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!