Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
After the race i travelled home with basso to varese. I probably burnt his ears off with the billions of qustions i asked but it is a rare opportunity to learn from one of the greatest cyclists to ride in the pro peleton. With all the questions i asked the trip was over pretty quick and next stop was pizza and a beer with my mate Will Walker and his fiance Chiara Sassi. They took me to a bar first for tappas italian style and it was incredible. Conveniently the brought out a massive pasta plate which you eat from with a tooth pick one shell at a time so this not only kept me entertained constantly fishing into the bowl for pasta but also refueled my muscle with all the energy i used in the race. I never thought going to the local bar could be such a great recupperatian activity!! It is such a swet deal, you simply by a bear or beverage of your choice for as little as 3euro and then you are entitaled to what i lickened to and all you can eat buffet of italy's most beuatiful food, meats, cheeses, pasta, break, fruit, salad, pizza, you name it this joint had it. Once tappered out we went for a pizza and i headed home to sleep off what was a very enjoyable and satisfying day.
Today i finally resumed normal training> Since arriving in europe i was here there and everywhere and it was nice to be able to wake up and have my favourite breaky delights and head out for some solid training. The great thing about the varese area is there is no shortage of great training partners. Today as with most days i headed for training with basso. We live about 20km appart so conveniently if we leave home at the same time we pretty mush meet each other exactly half and then continue on our way. This 10km journey is a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. I leave from my little town of gavirate where i currently stay while in europe and head along the road beside the lake. First i pass the rowing club i spent so many hrs, follow the rd beside the rowing course i lapped up and down and up and down over the years. Next i pass the hotel continental which is where we stayed on those long stints with the rowing team, next up is the monate lake which is also another lake with a rowing course and offered an alternative training venue when a change from lago varese was required and also and excellent swimming venue for those sweltering summer days. A km or so later at the end of monate lake in the town of vergiate i meet Ivan Basso, the man largly responsible for inspiring me to try cycling and be where i am today. So it is s great daily reminder of where i have come from and some time to relect and cherrish the opportunities i have had through sport and more particually what a significant part this varese region has played in my sporting developedment and life. Upon meeting Ivan and with the legs starting to warm up the day dreaming ends and it is time for us to get to work. Somewhere between 3 and 6hrs later depending on what the daily programm entails we say goodbye in the same spot and i can day dream and ponder my home to gavirate and everyday i get home i am already excited about waking up the next morning and doing it all over again.
I am certainly a man of routine so it is nice to be back into one.
Friday, February 11, 2011
In the car now and will be home in gavirate in a couple of hrs. Tonight I am off to a very special place for dinner on the passo cuvignone. This is a climb I know all too well as it is aldo sassi's favourite testing ground for his athletes and an important testing ground in the culture of italian cycling. I am looking forward to enjoying a relaxing meal at the trattoria close to the top of the climb as appose to the lung busting threshold efforts I am usually enduring on the climb. Those efforts will come soon enough but tonight and this weekend its time to relax!
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
I took my usual flight with emirates which offers me the best connection from aus to Europe. It is a 13hr flight to dubai which I never notice thanks to the effectiveness of stillnox. During the 3hr connection in dubai I hit the gym for a quick 1hr on the bike and some core and stretching to negate the effects of the travel before boarding the plane again for the comparatively short 6hrs direct to Milan. This time I took the opportunity to watch the social network which I must say is a jolly good film. Upon arriving in Milan at 7:45pm I was collected by my very good Italian pal and expert motor pacer matteo and we raced off for tea at my favourite restaurant in the world, marco and roberto’s trattoria. With some great tucker as usual on board and a welcome return to delights of Italian cuisine It was finally time for a good night sleep which I was in need of following the travel. I woke up Tuesday morning and was on the bike at 8:30am in order to meet my team mate Ivan Basso for some training. Upon getting going I was greeted by 0 degree temperature but thankfully sun and not rain but shock none the less after having enjoyed 25 degree training condition the day before on mt wellington in Hobart. I met ivan and having not seen each other for 6 weeks we had a lot to catch up on and before I knew it I had logged 4hrs 30min which is not what I would normally do the day after a long flight. Time with Ivan always goes pretty quick with Ivan as as they say time fly's when you are having fun and i am always learning somthing which is cool, he has alot of experience not surprizingly. Anyway in the afternoon a logged another 1 hr and also 30min in the gym as I train twice a day for the first 2 days to have the eyes in the sunlight to help with the time zone changes. Also it keeps you awake as at about 4pm you are usually falling asleep on your feet. Whizzing along the rd thankfully keeps you awake and the body adjusts faster. I woke up fresh as a daisy on Thursday which was a pleasant surprize as I was pretty confident I had over cooked it the day before but all seemed good. I completed another 2hrs 30min in the am and the same in the afternoon so another 5hrs down and was felt like I had already adapted time zones which pleased me no end. Friday I travelled with team director alberto volpi to Tuscany and did 90min with my team mates to freshen up for the race on Saturday.
The race was a great success for the team with our sprinter Elia Viviani taking the victory and with it the first victory of the year for Liquigas-Cannondale. It was a huge buzz to be on the start line in Italy wearing the liquigas kit, not only is Italy arguably the heart of cycling but to be in one of the world’s best and italy’s best team was a great moment for me. All Italian races are super important for all Italian teams so after a well detailed team meeting we headed to the start line with a very clear direction of what to do for the next 185km. The race went pretty stock standard for Italian races with a flurry of attacks in the initial km’s which all usually come back until we settle of a nice small break more easy to control. In the end 3 riders were set free and with 150km to race they had a lead of 9min. At this point myself and team mate timmy duggan went to the front to start riding them back along with 3 colnago riders. We had to set a pretty solid tempo due to the size of the escapees lead but this suited me just fine. The race was a great opportunity for some training for me and wanted to make sure I had a hard day at the office. We swapped of for the next 120km doing 2km turns which worked great as it meant having about 8min recovery. This meant a high wattage could be sustained which for me was 450-500watts while on the front with 30km remaining the lead was down to 2min. At this point we hit a 4km climb which on paper suggested attacks would come from the bunch. Sure enough none other than 2004 Giro d italia winner Damiano Cunego launched the first move which I was forced to up the tempo on the front of the bunch to ride him back. Once I had him reeled in Steffan Schumacher had a go and was quickly followed by another 10 riders including 2 team mates so I relaxed to jump in the peleton. Unfortunately I had not realised the peleton was by this stage spread all over the climb and we were clear so I had to jump in this group also. Having the advantage of numbers I went to the front and drove this group but soon more attacks went and as often as is the case in Italy eventually everyone started to look at each other and see what would happen next. By this time we were over the climb and the frantic speed of the chasers had them back on pretty quick and it was all going to come down to a bunch sprint. Analysing the SRM data showed that for the 12min climb I averaged 455watts which for me is probably record fr this amount off and considering the work I had done on the front for the previous 120km I was pleasantly surprized. Back to the front I went for one final pull to get the chase organised again before our rd team captain denial oss pulled me off to save our juice for the closing km’s. With For the final 15km kept our remaining 8 fresh riders up the front and out of harm’s way by setting up a train beside to still tirelessly working calnago. With Colnago tiring and the break reeled in our 8 fresh lads stormed to the front with 5km to go and in the process upping the pace by around 10km/ph and never looked back. With each rider burying himself then pulling off we still had 3men on the front with 500 to go and by the time Peter Super Sagan did the final lead out not only did alia have plenty of time to celebrate but Peter calmly rolled across the line without breaking into a sprint. Was a great day for the team and certainly one of the most satisfying I have been apart off and I will forever remember my first race in Italy with liquigas-cannondale. For me being in a new team it is important to show you are prepared to sacrifice all you can for your team captains success. This can only be displayed in a race so I was super greatfull I could display this to the team so early in the year. Anything to help blend into your new environment is always a good thing and for me helping others achieve success is truly something a greatly enjoy. Fact and figures for the race were as follows
Time 4hr 36min
Watt Av 304.5, my highest power average for a race!!!
Heart Rate AV 140bpm
Altitude Gain 1750m
Energy Exp 5000calories
A pretty solid day as I had wished for at the office.
So with the race out of the way today it was time to get stuck into our classics preperations training camp and also wrap up a big week for me. Today we completed another 5hrs 30min or 185km on the bike and I then had another 1hr in the gym for some abs core and stretching. With 5 out of 7 days on the bike in excess of 5hrs and 20000km of aeroplane travel thrown in for good measure I am ready for a nice long sleep.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
For me it was an amazing experience to partake in the tour down under. In 2007 Jess and I travelled to Adelaide to watch the race and meet with Cycling Australia’s Kevin Tabotta about my options in the cycling world. At the time I was deciding whether to go all into cycling or stick with rowing and took the opportunity to see if watching the great cyclist race stirred something inside me to have a crack at it myself. On this occasion jess and I watched the Willunga stage on a day where tasmania’s Karl Menzies held the overall Leaders Jersey. We watched the riders role though the town of Willunga before walking up the hill to watch them on arguably the most famous part of the race. Watching the riders that day certainly stirred something in me and new that one day I wanted to in that peleton racing up Willunga. I remember seeing fellow Tassie boys Wez Sulzberger and of course Karl Menzies and just wanted to be on the bike racing with them. The atmosphere that day was just amazing and was really my first experience watching a live professional bike race. 4 Years on and I was finally in that peleton when it hit the slopes of Willunga hill. It was a special moment for me and to crest the summit on the second accent in the front of the peleton alongside Matt Goss, Cam Meyer, Mick Rogers, and simon Gerrans to name a few, all guys I have a massive amount of admiration for was quite a nice feeling. Not only That but all those that but having my Mum, Auntie, Jess’s Mum and Dad Pete and jenny, And close family friends bryan and Anne Hornsey at the top of the climb screaming there encouragement for me just as I had done for wez and karl in 07 will stay with me as a very special memory. Jess also had a bit of change of viewing the race as she rode in the team car for the Willunga stage which she loves doing. My Dad and His partner Kell were Perched on the final Finish straight in a corporate area consuming South Australia’s finest cuisine and wine while watch the race on the big screen and certainly made it clear after wood that while sitting on the banks of a rowing course can be enjoyable, they are certainly happy following my cycling events, My Performance in the race certainly far from spectacular and I would describe as very conservative left me in 26th position on the general classification so still a lot of improvement needed. For me however after the past couple of years of Illness and lack of confidence in my body it was a good sign that I am starting to find my rhythm again and also nice to finish further toward the front than the back for a change. It was certainly on a whole a nice way to kick of 2011 and one race I won’t forget in hurry. It was a great week and I just feel real happy that I was able to share it with all those whom have supported me and I am so close to. Having such great support from family and friends certainly makes me enjoy what I do so much more.
The organisation of the race was second to none I have experienced in any sporting arena I have seen. In my opinion it had many similarities to the Olympics, great hotel, every tiny detail covered down to police escorts to the race start ensure we all arrived on time without stress or panic, Coca Cola fridges filled with water, coke, juice, and powerade which is certainly big trademark of the Olympics, the most helpful staff you could imagine at the Hilton hotel in central Adelaide where we resided for the week, and of course an army of volunteers that went out of there way to do anything they could. Then off course the top athletes of the sport which were headlined by none other than one of the greatest sportsman to walk the planet, Lance Armstrong, whom ensured a good show was put on for the hundreds of thousands of the worlds best supporters wherever we went. The organisers of the tour down under have certainly created one of not only the best sporting events in the Australia but what many say as one of the best sporting events in the world.
With the conclusion of down under it was home to Hobart for 1 more week before heading back to Europe for the first part of my season which takes me through to paris Roubaix. It gave me the opportunity to also check out my favourite training ground Mt Wellington a few times to admire the view and remind myself of how lucky I am to call Hobart my home. From the top I can see so many of my life’s experiences, the home I was born and raised in and all the others I have lived in including my current residence, My old school, the university I attended, the river I spent so many hrs rowing up and down and off course the landscape which I work on currently everyday on my bike. It is a magnificent view and one that never ever gets boring. Aside from training I got all my admin tasks done, caught up with friends, and had the honour of attending my good mate Sam Beltz and his beautiful now wife Emma’s wedding. Has been a very eventful and exciting summer for me and I am looking forward to the next phase of the year in Europe.