Wednesday, 18 February 2009

March Calendar Update:

March is looking like an interesting month:

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

In Review: Team Presentation, Training Camp and "Prova de Abertura"

Team Presentation:

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:

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

New Team Colours, Season Opening Race, Training Camp, "Volta ao Algarve".

"Palmeiras Resort/Prio/Tavira"

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;

A detailed route description, results and standings can be found here:

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Cycling and the Credit Cruch

These might not be bad times for cycling. People are hard up, companies are tightening their budgets.

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

Computer is Broken

Unfortunatly both my computers are broken. Typically things like to go wrong all at the same time! Also have piles of stress due to miss filed insurance claims and misread bills and even an invalid will. When it rains it pours and this has been the wetest January in the past 30 years here in the Algarve. So wet infact I have done about 4 hours on the turbo trainer! Shocker.

Anyway, I will only be updating this on Thursday with something hopefully quite interesting.