Ooh That'll Hurt. Stage 2 of the Eneco Tour, and we shot southwards from northern Old Zeeland (I can’t help it) which is an amazing place — we were 6m below sea level and 100km inland on a bit of land that was ocean only 30yrs earlier! Incredible.
Getting It Done. Yesterday was an interesting day for the team: we had Svein in the leader's jersey, and so were obliged to control the race.
The Wait and Hope. Yesterday was the start of the Eneco Tour, a race through the Netherlands, Belgium and (I think) Luxembourg. It’s a week-long race on the Pro Tour circuit, meaning it is one of the handful of races through the year from which teams can accumulate Pro Tour points and enhance their ranking.
Stats Catch Up. Possibly the most boring blog post ever coming up. Since the Tour, I’ve been having a relatively quiet time, reboosting the energy reserves, and catching up with the boys who need treatment in Girona as and if they need. And now, on the eve of heading off to the Eneco Tour, I finally get myself into gear to post another blog entry. Quality.
A week after the Tour, and Mands and I got ourselves over to San Sebastian for a bit of vacation relaxery after the saga that is the nose to the grindstone month of the Tour.
The strangest stage of the whole race from the point of view of the staff is the finale into Paris. Our team base is in northern Spain, and so all non-essential equipment went from Bordeaux back to Spain (rather than go to Spain from Bordeaux via Paris — a 1200km detour). Thus we were truckless (or untrucked?) for the only time in the race. Very Tardy.
Time trials are always difficult days at races. Firstly, the riders line up knowing their final position in the race depends on their forthcoming hour of solo work, and secondly, the logistics for the staff are super complex here at the TdF Stage 19.
The Final Efforts. We’re on the downhill slope for this race now, and the fatigue is starting to show. It’s getting tougher and tougher to chisel our heads off the pillow each morning, and the coffees are having smaller and smaller effects.
The Next Level. Today, TdF2010 Stage 17, was the showdown. As all who watch cycling know, any stage with a mountaintop finish is where many of the overall selections happen, and when the mountain is the Tourmalet, which is enormous both in terms of the difficulty of the climb, as well as its history, it’s all the more definitive.
How far to go. Stage 16 TdF2010 was the biggest climbing stage of the Tour, but the last climb was some 60km from the finish, which made for a weird looking profile for the day. The boys scaled four enormous mountains, the first beginning from km 0. Tough gig.
After a single day of respite from the searing heat of the majority of this race, we were back into a bright sunny day for TdF Stage 13 with high temperatures. This meant the support crew were back up the road helping our boys as best we were able on the big climbs.
TdF Stage 13...The big question of the day: will it be a sprint or a break? The Tour has now fallen deep into the second half of the race and the real show to sort out who will finish where in the general classification starts today as we hit the high mountains of the Pyrenees.
Sadly, Tyler abandoned yesterday as his body finally said “enough”. We were all disappointed for him. It was very saddening to see his face, which showed the acute disappointment he felt. The race itself did go on, however, and typically, Garmin-Transitions were flying the flag despite the setbacks today at the TdF Stage 12.
Hump Day & Humdrum. As the physio on team Garmin-Transitions, all I can say is this is a dangerous sport. All things considered, 3rd place for Tyler yesterday was a fantastic effort by the whole team, with Dave Zabriskie helping to control the break for most of the day.
A Hard "Easy" Day. Yesterday was always going to be the day that the breakaway succeeded. The profile of the course and the stages on the days either side of it meant that neither the GC nor the sprinter teams would be interested. It wasn’t hard enough to separate the GC lads, but wasn’t easy enough for the sprinters to make it to the finish with the main bunch.
Another Day, Another Epic. Yesterday’s stage was a 204km monster through hot weather over a series of significant climbs, totalling about 4.5km (vertical) of climbing all up. The climbs were spread at the start and end of the race, with a relatively flat section through the middle of the day. Enormous by any standards.
Allergic to Stairs. I can remember watching the Tour in the years before being a part of the race. I was always completely gutted that just when things got interesting and they’d had a few mountain stages, there would be a rest day.
Double Challenge. Mountain stages in bike races are inevitably decisive in sorting where riders finish in the race overall. They pose a number of challenges to a team atop the obvious physical barrier of the terrain itself.
Weight of a Nation. Today was the first mountain stage of the race, and the second chance for the big hitters to test each others' legs and see who was looking dangerous and who not. I just love the mountaintop stages in these races!
Book out the window. There was a quote one of our boys gave on a day he crashed twice in 200m: “I thought I was pretty good at riding my bike.” Upon watching the final sprints and the way our boys have set up the lead-out train in the past two days, I think I could be forgiven for thinking something similar about what I do for a job.
Relativity of Time. I have a great mate who has a theory on the relative speed of time passing. He believes that time should be measured experientially, rather than chronologically (similar to Dunbar in Catch-22, who believes if he does nothing for long enough, time will drag out to the point that he will effectively live forever).
Two Day Theory. It is a very fortunate thing that the situation that Garmin-Transitions is in during this Tour is a first time for all of us involved. The fortune I speak of is partly that we've never had to deal with nigh on half of our team all being pretty badly wounded on the one descent, and partly that the fretting resulting from this would leave us, the staff, nervous wrecks. I have made up a totally anecdotal "two day" theory regarding peoples' responses to injury and trauma. It's completely without scientific evidence or backing, but does explain a pattern of behaviour that I have regularly seen over the years.
The Bounce. We came to this Tour with nine guys ready to race. We’re down our leader and facing some injuries, but if yesterday proved anything it’s that we’re still up for it. The day started out with a little stress, considering the injuries some of the guys were going to go over cobbles with.
Perfect Storm of Crap! All talk of the Mock aside, holy crap. What a day. Yesterday’s stage was dubbed a mini Liege-Bastogne-Liege as it covered a segment of the same course as that particular race. For those not in the know, LBL is one of the major Spring Classics on the calendar. It’s a tough race with lots of short, sharp hills on very small old roads.
Always Fear The Mock. Some would say that this is the most powerful force in the universe, and yet it has never been quantified. I for one am a firm believer in the Mock, and think that CERN should be turning their attention to investigating the power of the Mock, rather than the trivialities of the God particle, Higgs boson and what-all else you want to talk about.
Solid Kick-off. Finally we’re underway! And what a start it’s been. Time trial days are always long periods of surprising quietness (and the quiet is always a surprise) punctuated by flurries of furious activity. As team mechanic-cum-philosopher Kris Withington (NZ’s finest mechanic) says, “it’s either full gas work or full gas wait.”
One More Sleep! time for the TdF 2010 to Start. We are at the end of Day -1, which is the point where the whole team just want things to start already. Admittedly I’ve been in that mood since Tuesday afternoon when I headed out from the team Service Course in Girona. Now everyone else has joined me in night-before-Christmas-as-a-seven-year-old land.
Are we ready yet. Two days out from the start of the Tour. The whole team has arrived at the hotel, and the Show is about to begin! It's very exciting, but not much is really going on.
The Pizza Matrix Thwarted. We have all been faced with, and stumped by, the eternal question when hosting a gathering: how many pizzas to order?
Big Race: Small Race. Mid June has been and gone, and I find myself up in the northeast of Italy once again (Arona to be precise), this time at a couple of tiny one day races. We came through the same area for the finale of the Giro, where Ivan Basso turned the screws over the final few days to win the overall.
United Nations of Awesome. Boombah! Or, as we like to pretend that the Italians say, Opahhh! So the last post I put through (earlier today) was 16km from the finish, and included a series of “hopefullys” all of which came to pass, meaning we won today! A great result for the team, and a super performance by the team.
We're into double figures. We’re now deep into the Giro, Day 10 in fact, and the cracks are starting to show! Firstly, there was a horrific incident of five of the team’s staff getting on the wrong side of some VERY raw, yet delicious steak, which fortunately didn’t lead to a team-wide outbreak of GIT problems. Thank goodness for Universal Precautions! Secondly (and as ever, less importantly) the riders are now in the hurt basket pretty much permanently.
Yesterday was the Giro d'Italia Team Time Trial (TTT) a 33km shot through northern Italy where teams departed five minutes apart and raced the clock up the road. The order of starting was based on the overall standing of the best three riders from each team, with the slowest team going first, and the team of the race leader going last (regardless of how their team was faring).
Good Times Bad Times - CIAO! The Giro d’Italia version 2010 has begun. We started racing up in Amsterdam (which, while not technically* part of Italy, was a cool place to start racing from) with a time trial, followed by two road stages. The start of a Grand Tour is always cool — the whole team starts to find extra gears, and the organisation is singing by start time.
Back! Just a quickie before the Giro starts (well, only three days after the Giro started, but near enough). March and April saw a nice turnaround in the fortunes of the team: only two fractured collarbones and two major concussions! MUCH less hectic! We also put in some very good results, popping up with wins in both individual stages and overall races (on one memorable day we won three times: two stages and an overall race. Very nice!). We also had some very strong showings in some of the biggest one day races on the calendar. Very nice indeed! March also saw a grand turnaround in the life of Tobias, with the arrival of Mands to sunny Girona. Good times!
I was sitting in a little plaza in Girona the other day, tucking into a gelato and enjoying the dream, when a dude on a unicycle with arms outstretched furiously pedalled his way past me. It got me to thinking: Has there ever been a worse invention in the history of mankind?
Paris-Roubaix. Hell of the north. The Queen of the Classics… Roubaix, Baixby! There is a great deal of hype out there about the latest and greatest event taking place. When it comes to Roubaix, the expectation and the event itself meet. This is a brilliant bike race!
So January was all sunshine and roses. And then"... KERTHUMP! Along came Europe in winter in all of her furious unpredictability! My first night in Girona was one of the very rare times that it snows in town.
A quick recap on 2010 to date — Had the BIG Engagement party in early Jan (and thanks to all who came along — it was gratifying seeing so many of Mands and my family and friends there, many from a long way away). And then it was straight to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under.
did the last day of the Berlin Six Day, this year and one of the riders I was looking after was Australian Stephen Hall, son of former British Madison Champion, Murray Hall. It transpires Stephen is no mean wordsmith; we thought you might like to read his "Rules for Racing in Belgium" - whilst they're from an Aussie perspective so much of it is rock solid advice irrespective of your nationality, based on experience.
Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne UCI 1.1 HC is the bridesmaid to Het Nieuwsblad’s UCI WT bride but it’s a race with a long history dating back to 1946 and has some interesting winners including Roger De Vlaeminck, Patrick Sercu, Johan Museeuw, George Hincapie, Cav – and a certain Patrick Lefevere in 1978.
It is pretty cool to watch the team wagons roll in for the start of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2019, very military - but the diesel fumes aren’t so much fun. The teams do their best to keep saddos like us away from the bikes with those tapes they use outside night clubs – no creds for us for this race, we’re just fans – so you have to make do with the ‘B’ bikes on the team car roofs for...
It's the start of the season proper with UCI World Tour Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and UCI 1.1 HC Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. It was a tad savage when the alarm blasted at 03:10 on Friday but on the other side of the scales we were on Belgian soil bright and early.
C’est la vie. After filling most of Saturday with a dozy nine hour drive, the team arrived in the medieval village of Sillans-la-Cascade. We were greeted with a hearty four-course feast, courtesy of the host family who would be looking after us. This set the theme for the week; each meal was both tasty and enormous. With 1000km to ride in the next seven days plenty of fuel was certainly welcomed.
Drew Wilson’s ‘Robert Millar Appreciation Group’ has generated a lot of interest on FaceBook, with 1,185 members - by now everyone must know he was Britain’s greatest stage race rider until Team Sky and their marginal gains came along – we had another name for that ‘back in the day’...