08 August 2008

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!

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