The TDU kicked off good and proper today and with it the 1st day of world tour racing for 2014. Fortunately as the years go on I get a little less nervous for the first day on the field of battle each year, having said that the suffering of the first road race of the year never gets any easier. Todays stage of 135km was relatively flat until a nasty little 2.6km climb 15km from the finish to spark some life and excitement into the peleton. Being a shortish stage again 2 things were certain, a lot of stress and nervs in the bunch, and a very frantic pace in the final half of the race. As seems to be the case every year a small breakaway of 2 skipped up the road and the peleton was happy to have a relatively easy day of controlling such a small group and quickly gave them a gap. Our plan was pretty simple today, keep george and I as close to the as possible when the action started and should elia make it over the climb in the front set him up for the sprint. Having said that with the break gone we settled in for our first day at the office for 2014!
The first half of the race followed the script as the group kept the 2 escapees in check. This gave everybody a chance to gets the legs spinning along and warmed up for inevitable injection of pace in the final half of the race. Sure enough that's exactly what happened. As we hit around 70km to go the pace ramped and with it the stress in the bunch. No matter how race days I have done in the past I always seem to forget just how hard it is to fight for position. No worries you say to yourself, I will just wait for the road to open up and trundle up to the front whenever I want?? Yeah right! Sounds good in theory but unfortunately the other 150 riders in the bunch have the same idea and there is no road that I have ever raced on all around the world the can comfortably accommodate 150 riders side by side! Fortunately cannondale is a team that has a lot of experience in this area so like the rest of the season, when this chaos begins I simply trust our pilots.
Before the race got crazy its common that the peleton will stop for a little nature break. On this occasion I happened to pull up along side my buddy in the bunch, the legend himself, Jensie! Naturally jensie wanted to have a chat while we glanced out across the vineyards of the barossa valley and naturally I was more than happy to have a chat with him. We were both staring at some vines full of grapes that looked far from healthy. Jens evently said "cameron, do you think they forgot to pick those grapes?" I took a closer look and responded "yes jens, I think there is a very good chance that that is exactly what's happened" "they don't look so healthy do they?" "No Cameron said jens, they don't look too good!" At this point we both realised we were meant to racing and while the pace had slackened we still had to chase back on and we were on the road side gas bagging about the condition of grapes in this particular vineyard! Naturally we all of a sudden jumped on our bikes and pedalled frantically back to the bunch before we turned into a pair of dried grapes standing there by the road side! While we did ensure we got back the bunch before continuing our conversation we did get straight back into our discussion once safely at the front of the peleton. We were both a little confused about how saltanas are grown? We wondered if they leave the grapes on the vines longer than they do for wine grapes? I must look that up now as you can bet your bottom dollar jens will ask me about it when I get down to dinner!! Anyways just a little tale from the bunch with my hero jensie! One like all the others I won't forget in a hurry!
Back to the race and the pace was on for young and old. Boivin our canadian cannonball was doing a perfect job keeping a front position and allowing george and I to be where we needed to be and protected from the wind at the same time. Mattias, alberto, and wonder kid junior matty mohoric were also right there to keep us out of trouble should we get into it. On the run into the final climb krisek was particularly prominent and made sure there was no chance george and I would be out of position. Elia was showing as usual how fantastic of a teammate he is as he ensured in the final km before the crucial right hand turn onto the final climb he used his sprinting positioning skills to once and for all let george and I set sail on the days major climb. All the boys did everything and more asked of them and without them staying in the front group would have been considerably more difficult.
On the run into the climb the adrenaline was flowing. We all knew the climb had the potential to make or break your TDU and everyone was a little curious to see how they would shape up on the first test of the race. Although the boys had me in the perfect posi I was paying the price for it being my first road race of the season. Before we even started the climb it was full blast in a light crosswind which is never overly easy to ride in regardless of your position in the bunch.
As a consequence my heart rate was bang on 200 beats per min before as we turned right onto the start of the 2.8km climb!! Naturally my heart rate did not have much of a chance to drop back down as the race was now on in ernest! Fortunately the climbs are little more where I feel comfortable and while my heart rate stayed through the roof it strangely felt a little easier. By the top of the climb my heart was pounding away at 206 so I reckon if you taped a couple of beaters to my chest I could have whipped up a bowl of whipped cream! I survived the climb and over the top I used the fact I was close to the front to my advantage and drifted back through the group a bit to recover. In the end my heart rate stayed above 200 for 12minutes which I believe is record for me so I am please to know that I am nice and frest for one and able to push myself to the limit aswell. Although I was seeing crosseyed I was happy with the fact that the off season had not allowed me to forget how to push myself deep into the pain cave!
So I survived the climb and made it to the decent. Finally I was able to bring myself out of cardiac arrest and get my pulse below 190 for the final 5km charge to the line. To be honest all I was thinking about was not getting dropped on the run into the finish. The thought of even sticking the slightest sliver of my body into the wind made me feel physically sick. I had well and truly been belted from pillar to post as is always the case on the first race back of every season and was simply happy to cross the finish line in front group. Fingers crossed the body will be well and truly shocked back into road racing mode now and I will to spend a little less time chewing on my handle bars for the rest of the week!
Time 3hrs 30min
Ave power 222 watts
Ave Heart rate 140 BPM
Max power 1000 watts
Max Heart Rate 206 BPM
KCal Burnt 2900
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