Friday, 5 June 2009
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Bordiu, Abanico (Por); Echelon (Fr,Eng): This an aerodynamic formation made by cyclists when there is a cross wind. It means that the rider in this formation are protected and can rest, before taking their turn to drive the whole fomation forward.
Grupetto (Por, Sp, It, Fr, Eng): I think this is pretty much international. When the roulleurs and sprinters get dropped in the mountains by the GC riders and climbers they form a defensive group to try limit their losses and arrive at the finish within a certain pre determind percentage of the arrival time of the winner.
Echapé (Fr), Fugitivos, Fuga(Por), Break Away(Eng): This the name given to any cyclists that escape out the front of the main bunch.
Types of Cyclist:
Gregario (Por,Sp,It); Domestique (Fr,Eng): This a cyclist who work so that another may win, or may win more easilly, or insure a victory, without nessesarilly wining themselves. A good analogy or way to understand this is if you draw a paralel with defenders in football. Famous gregarios:Roulleur (Fr,Eng); Rolador (Por,Esp): This a cyclist who specializes in roling or flat terrain. They are generally big quite heavy and powerful and can maintain very high speeds for long durrations of time. These cyclist specialize in break aways or controling the front of a race. Famous rouleurs include Jens Voigt, George Hincapie, Andreas Tafi, Vytcheslav Ekimov, etc.
Climber (Eng); Trepador (Por): As the name implies, these a cyclist who specialize in climbing moutains. These cyclists are extremelly light weight. Weighing between 50-65kgs, while generally being quite tall. Famous climbers include Marco Pantani, Ivan Parra, Robert Millar, etc.
Completo (Por,Esp); All Rounder (English): These are the riders that can win stage races, they do everything well, especially climbing and time trialling. They are noted for their recovery from one day to the next. Famous all-rounders include Lance Armstrong, Bernard Hinault, Joaquim Agostinho, etc.
Sprinter (every where): Like in track and field, but imagine someone sprinting at the end of 1500m as they are nothing to do with 100m and 200m runner and are in themselves thoroughbred endurance athletes, merelly carrying a few more fast twitch muscle fibers. Famous sprinters: Mario Cippolini, Eric Zabel, Mark Cavendish, Adjamoulin Abdoujaparov
Director Desportivo (Por,Esp); Directeur Sportiff (Fr, Eng): A sporting direstor in cycling is like a manager in football. It's a hands on job and involves knowing the riders very wel, as to get the best out of them. A team director also must make the team to collude and work together. They are usually the boss in the team and determine tactics to a large extent. Famous Directors: Patric Lefevre, Bijarne Riis,
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Classica Vila do Conde:On Saturday as part of a mixed professional and amateur team, I raced a fantastic little race known as Classica Vila do Conde. The Portuguese calendar is full of these "1.12" ranked races or "clandestinas" as they're called, toungue in cheek by the cyclists. Many complain they are not mediatic or serious enough, to justify their time. I like them a lot, as are a fantastic school of cycling and tremendous fun.
This race was on an easy circuit, with one hard climb. This was a short climb, but steep and on cobble stones. Infact there were cobbled sections through out the circuit, spicing up an otherwise easy event. The climb was too short to cause any real damage with any of the splits that occured quickly being annuled by my team. This meant that entering the finishing 2.5km circuit around the town we were guarunteed a sprint finish. And through Cândido Barbosa we won the race.
Memorial Bruno Neves:
This race was a memorial, to a cyclist who died during "Classica Amarante" just under a year ago. I was perhaps two wheels away when I saw Bruno Neves fall. It was something so inocuous, I presumed it was just a silly clipping of wheels with a nervous under-23. As it happened, it was a sudden cardiac arrest something which some young people are lyable to suffer and athletes more so, due to "myocardial hypertrophy" (if my memory serves me right); abnormal growth of the heart muscle.
The race was 155km on a very hilly ~30km cicuit with an abundance of pot holes, round abouts and tricky corners. Not my kind of race being hilly and technical.
Early in the race the pack was split with a massive group going of the front. I was one of the last to bridge across. Four of my team mates unfortunatly found themselves on the wrong side of the divide, but we were reasonably well represented in this numerous group of about 25, with three.
Liberty Seguros quickly siezed control of this group and promptly put the "peleton" chasing behind out of the race. And then began what for me was a slow death, kilometer after kilometer in the heat on these infernal roads, with well trained climbers making me and my new motor pay for over 3 weeks of not training properly.
There was another split forced by Liberty, 60 km from the end, 9 riders of the front. I probably had the legs to go with them, in terms of speed. But I bonked (bonking in cycling refers running out of glycogen; fuel) so it would have done little good to be up the front.
However my team mate Henrique Casimiro was up there and nearly won the race against the formidable Liberty squad. He came in 2nd, all of his own doing as there was no one there to lend him a hand in the last 45km.
Saturday, 4 April 2009
This race was very tough. Most of my team are based in the Algarve, one of the warmest, sunniest places in Europe. The Basque country on the other hand is basicly northern Europe. It was cold enough to hail, but not so cold that we avoided getting wet. The scenery was dramatic and beautiful. We raced through the green Pirenean foot hills, over hung with clouds and a snow line only a few meters further up.
We placed a man in the break away; Alejandro Marque. He was acompanied by two local Basque men riding in the colours of Euskaltel-Eusquadi, but still managed to win the "sprints especias" and "metas volantes" classifications, with only the mountains classification escaping his grasp. The best over all from our team was André Cardoso in 9th possition.
I was pathetic in this race and disappointed becuase up to this point I had been having an excelent season. I did not finish and was quite eaten up with disapointment and wondering why I was particularly weak.
Volta ao Alentejo:
I was very aprehensive about this race given my peformance a couple of days before in Llodio. But I went with the full intention of doing my absolute best for my team. But it turned out I was infact quite sick, as I got a fever on the 5th that lasted another 2 days.
Stage One; Vila Nova de Milfontes-Odemira, 159km :
Constant breakaway atempts were made for the first 2 hours of the race. The pace was incredibly high, a 50kph average speed. The terrain was the beautiful but desolate south western corner of the Alentejo. I didn't see much scenery, mainly just the wheel in front of me. The pack split going through a particularly hilly area between São Teotonio on the coast and Saboia inland. I and three team mates closed this gap, as in our company was Cândido Barbosa, one of our team leaders. The front group raced along at top speed. They wanted to gain as much of an advantage over pre-race favourite Hector Guerra. He had been issolated in my "chase" group, left without any team mates to help him.
Three riders had mean while got away, Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel, Glen Chadwick (NZl) Rock Racing and Vitaliy Kondrut (Ukr) ISD. Palmeiras resort/Prio/Tavira, Liberty Seguros and Madeinox/Boavista were put to work to reduce their lead, but a moment too late and the break succeded. With Maxime Bouet winning the stage and siezing the yellow, leaders jersey. The average speed was an incredible 45kph.
Stage Two; Ferreira do Alentejo – Montemor-o-Novo, 209.9km:
This was the longest stage in the race 209.9km conecting Ferreira do Alentejo and Montemor-o-Novo. It headed out mile after mile across the seemingly endless plains of the Alentejo. Agritubel controlled the race from start till 20km from the end, the only eventful ocasion being the suicide escape by two riders early in the stage. My team and I siezed control of the race on the on categorized climb in the race and quickly killed the breakaway and any atempts there after. We pulled the race along at 55-60kph for the next 5km till just before Montemor, at this point I droped of, spent. This left just the quick and the strong of my team in comand, to launch a sprint for our up and coming sprinter Samuel Caldeira. He duelly won the stage.
He was disqualified from his first ever international victory. A Liberty Seguros rider, Filipe Cardoso made a protest saying his sprint was "irregular" and that he was blocked. I make no coment but include the following picture and ask: Did the protesting rider have enough space to come past? It's worth noting that the finishing straight was 150m long of a wide, fast, left hand turn and therefore everyones tragetory was slightly "curved".
This was stage was the defining moment in the race. A 19km time trial. It was won by possibly the best time trialist in Portugal, Hector Guerra. Tavira's hopes lay with David Blanco. Also a fantastic time trialist. David arrived home in 6th possition. He lost the race in the first 7-8km on a long flat road with a tail wind. However, despite his chain falling and a couple of missed apexes he lost no time on the harder, more technical part of the course.
My race was a "rest" day, I was under orders and even followed by the boss to make sure I rested up and kept everything bellow threshold, so I could be put to work in the mountains the next day. I lost three minute. Which left me quite chuffed.
Stage 4: Alter do Chão - Nisa, 164.7km:
This was the "queen" stage, consisting of 6 categorized climbs. Including the infamous "Cabeço do Mouro" familiar to any rider who has riden for a Portuguese team. This stage was bound to be attacked, as Hector Guerra had only a slim lead on the race.
I responded to the first attacks and was in the front group when I imbecilicly cliped wheels with rider in front, lost my balance and drove into the ditch smashing the front wheel to pieces and doing a double sommersault, eventually landing on my face. I was left with a few grazes on my face and I wasn't particularly worried, but was withheld from continuing with the race by the team doctor, whom was playing it safe as I was complaining of sore balls, after a near crotch impact with some part of the bike. Apparently testicular trauma can be quite serious. And even a niggle warrants caution. Thankfully all is ok, injury wise with only a few scrapes on the face. Potentially worrying had I been born beautiful.
As predicted the race split to pieces in the tha mountains and my team had all our team leaders in the front group and two sprinters. Cândido Barbosa won the stage with my team mates all with raised arms crossing the line. A fantastic sight.
We later celebrated with some espumante and although sad I my poor performance, I was so pleased with our victory.
Stage 5, Vendas Novas – Évora, 169.4km:
A school boy error... I didn't follow this race as I went the masseuse whom I thought was going to hand up food at a midway point in the stage. Instead, I just saw the finish. It was a cobbled climb about 300m long, but easy enough for a sprint victory which is exactly what happened, thanks to my team mates controling things for Cândido Barbosa, who made it two stages and points jersey!
Friday, 27 March 2009
This race is a "classic" in the purest meaning of the word. This race is going into it's 60th edition, first being held in 1949.
Classics are one day races, usually very long and very difficult. They dawn from a time when race organiser wanted the most dramatic and difficult course, designed to break the riders and create as much drama as possible. They tend to be either "hilly classics" or "northern classics" northern usually being in the wind and rain and over cobble stone sections.
Unusually, the two Portuguese teams involved are both Algarvean; Palmeiras Resort/Prio/Tavira and C.C Loulé/Louletano/Aquashow. The previous winner of this event, Hector Guerra rides for the Liberty Seguros squad, how ever they don't appear to be racing.
All the information about this race can be found here:
Volta ao Alentejo:
This is a normal road race, over five days through the Alentejo. It's highly ranked though, at 2.1, which is the same as the Tour of Britian for example. This race passes some beautiful scenery, especially in the hills near Portalegre.
On the third stage is a time trials. Which will probably determine the winner. Last year David Blanco came in second in the time trial and won the green points jersey.
I hope this year, will be as successful as the previous and that the weather is better also.
All the information on this race can be found here:
Monday, 23 March 2009
Following on two days later we have the"Volta ao Alentejo" a 2.1 ranked race, or the highest ranking in our calendar bar the "Volta a Portugal". Again I suspect we will be combative, but I am also fully aware there will be many other strong teams with powerful riders.
This is all rather exciting and I sincerly hope I can do a decent job. I am quite aware how hard these races will be and know that my form has taken a bit of a dip, probably by training a little too hard. I hope the hard training will have paid of and that I recover strong for this block.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
The race was not straight forward. It is a fast, short and technical race, with many chances for time bonifications. We had to kill every break away and prepare a sprint every time there was a meta volante, which was often. Of course 10 guys against 110 is always going to make for difficult racing, but the sittuation was adequatly controled, alowing Samuel Caleira to take victory.
It was an impressive lesson in team work. We were greatlly helped along by the fact Cândido Barbosa, with an impresive 101 professional victories in his palmares, was able to guide us and tell us what to do and when.
Monday, 2 March 2009
On Saturday and Sunday we are racing the "Volta a Albufeira" a tight, sinous and dangerous race, around the little "concelho" - something like a council, of Albufeira. The plus side to this race is it can be a lot of fun and the hotels are excellent. And it's only 30km away from home!
We want to win the race through sprinter Smauel Caldeira, so that's the plan as it stands. He had a very good "Volta ao Algarve" and it seems likely he could win it. Last year I came in 13th after gaining time by winning some intermediate sprints.
The full, detailed race route for all three stages can be found here:
Vuelta a Buenos Aires:
This race has been canceled, I would guess it is another casualty of the credit crunch. Although so far cycling has come through relatively unscathed. Cycling lurches from crisis to crisis anyway.
Volta ao Algarve:
We had a suprisingly good Volta, 4th in the team classification, as the best Portuguese team. The race this year was bigger and much better than before, though falling a bit short of what it was talked up to be. Live TV and Eurosport never turned up. It was a shame because during such a glorious sunny week, with Tour de France Champion Alberto Contador in yellow at the end I can not think of any better way to promote a region supposedly renown for high end tourism and sports tourism. Infact that little race alone attracted throngs of people who would wouldn't be here otherwise. I think some large developments, and comerce could through a few euros to have the race pass... On TV, to millions across Europe.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
7-8th: Volta ao Munícipio de Albufeira: A 2.12 ranked event. 4 star hotels all round, dangerous, technical stages, nervous U-23's in the mix. This is one of my favourite events despite not being suited to it.
18th-22nd: Vuelta a la Provincia de Buenos Aires: A 2.2 ranked event. This will be my first excursion to the southern hemisphere and a welcome escape to the summer. This race will makes excellent preparation for the "Volta ao Alentejo" that begins on the 1st of April.
Monday, 16 February 2009
The team presentation was in an old, restored market place in the center of Tavira. It was much more elaborate that in previous years. A professional photographer and film crew were employed to produce a video and accompanying photo’s for a brochure.
Many people came to the presentation, especially from the press. It was open to the public so anyone could come and go as they please, with canapés and drinks laid on for who ever. Cyclists and staff were all given brand new, tailor made suits for this. The sponsors were individually presented, followed by a short piece on each of the cyclists and staff. Here is the link to the brochure presented:
I disliked being called "equipier" in the brochure and consider myself a "rolador". I think I have earn that, having frequently won intermediate prizes and worked a lot on the front of the bunch. One day, I hope to be; "completo".
Training camp was fun. We are all friends on the team which helps. On occasion I have resented training camps. Usually this only happened when I had a girl friend, family or friends near by that I couldn't be with because of it. But after a bad month with horrid weather and no electricity, it was a pleasure to find myself in a four star hotel by the beach in warm sunshine! The incessant photographs do weary one after a while, but it was a small price to pay.
New Team Members:
One is a celebrity in the purest sense of the world; he has multitudes flock to the road side just to see him. He is Cândido Barbosa with 101 professional victories to his name. André Cardoso, only my age, has won a "Volta a Portugal do Futuro" and a mountains classification in the "Volta". Also new to the team are Henrique Casimiro and Daniel Mestre, but these guys I knew from my time on the amateur team; Tavira/DUJA.
"Prova de Abertura":
This race usually passes a similar course year on year beginning and ending in Faro. It's not very hilly and the roads are good, which explains the 44kph average speed we set. The sun was shining and a strong wind from the east just to make it a little more interesting.
My job was simple: To get on the wheel of anyone wanting to escape who might pose a threat or be from a particularly threatening squad. I did this easily enough. Eventually I escaped with a group of 12 that established itself at the head of the race. There were two “metas volantes” along the way and I won them both and the over all in that classification. But disappointingly this didn't merit a call to the podium. I was left wondering: What is the point in placing a classification on course if the winner is hardly mentioned?
After my escapade, I used up the rest of my energy bringing back Tiago Machado. He was formidably strong and made a fantastic -although predictably doomed- effort to stay away. The last 20 kilometers I rested up at the back of the bunch. I could not be of much use to my team as I had little top end power. And I was not part of the group preparing the sprint. I got caught in split in the final 3 km and didn’t have enough energy or drive to sprint up to the front, so I lost a minute to the winner: Theo Bos, winning his first road race! A five time world champion on track I believe. Here are detailed results:
Monday, 9 February 2009
Clube de Ciclismo de Tavira has new colours and a new sponsor for the 2009 season. The professional team is now called "Palmeiras Resort/Prio/Tavira". This is a very possitive development after the recent disappointment of Orlando Rodrigues and José Azevedo leaving the team after the sponsor they brought pulled out without warning.
"Prio" is a company that develops and markets bio fuels. I could think of no better partner for a cycling team. Cycling is "green" mode of transport and a healthy activity, complementing the "green" fuels industry.
Palmeiras Resort, is a new luxury development in Tavira. They steped in and helped the team to a "Volta a Portugal" victory when the previous sponsor unexpectedly cut short its promise.
And Tavira is an extremelly beautiful historic town on a Lagoon on the warm south eastern coast of the Algarve twenty kilometers from Andalucia. This town is home to the team.
Season Opening Race:
The season opening race, sponsored by the national broadcaster starts and ends in Faro, outside the offices of the "Radio Difusão Portuguesa"
Some of it will pass on television I am not sure when.
Details of this race can be found:
Be sure to remember the under-23s race the day before, so if you're a cycling fan and wish to catch some action there will be a lot on!
Training Camp and Team Presentaion:
We have a training camp starting Wednesday. Photos to be taken and video to be shot on Thursday. And the team presentation on Friday. On Saturady the U-23s racem, starting in Vilamoura and finishing in Loulé. Followed by the professionals on Sunday. If further details are required I am sure they can be solicited from the team.
The Volta ao Algarve:
Will feature many big names including Alberto Contador and Damiano Cunego. It will pass on national RTP1 television as well as highlights on Eurosport. It will follow a format much the same as previous years. I think our main bet will be prior winner in the event Candido Barbosa. Who won in 1997 and 2002; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volta_ao_Algarve
A detailed route description, results and standings can be found here:
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Cycling does not charge an entry fee. On television too it's generally available on free to view chanels. This is the sport of the people. Football involves paying lots to view it either on satelite chanels or costs money to go and see it live. Footballers and other athletes have incredibly over-inflated salaries running into several millions, incomes that dwarf all but the greatest champions in cycling.
The "Volta a Portugal" regularly gets between 40% and 50% share in television viewing. As well as this there is the extra coverage in the national paper some times running to an extra supplement. And the massive crowds which inundate the finishes of races here run into the hundreds of thousands. To buy into this and another 90 races you need a mere €350 000 -the price of a house- to finance a Continental professional team for a year. It also keeps about 20 people employed. Here are just the Volta's viewing figures:
Cycling mirrors the state of society through the hardships the athlete's endure, often for no glory and little money.
The cyclists may not become known in the same way as other athlete's, but this is due more to a media discrimination as pointed out by Fernando Alonso before a training ride with Carlos Sastre.
Cycling is a sport any kid with a bike can take up. It doesn't require a pitch, or a gym hall or a pool. Merelly a road and any bike will do to allow a 12 year old access to the sport. You don't even need other people to do it with, as proven by the time trialists.
It's cheap, it's accesible, it's exiting. As a marketing tool in these times, it is ideal.
Monday, 2 February 2009
Anyway, I will only be updating this on Thursday with something hopefully quite interesting.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
It's measured by going flat out for twenty minute and having lactate samples taken at five minute intervals.
All it is is a tool to prescribe training zones accurately. And there is no prize for going fastest in the lab, but it is interesting.
Different people accumulate different quantities of lactic acid and many things about performance and physiology, I accumulate very little, which I am told means I am more endurance and less explosive. My power output was down a little on last year, not sure why. But I am fatter also so I presume I am less trained, or haven't trained as well as previously. It's negatively encouraging, but encouraging all the same. I will apply myself more now, so that I am that bit faster.
I will also practice pacing. So I know how to go the very fastest possible, as apparently it's possible to try too hard and go slower as a result.
Amazing, three years cycling and I'm still so ignorant about it!
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Mini pumps are the devils handy work.
I got a puncture today.
Sunday, 25 January 2009
50km in one hour. On a standard bike with no gears or any fancy aerodynamic gear. Few ever even try it and even fewer ever beat the mark no one's gone past 50km by the standard UCI rules. In fact it's barely improved since Eddie Merkx rode 49431m way back in 1972¹. It stands at 49700m at the moment. And it's held by Ondrej Sosenka. Incidentally, Sosenka was recently caught on amphetamines at his National Time Trial Championships².
To break this record:
-The best technology possible; Eddie Merckx had a titanium bike weighing 5.5kgs³.
-The most phenomenal engine humanly possible. Some idea of the power required would be somewhere in the region of 450watts for an hour. Some estimate lower, 425watts. But I believe the true figure to lie closer to 460 or higher. In non cycling terms; an ordinary person would probably manage about 120w, so imagine the power of three or four people in one.
-A very good velodrome. Things to consider here are altitude, the running surface, the ambient temperature. It was rumoured that Armstrong wanted to build a velodrome at high altitude, break the record and subsequently demolish the velodrome so as no one may gain said advantage easily.
Moser suggested Lance Armstrong might want to make an attempt. Without a doubt Armstrong has the three above sorted.
Th process of breaking this record would start by proving potential, first on the road in long time trials, followed by testing in the lab and finally testing on the track. Second step would be team backing. Third, private backing would be required to pay for the attempt, right through training, technology, assessment to completion. Fourth, a very good engineer to optimize and complement the work of the athlete, the coach and the team, with the fast bike possible.
I recommend reading "The Hour" by Micheal Hutchinson. This book is very informative, while being quite amusing at the same time.
I would love to give the Hour record a try.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
He suffered extremely from Depression. And Borderline Personality Disorder. I am not sure what either of these diseases entail. But I guess they were part of the engine that helped power him to two World Pursuit Championships and two World Records. It's an inspiration. But like reading of Lance Armstrong's exploits at the Tour de France, so untouchable as to kind of frightening and a little bit depressing, from an athletes point of view.
A streak of mental illness must run in all high performing people. But not in the same way as Graeme Obree. I think most athletes, musicians, actors, etc, embrace stress and competition in a positive way and need it. Almost like compulsive risk takers, or gamblers. He seems to have dreaded it. Used it as a means to an end.
There was so much pain in Obree's book. It comes across so heavily in the last chapter that I just threw the book to the ground. Why could he not just suck it up? Or at least try and kill himself properly? It's not hard to think of ways that would lead to a definitive end to our fragile existence. It struck me as very cruel to the people that evidently love him. And incredibly selfish.
The world at large is to blame in big part. Those children who bullied Obree and his brother, without a care but their own satisfaction, at putting another human being down. There is a negative vein running through human nature that allows this to happen. No one is happy being renegade but this is the inevitable position some people are pushed to by the thoughtless and shallow actions of others. Ironically it's the renegades who tend to shine the brightest.
He has given so much to the world through his inspirational performances. On the bike and a brilliance which transcended cycling. His suicidal efforts and depression are perhaps also the down side of harbouring such a gift?
I hope that Obree is happy now and can nurture his talents, even if it's not for the world to see.
I definitely emphasized and identified with him being motivated through social exclusion as a child:
I remember clearly one day, in the winter 1999, lining up for chapel, being mocked for something stupid and shutting myself off from the world. From then, through school I had no evident problems with depression or emotional hurt. I did not have many friends either. Shutting of emotionally is a completely isolating experience as both the negative and positive sides of human interaction are blocked. It was definitely a motivator. I wanted to beat those that mocked me, both on the sports field and academically.
I reconnected with my emotions to some degree at university. My mothers death, dropping out of uni and the Madeira accident still haunt me. Always work to be done.
Friday, 16 January 2009
On our website there is all the information relating to the team and where we are racing. The team has one of the best calendars for a Continental team division team. There are also other races rumoured, some in exciting and exotic destinations. I can't wait to get started!
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Troféu RDP Algarve, 1.12, 15 February.
Volta a Albufeira, 2.12, 7-8 March.
Volta a Santarem, 2.2, 12-15 March.
Volta ao Alentejo, 2.1, 01-05 April.
I am reasonably happy with this. I will be workinig for other riders though this block. The only regret I have is not doing the Volta ao Algarve. And I am a bit jealous about not racing in Argentina. It gets more interesting futher into the season, though the rest wont be know exactly for a while thoughI have a vague idea. The idea of the Tour of Turkey was also discused- which would be interesting.