I haven’t raced since September 1st. I’ve been working hard though, on Swift Momentum Sports (SMS), and restoring an old building and of course, some training. SMS is doing pretty well. I’m glad to have shown people some fantastic cycling and running, as well as to have trained some very good athletes. My professional cycling career, however is pretty much over. I wasn’t renewed for the 2014 season.
The past year, I and my colleagues signed up to pretty bad working conditions, but this sacrifice allowed the team to continue. The oldest supposedly professional team in the world. Last season I had a couple of doors open to go else where, nothing brilliant, but new opportunities. Hanging on at Tavira felt kind of good though, like the work had a higher purpose. I’m not averse to risk nor struggle and working on such a project is tantalizing. Mid-season a sponsor came along with the ‘old’ management and the new team was killed off effectively…Full Story»
I want to continue racing, I’ve got a lot to give and a lot to improve. If I can’t race, working within the sport would be fantastic too. I would be good in many roles within the sport. Maybe if all goes arse-ways and I have to leave I’ll set up my own team some time into the future.
The fact I feel tranquil now is the fact I’ve got an education, a business and I have lived my dreams as a cyclist. I’m looking forward and I’ll keep riding my bike. I love cycling.
It’s my third Volta a Portugal and I really feel lucky to get here. My form is good, possibly the best ever. Obviously I get the odd pang of paranoia; I think twice if I drink a beer, worry about food – kind of stupid really. I slimmed down by three kgs for the Volta, which is basically my lightest ever racing weight and only now am I realising I’ve got margin to loose more.
One thing about being a roulleur/domestique here is that there’s really no pressure to loose loads of weight like the climbers, who have to get really skinny. There was the usual presentation for the Volta. We were in a mad rush and it was stressful.
This race is the last tune up for the Portuguese peloton before the biggest race of the season, the Volta a Portugal. A lot of the teams turn out very strong for Agostinho, as it’s known. The amateur teams also turn out strong since the race is a 2.2 and the pinnacle of their calendar, aside the ‘Volta a Portugal do Futuro’.
British teams have had good performances in this race. Last year Endura lost the yellow jersey of Iker Camaño only on the last day. And the year before that Ian Bibby had an excellent showing but fell apart under the onslaught of the Portuguese teams on a very hard circuit race on the last day. My team won the last two editions of the race.
I haven’t written on this blog for a while. The reason for this was that I was kind of getting tired of whining on about bad luck, hard times and other problems. No one wants to read that and no one cares. So I decided to keep calm and hang tight till good news come along.
The good news that has come my way is that after an incredibly tough three years suddenly I have some breathing space regarding ‘making a life’, as well as my future as a cyclist.
So I’m home now after the Volta ao Algarve, which, like always, proved to be very hard. The stages were all mammoth 200k slogs on twisty-turny roads through the hills. The stage finishes were a bit sketchy and the whole thing was topped off by a 35km TT through the hills on bad roads which were wet for the first half of the race.
I suppose this epic parcours was chosen to try and compensate the reduction in number of stages this year (four versus five in previous years) but I don’t think the ProTour guys liked this idea very much as they were complaining bitterly.
The season has started, my sixth season as a professional. The weather here has been brilliant (a little cold at 10-12ºC) but always sunny and it’s been fantastic training up for these races.
It’s such a pleasure getting out the in the hills working away, seeing all the beautiful views and interesting things, testing my form on the climbs. Of course for the Volta ao Algarve bad weather is forecast and I go badly in bad weather, but we’ll deal with that as it comes…
I haven’t written since the penultimate stage of the Volta a Portugal. I have been wary of writing bullshit in such stressful, emotional times. I don’t like to speak of the problems in cycling, since I find them so boring. It’s the first thing anyone outside the sport mentions when I say I’m a cyclist. The Armstrong fiasco affected me quite a bit.
I was one of those kids that took to the roads because of the Armstrong myth. My mum, Kate Swift, died of cancer when I was 19 during my first year at university. Armstrong was a huge motivation for her and I, or at least gave us reason for optimism. That winter I watched my first bike race too: the Volta ao Algarve; won by Floyd Landis.
The stage started with a ceremonious 37km where we pottered along behind the winners.
I felt awful.
I found it very hard to congratulate David Blanco. I told him so. I felt crap, humiliated, embarrassed; it was the first time the reality of loosing the race had sunk in.
David is a friend, he’s a very intelligent and interesting guy. He’s off to work in Africa next month, his record of five victories in the Volta a Portugal set, I said I’d visit him and I’d really love to one day, finances and career permitting.
What a FARCE. My TT bike was exactly at the right length when I came to this race, yet at the prologue they told me it was 1cm past the limit… It was duly cut and shortened.
Today, remarkably it was 2cm passed the limit! Did the bike grow? No, it was bloody measured with some contraption a 10 year old might have bashed together. It’s a disgrace.
I wasn’t able to update this immediately as we had a nightmare getting to the hotel and only arrived at 12sh.
This race started in the highest city in Portugal, Guarda. It’s the queen stage and one that sees us climb the only hors category climb of the race, Alto da Torre.
The first stage after the rest day is a bit tough.
The rest day can do more harm than good and I for one like to just keep on going, to get it over and done with.
Today we were given the same orders as before the rest day, which was to make the race difficult for whoever was meant to be controlling. Hence I attacked pretty much as soon as the race started and it stuck, I was joined by another 13 or so and we got stuck into a long day in the break away.
I had a bad day today.
It was just one of those days where I just felt crap. I pushed through, did my work at the beginning, attacking, jumping across to break away and the like, but didn’t get away.
I nearly got lucky when I and Yelko Gomez from Caja Rural got a space, but that was reeled in by others trying to bridge across.
For the rest of the stage I’d occasionally go to get water, but that was it work wise.
This stage was a tough one, we had a huge mountain right at the start and several others to follow. The roads were crummy also, which made descending awkward.
I was told to save energy and cart water about.
But I felt brilliant, it was one of those days I had to temper my enthusiasm. I escaped on that big mountain at the beginning about half way up and then at the top also.
It was great fun.
Last year this stage wasn’t so hard since we had four ‘rouleurs’ rather than just two this year.
The race started in the beautiful town of Viana do Castelo and ended on a large mountain called ‘Senhora da Graça’ it was epic.
This region is called Minho and it’s nothing like the rest of Portugal, it’s green and mountainous, looks like some mountainous part of the British Isles – but feels much warmer!
I had my work cut out today.