Saturday, September 21, 2013

Back to the Bunch

Back in the swing of thing today in tuscany with the GP Donaratico. After a nice easy week of recovery which included 3 days of complete rest and 7hrs in total on my bike, I was ready to feel the burn when the flag dropped today! It was a real strange feeling racing a race other than the vuelta.

For 3 weeks it had become my world, this moving bubble doing a lap around spain. This week it was back to the real, cooking for yourself (actually I think I went out for dinner every night but still if I stayed home I would have had to cook for myself!!) Doing your own washing, making your own bed, and even having to drive yourself around! All these things that had just happened for you for the best part of a month were now up to you. Luckily I enjoy all these things and always get excited about getting home to these mundane tasks, still its a bit of an adjustment.

Well going to a different race is much the same!! All of a sudden the roads have a different feel, the colours of the teams are different, and the general feel of the bunch is just different. In fact the only similarity was the piercing pain of my cracked rib! I had had a great week of recovery and rehab and it has felt much much better. Surprize surprize once you stop racing you recover better!! Well I felt that great that I did not even want any painkillers this morning but realized that was a big mistake after about 2km of racing!! Anyways this was the least of my concerns. I was re adapting to racing my bike away from the vuelta bubble so that took my mind away from the pain for a bit as it was full blast for the first 30km. Infact one nice feeling I had occurred early on in the race when I glanced at my speedo and it said 48kmph I thought it must have been broken. I stared at it for a minute or so and it floated between 47-52kmph and still I felt like we were cruising. It was the most accustomed to race speed I have ever felt so was now getting excited for the day ahead. The pace stayed high and finally a small group headed off in the days break and things calmed down. At this point that searing pain returned so I went back to the race doc and grabbed a pain killer, I had been defeated again by this rib! Anyways settled into the bunch and waited for the painkiller to kick in. Basso was back today so that meant we were up the front so that made life a lot more relaxing in the bunch, I like being up there so I always know what's going on. Saves a lot of energy firstly mentally and as a result physically.

So with the race settled down gave me a chance to adapt again to the group and particularly all the different colours! I am glad I don't have epilepsy as it was really quite an optical distraction today particularly when the group was flying down the decents. In time the eyes adjusted and before we knew it we were on the final 30km circuits we were to complete twice and it was time to start racing. Each lap was characterised by a 3km steep narrow rd climb which was always going to decimate the peleton. As always our plan was to have Ivan, Caruso and Ratto at the front for the start of the climb, from there they would easily look after each other. Longo locomotive borgini and hair raising heado again piloted our captains to the perfect position at the start of the climb. I was rendered pretty much useless in this job when crunch time came as I had a flat rear tyre. To compound the problem there was a crash behind and the cars were way way behind. By the time the car got to me I have no idea where the front of the race was but I knew it was a long way ahead of my current position and scattered all over the place, I quickly realised I was spot on with my assumption!!

So now I was really annoyed and started the chase back to the race. I had not endured 3 weeks racing around spain to not make the most of the racing condition it had given me. On the climb I started to pick up some groups and eventually found my way back to what I believe must have been the 2nd main group on the road. It had been a 20+km all out effort to get to that point and had well and truly cooked my goose getting. The front of the race rarely slows down in the final 30km, you can lose time very very quickly. I was simply happy to be back in the race of sorts and in the end I was simply happy I would race the full distance. I felt great, just had to use my energy in a useless manner but that's ok, its important to know how the body feels and I am now really excited about the races in the final part of the year. The fracture is still playing tricks on my mind and keeping me in self preservation mode and not taking any risks but that will pass soon enough and I will be back racing 100% in the near future. Caruso and Basso played a perfect support role for Ratto who seemed to be at his scintillating best today then he would also succumb to an untimely flat tyre. He was on the attack and looked set for the big result when his rear rim decided it proffered to be on rolling along the road as oppose to the tyre and his race win hope went flat there and then!!

So in the end it was not a great way for the cannondale pro boys. I was annoyed when I flatted but at that point 40km from the finish I have no idea where I might of ended up had all gone perfectly. Ratto on the other hand really got robbed. He was right royally annoyed at the finish and that's because he truly believed he was in for a great showing. Again a harsh reminder of how quickly the switch can turn the lights out on your race ambitions in a flash! Flat tyres 9/10 times are no drama and you forget them quickly but when they really ruin your day its a hard pill to swallow, ratto will bounce back and as I said to him after the race what's important he was in the winning position, somtimes lady luck just decides to slap you in the face.

Up front Lampre took domination to a whole new meaning with 1-2-3. I was happy to see michele scarpa scarponi win. I was team mates with him in 2010 and working for really opened a lot of doors for me and my career afterward. He is a leader that always respects his team mates and you can go back to my blogs from 2010 to see what I think of michele, he was a great rider to work for. He is always the joker of the bunch, a real funny looking character and with it very charismatic. He will always make a point of saying hello and is the type of rider that a short chat will always put a smile on your face, he seems to always be able to make light of any situation and brighten up any moment in the race. So was nice to see him win. Also the Italian team showed that they are going to be a real force to be reckoned with on sunday in the elite mens road race. 1st through 5th today, that's a pretty impressive showing from over half the team. Also there leader Vincenso had looked the likely winner just a couple of km's before the finish when he was hauled in by the small select chase group, so that's the 7th rider! Tomorrow we will get to have a look at the italians on the katusha team so I am sure after todays emphatic showing by the other members of there road squad they will be feeding the peleton a lot of chain around the streets of prato!!

With that being said I better take some harden up pills and get some rest. I will also knock out a few pages of sean kelly's book, he was a real hardman so I am sure to find a good tale from there to give me a little more grinter for tomorrow! If scarponi is the charactor of the peleton the Dario our Director sportivo at this race is definitely the character of the team managers! He always fills the team with enthusiasm so looking forward to his pre race briefing in the morning before we head into battle. Certainly enjoying this time of the year and racing my bike, misshaps are all apart of the game, days like today just make the good all the more special.

CJW     
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