Friday, 8 April 2011

Volta às Terras de Santa Maria (Team Time Trial)

Day One, Stage One:
141km RR

This stage was awful. Some people here felt inconvenienced by the cyclists. I do not like racing when it isn’t appreciated. At the Volta Algarve, in appalling weather we were greeted with heartwarming support. Support is extremely motivating! 

Then there was the hotel. I’ve stayed in this hotel over a period of 6 years and was never treated badly, but now, it seemed snobby. The restaurant was also terrible. The restaurant is a place that is always full, with a car park gleaming with new Porche Panemera’s and BMW X6. The irony was that here too we were well treated in the past. This time they presented us a days old almond cake, while saying they had nothing better… except we checked it out, they had at least twenty other deserts.

In terms of the race, the course was interesting we had 60 k’s that were flat, followed by some interesting climbs. Oh and the roads were shit, full of holes, rocks etc. We had to control the last 40k’s of the race and we did this well. At 20 k’s from the end I punctured in one of the many potholes. I never got back to the front and lost a bit of time. 

Samuel Caldeira did well to get to the end in the bunch, but had an epic crash:

It wasn’t a good stage and our rivals Barbot took another win. Filipe Cardoso won it.

Day Two, Stage One: 
16.8km TTT

We had an early start and a light breakfast before the team time trial. Now people had gone on and on about the hilly, somewhat technical course was. But as it happens the course was straight forward, despite the three round abouts and three hills. The road was wide which proved interesting. As the time trial was out and back, do you cut the corners and how much? There is a lot to gain in cutting corner. Check out a 400m world record and see the "discount" the people in the outer lane are given vs the inside lane.

As it happens, we didn't cut the corners at all.

The team time trial happened to be our first victory of the 2011 season! I was really happy with this, it was a relief after so many second places. It also proved our worth as a team. Not only did we finish in the fastest time (19:00.00) we also finished with all eight riders. We didn't ride perfectly, but we rode extremely well.

Our problem comes in translating work ethic and determination into victories in road races. I wont yet fault our leader, but rather the tactics we use.

We limiting ourselves to riding for one rider. Such a tactic works:
  • When others employ the same tactic.
  • When you have the strongest rider in the field.
  • When you have a pinch of luck to add.
The thing is, this grossly underestimate the opposition and has a huge physical cost. You can ask a rider to do one or two tasks in a race, but not more. 

Day Two, Stage Three:
65km circuit

We had the lead and five cyclists in the top five going into the last stage of this race. But our method to defend this lead was to control the race utterly. And that is what we did.

This race was 10 laps of a 6.5km circuit. The circuit had a hard cobbled climb, a very rough decent, followed by a rough road full of dangerous holes and then more cobbles. The finish line was atop the cobbled climb.

Well, I having lost time on the first stage due to a puncture was put to work, together with Diogo Nunes and Luis Silva to control the first 7.5 laps of the race. Even so I hung on to the second group, just missing the split for the first. The last 2.5 last were in the hands of my team mates. 

They managed the situation so that André Cardoso could keep the yellow jersey that (we) earned in the team time trail.

André won his first pro race and we won the first race of the season. All in all a good weekend.

This weekend the adventures continue with the first round of the Portuguese cup in Albergaria.

Ciao and till next week!

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