Sunday, June 22, 2014

Elia Guides and Gallops to Perfection, stage 4 tour of slovenia

Final stage of the Tour of Slovenia today to wrap up what's been a full gas on the rivit few days of great racing! The Cannondale clan had one simple objective for the final stage, to give the Green Missile Elia Viviani the best possible chance to chalk up another bunch gallop victory. Along with that we wanted to ensure our super athlete koren maintained his 4th place on the GC and Damiano also consolidate his 6th place. By days end the results sheet stated that we met all these goals to cap of the perfect day for the green machine so here's a bit of a look at how it all transpired.

On paper the stage had bunch sprint written all over it. It was was the only such stage in the 2014 edition of the race so obviously the numerous teams that brought a sprinter had a big interest in ensuring this happened. As a result of this a fast fast 50kmph + first hour ensured thanks to a combination of riders keen for a head start and all the sprinting teams not willing to let to many go to make things easier to control. In the end the perfect group for us went clear as although it was small it included a rider who was a threat to the GC and as a result the team of the yellow jersey kept the escapees on a very tight leash ensuring a very fast 153km, very fast actually as elia would stop the clock at 3hrs 22minutes when he blasted through the finish tape ahead of the rest of the field. The stage was pretty straight forward, 120 km on nice roads followed by 4 laps of an 8km circuit to finish things of. So with the race well and truly we sat tight and kept the powder dry for the frantic positioning to begin in the final laps of the finish circuits.

I must admit I had a pretty good feeling about today. This morning at breakfast elia looked very calm relaxed and confident. This pleased me for a couple of reasons. Firstly it meant he felt good and believed he had the goods to win the stage, and secondly and most importantly for me he believed that the troops he had at his disposal were capable of helping deliver him to finish in a position to sprint for the victory. So day was off to good start and reminiscent of the feeling within the group we had at the tour of turkey. With the knowledge of this I too started the stage full of confidence in the fact I would be able to do whatever was asked of me and just waited with anxious anticipation to get the battle plan from elia in the closing stages of the race once he had scoped out the finish circuit and most importantly the final km's of the race.

Sure enough with around 10km elis rolled up beside me and laid down the law. The race would be won with perfect positioning in a tricky right hand corner 300m from the finish. Elia knew if he was in the first few positions there then the victory would be a formality. At around 2km to go there was a small rise which topped out at 1.5km to go and the 2km marker was to be our moment to pounce. The plan was pretty simply, damiano, 2nd last man, king Kong koren last man, and elia would line up behind me and at 2km I would hit the gas and keep the head of the peleton. Next damiano would get them inside the final km and koren would take over with one big powerfull pull to have elia in pole position for the all important right hand turn. Seemed like such a simple plan and with elia brimming in confidence I absolutely chomping at the bit to see that final 2km to go marker!

As we entered the last lap the boys lined up behind me. We waited patiently saving our bullets for the charge to the front at the right moment. Initially elia took my wheel and told me when to move. At the end of the day we had to move in a way that kept his legs as fresh as possible so as I was the one to take the wind and drag the train forward it was best he guided me. Again like Caruso on the climb yesterday was like have an excellent coxwain sitting behind. When elia said go I went, when he said nothing I know he was happy with where we were. All was going plan and then with 5km to go things got even better for us as Snr sagan and the austrian oxe krizek stormed to the front to take the wind responsibility away from me. This was crucial as all of a sudden I was able to save my legs for that all important 2km to marker. At 3km to krizek bulldozed his way to the front of the peleton and ripped out an almighty pull that immediately had the bunch in a long line. I sat patiently behind him and when the 2km sign came into view and his fearsome surge was done It was my time to take the baton! I took a quick look over my shoulder to make sure the boys were lined up and all was in order and hit the gas!

In the final few km's there is no messing around or holding back. You do an effort at that time and it's going to be your last effort for the race if you do it properly as you will have lactate acid up to your eyeballs when you unceremoniously blow yourself to pieces. The most important thing was to ensure our train had the momentum as we crest the top of the rise around 1.3km from the finish. I have to admit I had to dig very deep to keep the front of the bunch for this 1km small km! I was absolutely maxed out and simply fixated on the top of the rise. As I finally crested it I stood up and gave it one final dig before giving damiano the nod I was done and he dully ripped past with what seemed effortless ease. At this point I knew it was in the bag. Damino looked like he was capable of taking elia all the way to the finish line at 70kmph and he also still at koren at his disposal with not much more than 1minute of the race remaining, to me there seemed to be no other possible result. Sure enough as expected the boys delivered Elia to absolute perfection and he celebrated his 4th win of the season. My assumption of damiano's effortless ease in those final km's was also confirmed with him finishing 10th on the stage and climbing a spot to finish 6th on GC so a great way to finish the race for him. All in all it was an absolute awesome effort by all the boys from Snr sagan juraj, and krizek setting up the train and delivering me perfectly to the 2km to go marker. From there it was as simple as 45 seconds all out from us 3 and then for and explosive 15second sprint where elia produces the horsepower of a jumbo jet! Absolutely awesome way to finish of the tour of slovenia and thanks to all the boys and especially elia for having the goods to finish it all of in such fine style!!

CJW

Saturday, June 21, 2014

slovenia stage 3

Only one thing to say about today, sore legs!! Stage 3 of tour of slovenia was the queens stage and it certainly lived up to its billing as the day to decide the race. With king Kong koren and Caruso the green machine had two genuine hopes for final GC podium and as a team we went all in to set them up for a crack at the title. Everybody had a role to play and most importantly it's important as a team to work as one and have a go, sometimes it works, sometimes it's doesn't, but you learn something every time and at the end of the stage everybody can have a smile on there dial as they have the satisfaction of doing what was asked of them. In the koren would consolidate 4th on GC which for a guy who is not a pure climber by any stretch of the imagination, Infact I think he is giving away 15kg to the 3 rock spiders in front of him it was a jolly awesome performance so we are all pleased for him. Most importantly he consolidated his lead in the leading slovenian category! Now for how it all unfolded.

It was an absolute doozy of course today. There was not a single section of flat road and I can't remember a straight section either! Add to that the fact that often the roads were no more than a car width and a bit wide and I am pretty sure you can paint a good picture that it was a day to stay up front and out of trouble! A nice controllable break skipped away pretty early on to everyone's relief and we waited for which team would make the first move. On paper the stage looked perfectly suited to the lampre phenomenon diago illusi and not surprisingly once the escapees were given some breathing room they immediately put the there troops on the front. We had to decided to go all in for the stage and naturally sent up 2 of our own soldiers in Snr sagan and the austrian oxe krizek and the pace was on!! I can't remember ever being comfortable in the bunch all day, it was just about that comfort zone but fortunately just below unpleasant! Basically provided you were up the front and had a bit of an idea what was happening you could always be content knowing those behind were suffering more than you! The stage was characterized by 3 climbs. The first which was 9km in length came after 115, the second 6km came after 155km and the final 20km drag up to the line came at 172km. Our plan was for Snr sagan and krizek to ride to the first climb where I would tale over. I would keep riding on the run into the 2nd climb where junior mohoric would take over and then koren and Caruso would be left with the smooth pedaling vilella to make a difference on the final climb idealy from a tired small peleton! Krizek and Juraj rode like 10men a kept the break at a manageable 5minutes and due to the extreme velocity it felt like a blink of an eye and we were at the base of the 1st major climb of the day and my turn to take up the baton!

As we swung right onto the climb I immediately took the reins. The plan was not to go too hard as we still had 70km to race but simply put a bit of fatigue in the legs of the guys in the bunch. On way to many occasion lately on the climbs I have been the ball so was relishing the opportunity to be the bat again and enjoying the fact that my pins are actually able to deliver a little bit of power. I needed to keep the rev limiter on as I knew I had a 30km valley to ride on the front after the climb so settled into a nice rhythm. The climb was 9km but with around 2km to go there was a bit of a downhill before the kick up to the line. The climb took around 22min and for that I averaged 430 watts. For the section before the decent however was 18minutes at 450 watts so again was nice to see some confirmation of what I felt. For the first 10min before I backed off a little I averaged 465 watts so again was nice to see an improvement from yesterday, it's always a nice feeling on your first race back on the comeback trial to be feeling better day by day. The boys were all lined up behind me and Caruso was excellent at keeping me enthused, was like having a good cozwain in a rowing boat! Anyways over the climb and onto the decent so from the privileged first position I let junior mohoric put his depending skills to the test while I drifted back to the car to get water for the boys and have a quick chat with our director biagio to make sure all was on track. I got the bottles, had the chin wag and deployed them back to the boys and took up my spot on the front again for the run into the 2nd last climb where my role came to an end. Sure enough as we hit the lower slopes of the climb junior mohoric was chomping at the bit to do his job and the green machine train stormed past me! Completely cooked I now only had 25km's of climbing to get to the finish, ah the perks of being a dish pig!

So junior took up the baton and instantly the field was in single file. He drummed out his tempo up and over the 2nd last climb and into the base of the final one. Fortunately his acceleration made the bunch as long as it's to possible to make with 50guys in it and I was able to stay near the back over the climb and get a bit of a free ride down the other side. When junior swung off and the group whittled down we had a good numeric advantage. All was going to plan and koren and Caruso now had vilella to help them finish the job. In the end the speed in the final km or so of the a few of the pure climbers was a little on the fast side for our boys but they still did a great job keeping kristian in 4th and still holding out some remote hope for a podium spot. Will have to be aggressive tomorrow if he wants to move up but being the fine athlete he is I wouldn't rule anything out so I am looking forward yet again to hearing what our director biagio conte has install for us tomorrow.

I must admit I have been very excited each night when I go to bed here in slovenia with the prospect of what lies ahead tomorrow. I guess that sensation of feeling stronger and more comfortable with the race rhythm every day is really nice and I am ancious to see how much that improves from day to day. Although today didn't land the team a victory or a podium spot it was certainly one of the more enjoyable and satisfying days I have had with the green machine from the point of view of setting a plan and sticking to it and going all in for the result. Like I have said before the outcome is not important, we have our fair share of wins! What's most important to the team and also the part I enjoy the most is how we devise a plan and execute it, the journey of working together as a team. Tomorrow's a new day so another opportunity to give it a go!!

Time for some sleep

CJW

Friday, June 20, 2014

stage 2 tour of slovenia

The 2nd stage of the 2014 tour of slovenia is one I won't forget in hurry! It's absolutely on the go all day and for one reason or another you never seemed to be able to relax for a second. In the end Damiano Caruso showed he is ready to also fight for the GC along with koren with a fine 4th place from a very selective group. Koren defended his 2nd place on GC and of course most importantly his leading slovenian jersey so it was all smiles yet again on the Cannondale team bus after the stage.

Back to the race and It started with nice little leg softening 6km climb. As the designated cover the breakaway dude that meant that I could forget about the first race in a while collywobbles as my heart rate was through the roof and had lactate up to my eyeballs covering dangerous moves. While I was feeling the burn so to speak so early in the day with the whole stage ahead it was an enjoyable burn as I knew the lungs and legs where definitely on there way back. Eventually a couple of km's from the top I was able to bully my way to the front and with the help of the greenedge boys discourage anymore attacks and let 4 dudes skip away. The plan for the day was to protect our super athlete koren and damiano for the GC and should the opportunity arise set the sprint up for elia. First objective for this was to let a nice small easily controllable break jump up the road.

The best part about having a rider in the team 2nd on GC is you have the right to be at the front but not the obligation to do anywork! With this fortunate card up our sleeve I set up camp behind the Greenedge boys and the Cannondale boys slotted in behind me, a perfect spot to be in the bunch!! Well usually! On a fast decent section just 40km into the stage big Jens mouris misjudged a left hand turn and hit the deck hard, really hard at 60kmph. Surfice to say we didn't see him again in the bunch so I hope he is ok. Still I was jolly lucky not to join him and had some nervy double wheel drifting and rear wheel skipping to navigate my way around the 2m tall 90km dutchman! Fillipo pozzato was particularly impressed with my evasive action reminiscent of a motor cross bike! Pozzato is also a motor bike enthusiast like me so I shared with him the secret that I had been to watch the italian motorcross GP with my mate bryan staring on the weekend and must have picked up a few pointers from the experts! We had a good chuckle at this and I filled him in on what went on and we discussed the difference between supercross and motor cross. I had watched the anaheim supercross in california in January and was super impressed but have to admit enjoyed the atmosphere of the outdoor version a lot more. Pozzato agreed as we both thought you get to see more rider battles for all places on the bigger track than the tight supercross version where bikes seem to be all over the place. Also and perhaps a little biased pozzato thought the maggiore circuit is a traditional one and perhaps one of the more beautiful on the world circuit, I would have to confess that I can't argue with him on that one, bryan and I were super duper impressed! Anyways that was actually the first time I had had a decent conversation with pozzato so was nice to get to know him through the mutual interest of motorcross racing! Funilly enough it wouldn't be the first time we would be side by side in today's stage was fortunate to have made aquaitance with him early in the stage thanks to my crash avasive techniques!

Again back to the race and having avoided the crash things settled down a little. Still the pace was pretty full on all day and after so many weeks of long not so fast endurance training in tenerife I must admit I was feeling some fatigue from the lack of race rhythm. Still we had the perfect spot in the bunch and we're all together and I knew one way or another by days end the team would execute our objectives.

The stage was pretty straight forward and would be characterized by a hard 9km 9% climb topping out 40km from the finish. Naturally as we approached the base it seemed the organizer's had conveniently found the narrowest twisty narrow road in slovenia for the run in and the stress in the bunch and fight for positions began. We were right at the front and koren and damiano are two of the best at holding position so was no need to worry about them. My month or so had me a little tentative and I slipped back behind the boys to be there should anyone get in strife and need a wheel or a quick drag to the front. Fortunately I could do this from a relatively forward position thanks to the green machine boys as usual riding excellent position and as the climb began all was in order. Let's the pain train begin!

Sure enough it didn't take a second for teams to start forcing the pace and blowing in the race apart. As was planned I sat patiently behind Elia but it became evident the pace was a little higher than we anticipated and he started slipping back I had to jump forward and do my best to hang in there should koren or damiano need somthing. A special mention must go to one of our young guns Davide villella who seemingly pedals without fatigue and was present and accounted for in 4 position in the bunch. He has the fluid pedaling motion that simply looks effortless and while he has already made his name with podiums in the pro ranks he is destined for a successful career. It came as no surprise to arrive at the finish and hear that he had gobbled up all the mountains points at the top of the climb and will now leads the KOM competition, it will take a very good rider to take it off him that's for sure.

About 4km in and I was really battling and starting to root the pig as they call it! The easiest way to describe this is think of the complete opposite pedaling motion to how I just explained vilella! A couple more km's like this and I was unhitched from the front group of no more than 40guys and had to resort to my ungracefull pedaling motion in on my own! I had had one eye on my SRM and knew the numbers were high so was not surprised to find the going a bit tuff, after all I had been on the back foot from the first km's covering the attacks but this is to be expected having not raced hard in a long time. Fortunately while I suffered during the race by the final 10km the racing spark started to come back and gave me some more optimism for the stages ahead.

Like I said I had expected that the SRM might tell the story pretty well and it did. On the lower slopes of the final climb I did 5minutes at 500watts, 10min at 450watts and 20min at 420watts and 30min at 400watts. While these are not amazing numbers and a few percent of my best they are certainly the highest I have recorded since the tour of turkey so was nice to know that although I was on the back foot today my feeling that things were on the improve were correct so I am happy about that. So with a few km's to go I was dropped. I didn't give up getting back to the front group on the decent or run into the finish so gritted the teeth and spent the next few km's around 400watts. At the top we were a minute or 2 behind the front group and it was here that my new buddy in the bunch pozzato rolled up beside me. Obviously with his classics pedigree he is a classy bike hangler so I happily followed his smooth lines down the wet twisty decent. Our group was also pretty big, around 30-40 guys but with 3 men in the front group I could just sit in and have a free ride should be get back on which was nice and gave me a chance to get a good 40km of motor pacing in as teams chased.

The rain started coming down very hard in the final 30km or so and with this I was confident the boys up front would be all good. Kristian after all is an expert kite surfer so the water doesn't worry him and damiano's first professional victory came in atrocious conditions in coppi bartoli last season. Vilella is so classy on the bike I am sure he doesn't even notice the elements as he effortlessly roles along in the bunch and at the finish all 3 riders would find themselves in the top 20. Behind we chased hard but in reality made no inroads but still considering the class of the group up the front this was no surprise to me. As I said before I finally started to feel that racing kick out of the corners in the final km's so had me excited about what lays ahead for the final 2 days of the tour. I would be lying if I didn't say I expected to be doing it a little easier here but I guess in hindsight that wouldn't have been reality. The last race I did in california I finished dead last so for whatever reason I was at the bottom of my powers. Here in slovenia I am mid field so that's a significant improvement, would be nice if the trend continued as good things should be waiting for me at the next tour or race I line up in. Tomorrow is the queens stage and with 3 guys showing they are with the best on the climbs today I am sure Mr biagio conte will have something exciting planned for the 192km to the summit finish in tomorrow's stage!

Time for some tucker

Cjw

stage 2 tour of slovenia

The 2nd stage of the 2014 tour of slovenia is one I won't forget in hurry! It's absolutely on the go all day and for one reason or another you never seemed to be able to relax for a second. In the end Damiano Caruso showed he is ready to also fight for the GC along with koren with a fine 4th place from a very selective group. Koren defended his 2nd place on GC and of course most importantly his leading slovenian jersey so it was all smiles yet again on the Cannondale team bus after the stage.

Back to the race and It started with nice little leg softening 6km climb. As the designated cover the breakaway dude that meant that I could forget about the first race in a while collywobbles as my heart rate was through the roof and had lactate up to my eyeballs covering dangerous moves. While I was feeling the burn so to speak so early in the day with the whole stage ahead it was an enjoyable burn as I knew the lungs and legs where definitely on there way back. Eventually a couple of km's from the top I was able to bully my way to the front and with the help of the greenedge boys discourage anymore attacks and let 4 dudes skip away. The plan for the day was to protect our super athlete koren and damiano for the GC and should the opportunity arise set the sprint up for elia. First objective for this was to let a nice small easily controllable break jump up the road.

The best part about having a rider in the team 2nd on GC is you have the right to be at the front but not the obligation to do anywork! With this fortunate card up our sleeve I set up camp behind the Greenedge boys and the Cannondale boys slotted in behind me, a perfect spot to be in the bunch!! Well usually! On a fast decent section just 40km into the stage big Jens mouris misjudged a left hand turn and hit the deck hard, really hard at 60kmph. Surfice to say we didn't see him again in the bunch so I hope he is ok. Still I was jolly lucky not to join him and had some nervy double wheel drifting and rear wheel skipping to navigate my way around the 2m tall 90km dutchman! Fillipo pozzato was particularly impressed with my evasive action reminiscent of a motor cross bike! Pozzato is also a motor bike enthusiast like me so I shared with him the secret that I had been to watch the italian motorcross GP with my mate bryan staring on the weekend and must have picked up a few pointers from the experts! We had a good chuckle at this and I filled him in on what went on and we discussed the difference between supercross and motor cross. I had watched the anaheim supercross in california in January and was super impressed but have to admit enjoyed the atmosphere of the outdoor version a lot more. Pozzato agreed as we both thought you get to see more rider battles for all places on the bigger track than the tight supercross version where bikes seem to be all over the place. Also and perhaps a little biased pozzato thought the maggiore circuit is a traditional one and perhaps one of the more beautiful on the world circuit, I would have to confess that I can't argue with him on that one, bryan and I were super duper impressed! Anyways that was actually the first time I had had a decent conversation with pozzato so was nice to get to know him through the mutual interest of motorcross racing! Funilly enough it wouldn't be the first time we would be side by side in today's stage was fortunate to have made aquaitance with him early in the stage thanks to my crash avasive techniques!

Again back to the race and having avoided the crash things settled down a little. Still the pace was pretty full on all day and after so many weeks of long not so fast endurance training in tenerife I must admit I was feeling some fatigue from the lack of race rhythm. Still we had the perfect spot in the bunch and we're all together and I knew one way or another by days end the team would execute our objectives.

The stage was pretty straight forward and would be characterized by a hard 9km 9% climb topping out 40km from the finish. Naturally as we approached the base it seemed the organizer's had conveniently found the narrowest twisty narrow road in slovenia for the run in and the stress in the bunch and fight for positions began. We were right at the front and koren and damiano are two of the best at holding position so was no need to worry about them. My month or so had me a little tentative and I slipped back behind the boys to be there should anyone get in strife and need a wheel or a quick drag to the front. Fortunately I could do this from a relatively forward position thanks to the green machine boys as usual riding excellent position and as the climb began all was in order. Let's the pain train begin!

Sure enough it didn't take a second for teams to start forcing the pace and blowing in the race apart. As was planned I sat patiently behind Elia but it became evident the pace was a little higher than we anticipated and he started slipping back I had to jump forward and do my best to hang in there should koren or damiano need somthing. A special mention must go to one of our young guns Davide villella who seemingly pedals without fatigue and was present and accounted for in 4 position in the bunch. He has the fluid pedaling motion that simply looks effortless and while he has already made his name with podiums in the pro ranks he is destined for a successful career. It came as no surprise to arrive at the finish and hear that he had gobbled up all the mountains points at the top of the climb and will now leads the KOM competition, it will take a very good rider to take it off him that's for sure.

About 4km in and I was really battling and starting to root the pig as they call it! The easiest way to describe this is think of the complete opposite pedaling motion to how I just explained vilella! A couple more km's like this and I was unhitched from the front group of no more than 40guys and had to resort to my ungracefull pedaling motion in on my own! I had had one eye on my SRM and knew the numbers were high so was not surprised to find the going a bit tuff, after all I had been on the back foot from the first km's covering the attacks but this is to be expected having not raced hard in a long time. Fortunately while I suffered during the race by the final 10km the racing spark started to come back and gave me some more optimism for the stages ahead.

Like I said I had expected that the SRM might tell the story pretty well and it did. On the lower slopes of the final climb I did 5minutes at 500watts, 10min at 450watts and 20min at 420watts and 30min at 400watts. While these are not amazing numbers and a few percent of my best they are certainly the highest I have recorded since the tour of turkey so was nice to know that although I was on the back foot today my feeling that things were on the improve were correct so I am happy about that. So with a few km's to go I was dropped. I didn't give up getting back to the front group on the decent or run into the finish so gritted the teeth and spent the next few km's around 400watts. At the top we were a minute or 2 behind the front group and it was here that my new buddy in the bunch pozzato rolled up beside me. Obviously with his classics pedigree he is a classy bike hangler so I happily followed his smooth lines down the wet twisty decent. Our group was also pretty big, around 30-40 guys but with 3 men in the front group I could just sit in and have a free ride should be get back on which was nice and gave me a chance to get a good 40km of motor pacing in as teams chased.

The rain started coming down very hard in the final 30km or so and with this I was confident the boys up front would be all good. Kristian after all is an expert kite surfer so the water doesn't worry him and damiano's first professional victory came in atrocious conditions in coppi bartoli last season. Vilella is so classy on the bike I am sure he doesn't even notice the elements as he effortlessly roles along in the bunch and at the finish all 3 riders would find themselves in the top 20. Behind we chased hard but in reality made no inroads but still considering the class of the group up the front this was no surprise to me. As I said before I finally started to feel that racing kick out of the corners in the final km's so had me excited about what lays ahead for the final 2 days of the tour. I would be lying if I didn't say I expected to be doing it a little easier here but I guess in hindsight that wouldn't have been reality. The last race I did in california I finished dead last so for whatever reason I was at the bottom of my powers. Here in slovenia I am mid field so that's a significant improvement, would be nice if the trend continued as good things should be waiting for me at the next tour or race I line up in. Tomorrow is the queens stage and with 3 guys showing they are with the best on the climbs today I am sure Mr biagio conte will have something exciting planned for the 192km to the summit finish in tomorrow's stage!

Time for some tucker

Cjw

Thursday, June 19, 2014

slovenia stage 1

The tour of slovenia kicked off today with a nice little 9km TT. This distance is a bit of a curly one and I guess is like 1500m race on the track. Not quite short enough to basically go all out but if you hold to much back you quickly get left behind! Here in slovenia we have our 2 slovenian riders in kristian Koran and junior mohoric and they are keen to impress in there home tour. Much like us aussie's racing in our home races in TDU and the suntour you are always that little bit more motivated and feel a responsibility to perform infront of your friends and family. Koren as expected took all this in his stride and by days end would finish a fine 2nd in the TT just a few seconds of the phenomenon Micheal Mathews whom at the moment has no limit to the strings in his bow. Koren however was the only rider to get within a bulls roar of the charging young aussie and will have the team at his disposal over the remainder of the tour in his quest to arrive on the final GC podium. It's no surprise koren stepped up to the plate and delivered today, the guy is a natural athlete and take one look at him and if you ignored the tan lines you could picture him in any sport know to man, he really is an athletic looking chap as such seems to be fit and ready all year round wherever and whenever the team needs him, an excellent team mate.

I was pretty excited about today as getting back into a new race I could put my last one behind me!! In the end I was certainly a fair bit off the pace but none the less was a massive improvement on the last TT I pedestrian paced through. I knew it would take a +53kmph ride to win and simply tried to hold that as long as possible. Consequently I had put my ambitions, well ambitions in tt position atleast way ahead of my capabilities and with about 3km I ran out of steam big time and my speed plummeted. Still at that point was on my limit, close to 200 heart rate, and had been since the start so was happy that I was able to push my lungs and consequently my legs again unlike my last outing in california. In reality this was the main thing I needed to take out of today to give me the confidence to dig in again and board the pain train without fear on the challenging 3 stages that lay ahead of us here in slovenia. There is certainly no hiding from the fact that my TT'ing has fallen off the boil significantly in recent years and I am a little frustrated by this and need to get it back on track. The reason is pretty simple in that I don't put the work in on it and unfortunately I am not the type of athlete than can just click my fingers and be at my best in any discipline in flash. I need to work hard and arrive at a race knowing I have done the work and the fact that today was the 2nd time I have ridden the TT bike this year, also on both occasion using different bikes, I am never going to lay down anything impressive. Anyways still I had a good crack and did the best I possibly could and in the end finished where I did. Fortunately superman koren flew the green machine flag with distinction so at the end of the day was a good day for the team. I have however worked hard on the rd bike this year and as such expect to be at my usual level over the next 3 days, today's tt from a physical standpoint certainly gave me the confidence of that so am confident I will again be able to do whatever is asked of me by the team's director we have here in slovenia in biagio conte. On the TT I will get one at home and get it dialed I need to get back ontop of that before my body completely forgets how to ride fast alone. To be honest I feel at the moment like I could ride faster on a normal road bike which isn't ideal as the cannondale slice RS is an absolute missile of a bike and I want to make the most of it. I do have some exciting things planned for the off season with this exact thing in mind and in due course look forward to filling everyone in on what that's actually involves but it pretty exciting for me!

Anyways for now we have 3 days in slovenia to give it some real hurry curry. The team is off to a great here thanks to Koren so that's a positive mood to hit the feathers with and get some good rest as the Green machine here is very motivated to keep the momentum going!

CJW

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gavirate training gang!

More than a month has past since a pushed pedal in anger, in a race atleast! Well that's going to all change tomorrow when I line up for stage 1 of my maiden participation in the Tour of Slovenia. I have had a great past few weeks on the training track however as enjoyable as training is there always come a time when you want to see the fruits of your work. Staring at the SRM will be replaced by 150 dudes dressed in lycra representing all colors of the rainbow and the luxury of being in complete control of your effort will be replaced by the unpredictability of a bicycle. It's funny as the season goes on heading to races becomes less of a big deal. Around 1 week before we receive what's called the convocation official from the green machine's head offices. The official communication that's tells you who is going to be at the race for 1, staff and riders, and your travel arrangements to get there. Slovenia is relatively close to italy so we all drove to this race which is always more relaxing than the rigmoral of an airport! My suitcase for the race is always packed, we are fortunate enough in a world tour team to have an abundance of cycling gear so it's easy to designate some for training only and some for racing only. Even just getting in this routine has made heading to races so much less stressful for me, I tend to enjoy my final night at home before departure so much more which is important as you want to arrive at the race as relaxed as possible. You do not need to worry the nervs will arrive once the number goes on and the flags about to drop so until that point I have learnt over the years that in cycling you need to save as many bullets and energy as possible and there is certainly no point wasting them on being stressed before you get to the race. So having said all that the combination between my improved organizational skills and driving yo the race with one of our coolest massures in carmine, has me in good spirits ahead of tomorrow's kick off!

Following my stint in tenerife I retreated to gavirate in northern italy, my European base. I won't call it home as its certainly not like australia but when I am not home in hobart tasmania the most comfortable surrounds I find are in Gavirate, Tenerife, and more recently southern California. In all these spots I always seem to train and feel good, with the exception of the tour of california held in my miserable month of may that is!! But this peculiar period aside these 3 locations are where I will tend to gravitate towards as I have developed as many familiar surrounds as is possible 20000km from your home and like with my suitcase preparations mentioned above being in this environment certainly limits any stresses associated with a foreign environment.

Back to gavirate and this period particularly is one that look forward to most every year. As I mentioned before summer time brings europe to life and definitely in gavirate and the varese area this is perhaps even more evident. Going out each night is hard to resist as there are endless numbers of amazing restaurants and with the warm weather and long daylight hours eating outdoors becomes the norm which from my perspective is always more enjoyable. Off course the favorable weather also encourages if not more training but certainly a better quality of work for me on the training track. The pockets of the jersey are a few kg's lighter without the need to cart around the winter gear and I just generally feel a bit more spritely on the training track. The lure of enjoying a an extra hour or so in the sun often means an extra climb here and there or lap of the lake and not that's it's a strange occurrence for me but there is always a big smile on my dial at the end of each and every training sessions.

Perhaps the best part about summer rolling around in gavirate however is the arrival of all my old rowing buddies with the national team. Like clockwork almost, the day I arrived back from tenerife the rowers rolled into town to check into the Aussie institute of sport training centre for the next 3 months. It's great having them around as I still love the sport of rowing and always will. It's because of rowing I am here today and off course they add to the familiarity of my daily routine. My day always begins with a session in the ETC gym which involves around 1hr of jogging, watt bike and core work, and stretching. Once that's done the rowers are generally rolling back in from there session and I often have a few of them in the gym having a cool down stretch with me. Even though I haven't rowed for 7 years they still treat me and make me feel like I am apart of the team, I guess I always will be no matter how long I race my bike. I guess it's a small reminder of how much of an individual team sport cycling is if that makes sense! In rowing we train and see each other everyday, in cycling we seem to enjoy solitude when training them come together at races to do our job, it's been interesting to reflect and see the differences if what I personally consider two of the most team focused sacrificial sports there are. I guess the biggest difference is when you win in rowing you all go on the podium, in cycling there can only be one winner as Michele scarponi would often remind me my year racing with him! I don't think I appreciated being in daily contact with all my team mates at the time during rowing but I certainly appreciate and greatly enjoy being around all the rowers now that I am in another sport. I always probably have a better relationship with a lot more of the athletes than when I was racing and training along side them as we are no longer threats to each other. Now we stretch and share our training sessions, what we have coming up, things we are working on, ect ect. Infact often it's the rowers I look to for guidence on certain things as at the end of the day they are the ones that understand my mentality better than perhaps anyone bar aldo sassi in cycling. It's always great to have an outside perspective and like mine is of rowing now you seem to have a more subjective view of things when you are one step removed from it. From there we go our separate ways as they hit there second session and I head out on the road to my main session aswell and once 5-7hrs is in the books we re covene again in the late afternoon for a recovery session in the ice bath. While my day of training is always satisfying there is certainly an extra spring in my step beginning and ending my training days with the rowers, it truly is like I am still part of the team just I don't go near a boat!

One guy in particularly I look forward to catching up with is my good mate Drew Ginn. Drew's sporting accolades are that of an aussie legend and I am incredibly gratefull of the guidance and patience he has shown me over the years. While or sporting achievements are world's apart, one piece of common understanding we find is on the bike. Drew loves riding his bike and particularly loves hurting himself on it. It's perhaps his attitude towards his cycling that has made me appreciate just what an amazing athlete he is. While in rowing he seemed to effortlessly paddle his way to 3 Olympic gold and 1 silver, not to mention countless world titles!! The bikes is somthing that is outside his comfort zone. At around 85kg and 190cm's tall he is far from built to go fast on a bicycle, physics are simply against him! In rowing and after having subsequent discussions with drew over the years he has always been about challenging the norm and thinking outside the square to find the edge. He has continuously challenged me to do the same and repeatedly reminded my it's ok to fail but better if you if you do it in training and not racing! Drew is certainly perhaps the one I will always turn to in a moment of indecision as I know even if I try something and fail there will always be a lesson to be learned from his guidance. Anyways I could talk all day about my friendship with drew and on many occasions we have done just that, have lost count on how many times our phones have gone flat during a discussion, but I want to talk a little bit about how cool it is having him around to train with and a new episode is never far away.

I have said how great it is in gavirate at this time of the year and Saturdays training session was one of those I will always treasure. It started early, well early for me with phone call from my team mate and training buddy Ivan Basso saying he was on the bike already and headed my way so get out of bed!! It was 8:30 so not early but I am on spanish time these days so did have to wipe the sleep out of my eyes before pulling on the lycra. 10minutes later I was out the door and on my way to meet ivan. We always meet on the same road, him coming one way and me the other and it's a road of significance for me. It's the very road I first saw Ivan training in 2004 behind the motorbike, the moment that planted that seed in my brain to change to cycling and become his team mates. Again I still pinch myself each morning when we meet up often in the very spot I first saw him pedaling away some 10 years ago. Anyways today was just and easy spin and we spun around and headed for Ivan's blueberry farm which he wanted to show me. 90minutes later after a brief pitstop at perhaps the best brioche cafe in the world, cafe Bianchi and Centro gallarate where we ran into ivan's english teacher from school! That was pretty funny as she said to me I used to teach iv an english and I said yeah you did a great job so now I am teaching him tasmanian!! oh the choc brioche seriously weighs almost 1kg of warm melted fudge like chocolate! It's just incredible! Anyways after our pit stop we made it to the farm. Ivan was not pulling my leg as his blueberries were firstly the size of cherries and as crisp as an apple, absolutely amazing and I sware we consumed almost 1kg between us while his wife michaela picked as fast as possible to keep up with us! She also insisted on me taking some home and as I had no way of carting them, I was on my bike, it was decided I didn't need water for my ride home and the bottles were emptied and dully filled with blueberries! Certainly never done that before! Anyways I was just hanging with ivan, it was his first ride back after the giro and my easy day so we were just enjoying summer and the simply be out and about about on our bikes. Next ivan rode halfway home with me before I continued on to meet my buddy bryan staring who is racing world superbike's in 2014 for a piadina and a nice way to what I though would be finish of my easy 3hr ride, yeah right!

Bryan and I had the piadina, that went to plan, but then bryan asked me to knock out a lap of the lake with him. Why not I thought, sun was out and I figured the blueberries could wait a little longer before finding there way to the fridge. I had also sent drew a message inviting him to the cafe for lunch and he was on his way I thought for lunch. Sure enough drew turned up on his bike and was ready for a ride so now we were 3! I had a pretty good idea how the afternoon would turn out and sure enough my hunch was right!

It was my relaxing ride day so I didn't want to smash myself but the opportunity to ride alongside 2 athletes I greatly respect was to much for me to turn around and take my blueberries home! Besides I love riding my bike so in reality would have ridden till the sun went down if the company was good, I have done it before! Anyways we had gone 5minutes and bryan announces he wants to do a few 4minute intervals to "get the heart rate up" as he likes to call it. I thought beauty, I will sit on your wheel and do some motorpacing! I said to drew fancy hurting yourself which he replied "he'll yeah" as expected and before I knew bryan and drew were doing 50kmph full gas and almost dropping me as I scrambled to take a photo of Australia's current fastest man on 2 wheels with an engine!! And the fastest man the world has ever seen across the water in a rowing boat! Was a pretty cool moment and I didn't want to miss the chance to document it. A few things became evident from my vantage point of these 2 driven gentlemen going hammer and tongs at each other and it all lead toward pain for drew, firstly bryan was setting the pace, always easier when you know what your doing. Secondly we were doing 45-50kmph on the flat, no easy feat, go out and try and do it and you will know what I mean. And thirdly aerodynamics, drew was up like a wind sock while bryan looked like he was in a full throttle tuck down Gardner straight at Phillip island and I would imagine pushing around 150watts less than drew. Sure enough towards the end of the 2nd interval drew also retreated to bryan's wheel with me, and by the 3rd he didn't even consider sitting beside him. It was witnessing this that made me appreciate drew even more, here is a guy who will forever be a sporting legend and he was prepared to lay himself on the line having no idea what he was getting himself into knowing it would most likely end with him in extreme sufferance 30min into a 3hr ride! I just thought wow, how amazing is sport! Firstly I get to ride with these 2 absolute legends but at the end of the day we were just 3 blokes dressed in lycra out to enjoy ourselves and that's all that was important. Again I learnt a lot that day from these guys, firstly the determination with which bryan train's, man that guy can hurt himself, a secondly as Drew showed no matter how great an athlete you are never be afraid to give something a crack, again and as he has told me many times it's ok to fail so long as you do it in training!

The next few hours with drew and bryan were as enlightening as ever. We dropped bryan off along the way but between drew and I there was never a moment of silence. I greatly appreciate how much he shares with me and he always challenges my thinking on everything we discuss, no lazy answers allowed with drew! Close to the end of the ride it was decided he had suffered enough to warrant a pizza and good beer for dinner so we stopped of at my favorite joint, petit park, and decided to book the whole team in, we had both worked hard enough to warrant a treat for everyone. Oh and off course Bryan, the motoman himself was now well and truly part of the clan after his performance around the lake so he was coming aswell if he liked it or not.

So for me this was an incredible day and could not think of any better way to enjoy my relaxing enjoyable recovery ride day! 190km later, A ride that began with the rider whom has had the biggest impact on my cycling career and ended with the man whom has had the biggest impact on me during my general sporting career. With one I ate choc brioche's and picked blueberries and with the other I watched explode as he tried to keep pace with my world superbike buddy bryan. Two experiences that simply put reiterated to me how lucky I am, how sport can bring people together and give me experiences that I literally have to pinch myself everyday to realize it's not all just a dream.

CJW

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Time

Well it's summer and that means there is plenty of sunshine here in Europe!! Once the month of June roles around the continent seems to spring to life with an major boost in the general mood about the place. It seems with the longer days and extra hours of vitamine d soaking into the skin, everybody on this side of the ditch seems to have an extra spring in there step. I can say I am any different, could probably be accused of being a fair weather sailor but fortunately I have a job that allows me to literally chase the endless summer!

Since I last tapped my fingers away on my iPad I have really taken advantage of the summer time sunshine. My exercise activity time has increased, socializing taken up a significant bigger part of my time and hours with my head on the pillow has decreased as a result. No stress no doubt I will catch back up on that next time I am unfortunate enough to find myself in a climate where the daylight hours encourage me to retreat in doors again! So with the climate scene been set I will give you a little recap on what I have been up to over the past couple of weeks.

Tenerife as per usual was magnificent. I have to confess that I arrived there full of nerves and a little apprehension following my experience in California but I certainly left with the knowledge that all was back on track. Coach weber was awesome in nursing me back to my normal condition during week one in the middle of the atlantic and fortunately for me had more confidence than me that my respiratory problems would not effect me in Tenerife so cracked the whip straight away. Having said that I did hold my breath for the first minutes of my first intervals on the volcanic island and to my absolute delight my ability to board the pain train on the bicycle had returned. In California my body simply would not let me work and my heart rate tapped out at 160beats, my max this year is 210!! in the first interval back in Tenerife I hit 198!! Which was a combination of freshness from good recovery, excitement, and hard work but the underlying fact was I was free to do what I love doing again and train at my enthusiastic level.

With the system all back on track the weber set the program for my 2nd week on the island. it may come as no surprise that I simply love riding my bike. If I can be put there all day I am happy as a pig in poop! Weber knows this but is also much more intelligent than me and understands the concept of quality over quantity. So a mix of hard days and enjoyment riding days as we have started to call them mapped out a 40hour training week, a small phycological training hour barrier I like to reach during building periods like this. I trained for between 5-8hrs for 6 days and had one day in the middle for a bit of work absorbion and required catch up recovery. I don't know if it was the perfect combination between absolute lung and leg busting sessions and relaxing long days exploring the island but in the end it was by one of my most enjoyable and productive weeks on a bicycle so thanks mr weber! While I was certainly on the bike for a large percentage of the week and in bed for a larger percentage of it! The rest of the time was spent hanging in the hotel parador which is always an experience in itself whilst training Tenerife.

As usual I quickly struck up a good routine and found myself again a little institutionalized! Being there without the cannondale clan was a change however I had had some experience at this during my previous trip in April so was a little prepared. Simon Clarke had introduced me to a local legend in Julian who is an absolute dude and brilliant at organisin anything and everything you could ever need when training in Tenerife when left to your own devices. It was not only julian whom was happy to help in anyway possible but also the team staff form astana, team sky, and Saxo bank. Each day I would drop my washing off in the laundry room and my would get done with one of the teams and be dried and ready for me after dinner. Paolo slongo from Astana made sure I had a stretching mat and fitt ball, he had been my trainer for 2 years at cannondale and knew I liked these creature comforts in my room. The Saxo mechanic would give my bike a quick check over for me from time to time and it always running perfectly and the sky guys made sure all my nutrition and hydration requirements where taken care off. Basically everybody made sure I was all good and it was a great reminder of the unique little bond those whom venture to Tenerife share. So basically whatever i needed i had and back to julian he quickly had massage organized for 5 days a week and a trip down to santa Cruz to the chiropractor just make sure I was all lined up. The timing was all set up so I would return from training, shower, eat, and be on the table in time for an early dinner and early night. Only having to worry about yourself makes all this planning a little easier so big thanks to Julian for ensuring I was always in good hands. After dinner I would chill for a little while while I built up the courage for the final piece of recovery for the day! The ice bath before bed! Each evening the waiters would have a bucket ready for me to fill up with ice around 9:30 to lug back upstairs and pour in my already cold bath. From there I would hold my breath, jump in, grab my trusty iPad and watch a Floyd Mayweather Junior documentary or other boxing legend doco to keep my mind of my legs turning into ices bricks! Ten minutes later I was done and it was finally for bed, for some reason the ice bath at that time of the day not helped my recovery but also put me to sleep pretty quick so was a good little exercise. 

When the alarm went off in the morning I again had a ROUTINE! I reall enjoy a light jog first up in the morning and when amongst the fresh crisp thin air of Tenerife it even more enjoyable. After 30min of walk/plod I would be back for a little bit of core, summer time is not the time to neglect your abs! Infect it the time to work even harder on the beach body! A quick stretch and shower and it was time for breaky and my favorite meal of the day. The chef would have my salmon and tomato ommelette with a side of avocado always ready to go when I entered the dining hall at 9am. Before sitting down I would go into the kitchen where jamila would have the blender set up for me and make my morning smoothie. With the arrival of summer I like to cool down the core system before a long hot day in the saddle. My smoothies are something take very seriously have refined them over the years. My latest incarnation is a combination of protein powder, ice, yogurt, a banana, honey, and a yakult! It is um um um delicious! Once armed with my morning smoothie it's back to the dinning hall to tuck into some Tucker and have a chin wag with the other boys staying in the hotel. It seems every time I go I get to know a different rider a little better and this time it was the Astana combo of westra, fugslang and kessikoff whom I spent most of my time gas bagging to. With the tummy topped up it was time to board my cannondale evo for what always ended up being an enjoyable long hot day in the canary island sun! So that was pretty much my routine, a very enjoyable one and when I finally boarded the plane for my return to Italy as always I had a nice big satisfied smile on my dial. 

Once back in Italy I had a chat with my team director Stefano Zanatta where it was decided that I have a small schedule change with replacing to tour de Swiss with the tour of slovenia. I was pretty happy about this as I have never been to Slovenia and only heard amazing things about the place. Added to that anybody who has done the 4 day race has raved about it so I am excited to hit the roads over there next week with my Slovenian team mates in junior mohoric and kristian Koran.as always your performance in races in June tends to have a significant impact on the racing you will do in july and through to the end of the year so as with every race, tour of Slovenia will be an important outing!!

Cjw