Sunday, 21 February 2010

Volta ao Algarve

The Volta ao Algarve began and ended in the worsted possible manner for me.

Due to a bureaucratic error, my name had not been added to the UCI database, so when my team went to enter me into the race I was refused. This despite all the paper work apparently being in order and having the appropriate licence and insurance. This was hugely stressful on the day before what to me is a hugely important race. I didn't know I was racing till 50m before the start. So I went to the start line already ill prepared and stressed to the core.

I felt at ease in the group and was optimistic of doing a good job at this race.

Stage two was a mammoth 216km with over 3400m of climbing. Added to this was 5ºC, rain and wind. I went out dressed for this weather, but my attire was inadequate, and I left the start line in Sagres teeth already chattering. This isn't good and I should have known better. Even on the mountain climbs I had teeth chattering and the bike zig-zaging as I trembled. On the descents my body went still with cold. My heart rate would rise above 75% of it's maximum.

When I realized that this was no longer for me a sporting competition, but an exercise in suffering, I pulled over. There was no way I could do the rest alone.

I was and still am really bitter about this.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The Prova de Abertura

Portuguese cycling has changed, quite suddenly and from one season to the next. Before it was fully professional, with many hilly stage races of a very high standard. Now there are three. A 2.2, 2.1, 2.1. Is this bad? Many believe that portuguese cycling had grow beyond it means and regard this change as an evolution and that it will give rise to a big pro team, rather like Team Sky, i.e. nationaly representative.

A extremelly possitive development is the fact that dope control has become very rigorous.

The race was strange, no radios meant few people took initiative and many times the speed came right down to 20kph, to shoot up to 60kph, there was no particularly impressive riding, unless you count the last 30k. Which my team took at incredible speed. The last 8k covered at over 60kph. My team mate Samuel Caldeira came thrid in the sprint and said the team had done a perfect job.

I had the rather tiresome and boring task of riding on the front for ages, infact we controled most of the race with only 2-3 riders. Better than hanging on in the bunch, but not nearly as much fun as if we had blown the race appart. Oh well!

Now I will go to the Volta ao Algarve and be out of touch. However I will post next Monday my views on the race and how it went. The course profile can be found here:

It's a very tricky, hilly race, with horrible weather predicted.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Season kicks of this weekend

It's the prova de Abertura, the season opening race in Portugal. This used to be two races, an U-23 and a professional race. But this year, because of lack of funds it's one race. I came second in this race in 2006, and won the metas volantes last year, so I tend to go well there.

This year I don't know. I presume my team will want to bring it down to a sprint. Which is fair enough, I think we have the legs for a result here. That said I wouldn't discount completly a break arriving. We are racing with under-23's, there will be no radios... so it is quite likely. Infact attacking the race to force the others to chase might be more economical than burning up 7 in a chase for the line.

I'm a bit sick, usual plight of head colds and another virus thing. I should be better by the weekend. I've been stressed recently, moved house, living with my girlfriend. And with all the credit crunching going on, this wasn't as smooth as I had hoped. Although all is well now. It's amazing how hard it is to train, rest, feed, tidy and clean... I'll get on top of this though.

This year I am going to start to think about my post racing career. I want to have something there, to take the stress. I do of course want to take this to another level. I know I've got the fundamentals of an excelent cyclist. But that's just it. It's my tough luck should nothing more come of it. Suck it up and move on. I have enjoyed every moment of it.

I wish I was flying, I've got the "Volta ao Algarve" next week. This was the first race I ever watched. In 2004, while my mum was dying of cancer, I went to watch the Volta and gain inspiration from a certain Lance Armstrong. Inspiration was found. Six years latter there I am racing it myself. I have an autograph of Lance's from that race.

I started read "Minho and North Portugal", a book by my grandfather, Patrick Swift and David Wright. My girlfriend is from the Minho, which kind of brought me to picking the book up. I wonder if my grand father ever thought that 50 years into the future his grand son would be racing round those same montes? Amazing really. I won my one and only race in amateur on a cobble stone climb in the Minho!