was able to finish in the group behind the lone winner and get a decent fifth place while the rest of us were headed for the showers.
Even Davide (manager) was struck by the dodgy pasta sauce so there were not too many hard feelings going around. Also thanks to Steven, our team mate in the Amateur ranks, things were a little rosier as he was able to win his race solo!

Now all is better and I for one am hoping to make up for a really disappointing race!

Quote of the month

You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.
Henry D. Thoreau

10 April 2008

GP Courtine 31 March 2008

As usual the Swiss have some pretty crazy ideas, like holding the first National race of the season at over 1000 meters. Fortunately it was a lovely day so there were no weather issues, but there was still a LOT of snow all over the place, as can be seen in the pictures. The race was another Handicap race over 120km where the amateur bunch was let off 8 minutes ahead of our elite bunch. As we had riders in both groups we were not allowed to chase but thanks to the other teams we caught the amateurs on lap four of eight.


Soon after that I went away in a break of six riders and always hovered around one minute ahead of the bunch. Leading up the 3km climb/drag towards the finish for the bell I put in an acceleration and the size of the break was halved. 15km to go, three riders and a raging pack behind. The gap started coming down and we steamed ahead as fast as possible. As we hit the final ascent for the last time, 3km to go, the bunch was hovering at thirty seconds.
I immediately attacked and the UCI Academy rider with us was left behind. With 'ou toppie' Elminger, a masters world champion riding for the Continental team Steg-Computers hanging on my wheel I put in all I had. Not willing to give him a free ride I put in three accelerations, eventually getting rid of him and setting off solo.
With 1500meters to go I came out of the woods, with the finish in sight, but that is where the headwind hit me. I could see the bunch coming closer, bit by bit.
300meters to go I glanced back on final time, and thought that I had it.
Then
Less than 100meters from the line they all came rushing past me... I was spent and could just roll across the line in 22nd place. It's been a while since I needed a little bit of privacy and a quiet corner after a race...
By the time that I got back to the team car I had calmed down enough to be very pleased by the news that our Goat (Matteo Montanari) had actually won the sprint! Not too shabby for the little guy!

27 March 2008

Pics from France

If Davide looks that cold with a big jacket on, imagine how balmy we felt in cycling kit...
And even though the sun was shining at Rue Tourangelle it was still a frosy 8 degrees at the start.

26 March 2008

La Rue Tourangelle 1.2

Two days later and we were close to Tours for a 195km over lovely climbs and terrible little back roads. Another chilly day made for temperatures between 3 and 8 degrees, this time at least it was dry so I was happy.
After the first two Euro races going badly I was rather edgy and scared, so instead of being aggressive and playing about, I sat in more than I should have. This resulted in the break going away without me. Again. The bunch reacted really strangely so in the end two Ukrainians were left to ride away for the win. Back in the bunch I was sitting the front, making all the splits in the gutter, but it always came back together in any case, so that didn't help much.
Going over the last bump of the day I was in first position 'gooiing it' full tilt, down the other side and Jaro, my Polish team mate, came swooping past me. Knowing him I got on his wheel to leave a nice gap just before the next bend. This gave him a nice lead over the pack who were not sure what to do. The moments hesitation was all Jaro needed and he was able to TT home for 5km to take a well deserved third place! Nice.
 

Classique Loire Atlantique 1.2

Off to France for 180km in windy, freezing and wet conditions. Unfortunately for me the 180km never were a problem though as I had frozen legs standing at the start line in the single digit temperatures. The race started at full tilt and after being caught behind a pileup on a climb and then getting caught mid pack in the gutter I was left in a hopeless situation and watched the leaders speed off down the road.
As soon as they were gone my legs seemed to warm up (amazing in those temperatures) and I started feeling rather strong.
No can do though and any efforts were to no avail. After three and a half of the ten laps my entire group pulled over and we watched the rest of the race from the sidelines. What a waste!

16 March 2008

Mendrisiotto

First EU race of the season was a fun affair, starting off in a very cold early morning drizzle (if you just left summer it was definately cold!). Wet roads and a huge bunch made me quite nervous and I hung mid pack for the first two laps, which was when a 17 man break went down the road with 3 team mates in it. I hung around the front of the bunch and on about the sixth or seventh of twelve laps I followed Nazareno Rossi on the climb. Jacques JvR (riding with the UCI) was on my wheel and we managed to get away and cross over to the front with the help of three other riders.
Once there I just hung on the back, nursing my legs which were trying to cramp, while I tried to drink as much water as possible to prevent that from happening. It was a rather miserable affair, but hanging on the back was all that I could do. In the end a group of about 13 got away from the leading bunch which by then was 40 riders strong and we never saw them again. I was pleased not to cramp up to badly and was able to hang on over the climb the last few times to finish somewhere in the second bunch.
All in all, not quiet what I was hoping for, but considering that I still have to get used to the temperatures and that Jacques was in the same boat as I was, I suppose that I can not complain.
Ben and Jaro had fabulous rides finishing 12th and 13th after Jaro's last ditch attack was caught 250meters from the line.
We leave for France and two more 1.2 races on wednesday. Hopefully the legs will be used to the temperatures by then!

15 March 2008

Nam Champ Jersey

My team (www.TeamFidiBC.com) has just given me to the go ahead to design a Namibian Champ Jersey to wear for the 2008 season. No such thing has ever existed before so I need help in designing it.
 
So...
Whoever comes up with the best design will win a full set of FidiBC kit (bibs, shirt, gloves and socks made in Italy by oneleven www.tecnowear.it) posted to you by yours truly.
 
Designs can be sent to me at dancraven[at]gmail[dot]com
 
The closing date has been extended to Monday 17h00, just in time for the NCF meeting to make their decision.
 
 
Other info:
I would like to have the Sun from our flag integrated into the design but otherwise do not have any requests. Colours can be whatever you like but obvious choices would come from the flag.
 
 

1.3.069

On the national champion's jersey, the following advertising spaces shall be authorized:

• on the front and back of the jersey, in a rectangle 10 cm high;

• area comprising shoulders and sleeves: maximum 5 cm high in a single line;

• on the sides of the jersey: a 9 cm wide strip;

• the manufacturer's label (25 cm

2) may appear once only on the jersey and once on each leg of

the shorts.

these advertising spaces shall be reserved for the rider's usual sponsors.

Here's an idea to kick start your creative mind!

14 March 2008

Quote of the Month

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. Napoleon Hill

10 March 2008

Pick n Pay Argus Cycle Tour

The Funride World Champs! Always a lot of fun. After yet another night of barely sleeping we were up at sparrows so that we could start the Argus at a sprightly 6.15 on Sunday morning. With the weather and my legs playing along nicely all was well as we set off at a fast speed with Barloworld sitting at the front keeping things together for Robbie. Chris Froome did an AMAZING job, basically pacing the whole way with the help of his team mate Felix and much later in the race one rider from Neotel. Really impressive to sit at the back of the pack and see what they were doing!
Thanks to their terrific work the pace was steady all day long and we all had a relatively easy ride, chatting and having fun most of the way. I was waiting for Suikerbossie, keen to make a move and interested to see if Domenique Cornu (Belgian National Team) was going to follow my suggestiona and attack with me.
At the base of Suikerbossie I found myself on his wheel and he took off like a bullet! The two of us went all out and only two other riders were with us as we opened up a small gap on the field. Of course we were never going to get far as Pfannenberger chased us down, but it was still fun giving it a go.
After that it was sit in again and wait for Robbie to win the sprint which he did with relative ease. I misjudged the sprint, again, but was still pleased with my 18th place for the day.
 
The rest of the day was spent socializing with people that I have not seen in ages, which was really a lot of fun! Really great to see everyone again!
Now I am in Whk for 36 hours before heading off to EU for the season. Can not wait!!!

08 March 2008

Giro del Capo Stage 5

The last stage of the Tour was the traditional 5km Signal Hill TimeTrial. After barely sleeping for the third day in a row (no idea why!?) and having a slightly blocked nose in the morning (also coming over the last two days) I was not really looking forward to this stage. Nor have I ever really.
After a nice warm up it was off to the start ramp as I watched Domenique Cornu start ahead of me at a blistering pace. One minute later and I set off, immediately feeling slower than he had looked. Initially I thought that I had a decent rhythm but realized that was not really the case after a while. Not much to be done though, I just kept on pushing and briefly enjoyed the great crowd support at the Kloof Nek hairpin. After that it was just a normal TT suffer fest and I eventually crossed the line in a whopping 14min05 a whole 95seconds behind David George who once again won the stage.
Chris Froome put in a fabulous ride to take second on general classification! A fantastic result and a great way to start his first year in the pro ranks!
 
Now all that awaits us are the Funride World Champs, the infamous Argus. Should be fun!

Giro del Capo Stage 4

A loop past Boland Lanbou Skool and then going up the new Helshoogte pass and down the old road four times made for an interesting day. A break including Robbie Hunter went down the road which meant that some other teams had to do the chasing for a change. Once again I could sit on and had a easy ride, enjoying the spirit in the bunch, especially when we missed a turnoff and the race descended into chaos for a few minutes as we all had to regroup and sort out what went wrong.
After the break was recalled and sent on the right route with their original time gap we were off again, heading for the dreaded Helshoogte laps. Unfortunately one lap was cut out due to the mistake and as it was we took the climb at a mediocre pace initially. I was hoping that the pace would be higher as it would break the bunch up even more but at the time I was just happy that I dd not have to suffer that much.
Each climb the bunch would split up a bit but come back together again on the descent, just a little smaller every time. Unfortunately I witnessed two unpleasant incidents as Pieter Henning crashed on the descent while looking strong. It happened right in front of me and I got a huge fright and narrowly missed riding over/into him. Turns out the fall looked nastier than it was, I am glad to say!
The other incident was Burry Stander riding into a Konica Minolta staff member who had no clue what she was doing. He grabbed a bottle from his helper but then Miss K-M got in his way and they collided. I had a front row seat and could not believe what I had seen, very disgusted! To make matters worse Burry punctured shortly after so never made it back to the front group and thus also dropping down on GC, making the 3 second gap I had on him in the morning a bit bigger. Yes, I hate saying it, but I did profit from his misfortunes...
Back to the racing
Coming into the last lap we flew up the steep part of the climb once more before the pace settled on the false flat. Domenique Cornu (2006 u23 World TT Champ) took a flyer, followed shortly afterwards by a K-M and BarloW rider. I tried my luck and jumped after them but never could close the gap, which left me in no mans land for 2km before David George lead a small group back up to me. With 1200meters to go they accelerated and I was not able to follow, loosing 150meters to them by the line, but still coming in 10th for the day and moving up to 11th on GC.
Once again not to shabby. What made it all better were all of the people who had come out to watch and were shouting by the roadside! I was impressed by how many times I heard my name and just have to say thank you to everyone who came out on the day!

Giro del Capo Stage 3

I am still getting used to my 3G toys so was out of touch for a bit. In the mean time the Giro has come to an end and I have some catching up to do with my storytelling.
 
Stage 3 170km Paarl - Paarl via Franschoek Pass and du Toit's Kloof
The race started with a bang as everyone tried to get into the break before the first climb. Unfortunately for us everyone had the same idea and we did the 'sprint' to Franschoek at over 48km/h. Once there it was full gas over the climb as the bunch split up and I was left in a small chasing bunch. Fortunately everything came together again as we cruised on towards du Toit's kloof. At the base things were kept under control but as we went through the small tunnel the fun began and the field blew apart.
Having learnt my lesson in the past I immediately moved to the front in the tunnel and came out with the select group at the front but that did not last very long as more attacking saw me pop off the back and 7 riders went ahead.
Fortunately for me Mannie was right ahead of me and as soon as I got onto his wheel he turned on his Diesel engine and started cruising up the hill. Initially we lost ground to the leaders but the higher we went the closer we got to them, eventually catching them just as we started the descent. The new lead group consisted of 12 riders, gelling well until we got within 4km of the line when I 'sort of' gave Mannie a dead wheel and he went solo for a bit. After that chaos broke loose with several people trying to get ahead.  In the end it all stayed together enough to come down to a sprint and I reacted a wee bit too slowly but still came in a respectable 6th. Mannie was not far behind after having a monstrous ride throughout the day, looking after me and bringing me more than 10 bottles throughout the day.
The average temperature was 39 degrees after all!

05 March 2008

Photos

Made a mistake yesterday by not adding the link to the pictures...
Stage 1:
 
Stage 2:
 
On the 11th photo you can see me catching some wind, not too far behind the Pink Jersey of Christian Pfannenberger, Austrian Champ, riding for Barloworld.
15th photo was the second time going up Vissershok, I'm in 6th position but all you can see is my right arm, recognisable by the glove, sleeve and wrist band. Just trust me on that one ;)

Giro Stage 2

Stage two was a 147km, three lap affair around Durbanville and the dreaded Vissershok climb.
After yesterdays absolute dominance by Barloworld everyone was weary this morning and wondering what would happen. I was expecting an early break to go, lots of guttering on the second and third lap and then broken riders coming home in drips and drabs. This would ahve been the case had the wind ever picked up like it was forecasted but instead it all remained calm and there were only three attempts at guttering (all at different points throughout the circuit).
After learning my lesson yesterday (again) I stayed wide awake and at the front of the bunch waiting for the action that never really happened. A break went in the first 10km's and I was very keen on being in it. Unfortunately the gap I was about to take was shut and I was cut off, left to sit in the bunch. At the time I thought it was a blessing in discuise but turns out it was not as the break was never to be seen again, staying away until the end.
Back in the bunch things were only really dangerous a few times, including up Vissers. The first time was a slow ride but nr two and three were feisty affairs and I bit the bullet and went over the top in about 7th and 3rd position on the last two laps. Both times I hoped to keep the small and select group away but a bigger group reformed on both occasions. After the third summit it was a quick dive down into Durbanville for the sprint where I placed somewhere at the top end of 10th, including the breakaway riders in front that should give me a top 20 for the day and hopefully move me up from 31st in GC.
 
As for the Nam team, Mannie and Marc had really good rides, only fading a little bit the last time up Vissers. Lotto took a bit more strain and finished a bit further off the pace after not making it back to the bunch after lap 2. Arno became a DNF after his chest issue worsened overnight and he pulled out. A great pity as we are now down to 4 of the original 6 man team. At least spirits are still high and we are looking forward to the rest of the tour!

Giro Stage 2

Stage two was a 147km, three lap affair around Durbanville and the dreaded Vissershok climb.
After yesterdays absolute dominance by Barloworld everyone was weary this morning and wondering what would happen. I was expecting an early break to go, lots of guttering on the second and third lap and then broken riders coming home in drips and drabs. This would ahve been the case had the wind ever picked up like it was forecasted but instead it all remained calm and there were only three attempts at guttering (all at different points throughout the circuit).
After learning my lesson yesterday (again) I stayed wide awake and at the front of the bunch waiting for the action that never really happened. A break went in the first 10km's and I was very keen on being in it. Unfortunately the gap I was about to take was shut and I was cut off, left to sit in the bunch. At the time I thought it was a blessing in discuise but turns out it was not as the break was never to be seen again, staying away until the end.
Back in the bunch things were only really dangerous a few times, including up Vissers. The first time was a slow ride but nr two and three were feisty affairs and I bit the bullet and went over the top in about 7th and 3rd position on the last two laps. Both times I hoped to keep the small and select group away but a bigger group reformed on both occasions. After the third summit it was a quick dive down into Durbanville for the sprint where I placed somewhere at the top end of 10th, including the breakaway riders in front that should give me a top 20 for the day and hopefully move me up from 31st in GC.
 
As for the Nam team, Mannie and Marc had really good rides, only fading a little bit the last time up Vissers. Lotto took a bit more strain and finished a bit further off the pace after not making it back to the bunch after lap 2. Arno became a DNF after his chest issue worsened overnight and he pulled out. A great pity as we are now down to 4 of the original 6 man team. At least spirits are still high and we are looking forward to the rest of the tour!