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 fact I feel tranquil now after the Volta a Portugal 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.
This Volta, the Volta a Portugal 2013 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.
The Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho 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'.
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. Writes Tomás Swift-Metcalfe.
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.
The Tomás Swift-Metcalfe 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.
I haven’t written an update on the Tomás Swift-Metcalf Blog 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.
Stage Ten of la Volta a Portugal 2012 started with a ceremonial 37km where we pottered along behind the winners. I felt awful.
32.4 km, 212m ascent today, in the stage to Praia de Pedrogão. 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's stats at the La Volta a Portugal 2012; 154.9 km, 4000m ascent. I wasn’t able to update this immediately as we had a nightmare getting to the hotel and only arrived at 12sh.
185.3 km, 2520m ascent today in the La Volta a Portugal 2012. 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.
184.1km, 2050m ascent. I had a bad day today from Aveiro. 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.
176.9km, 3000m ascent. This Volta a Portugal 2012 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.
151.9km, 2720m ascent from Viana do Castelo to Senhora da Graça. 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.
176.1km, 2100m ascent from Vila Nova de Cerveira to Fafe. We’re in the Minho, in the far north western corner of Portugal. It’s a wonderful place and feels like home away from home. It’s tough for racing though, it’s extremely hilly; you never go well, you’re never comfortable.
191.5km, 2400m Ascent from Oliveira do Bairo to Trofa, and today was brilliant! No long transfers this morning and I didn’t have very much to do. It was fantastic, a rest day practically.
The day started with a long transfer from our hotel in the magnificent town of Covilhã, Termas de Monfortinho, situated at the foot of Serra da Estrella. We’ve been run of our feet with with reconaisance, various signings on and parading around the palce...
Such a big fuss is made about the Volta that people forget there are other good and important races on the calendar. As ever, we put all our eggs in the one basket. I never really understood this.
I raced the Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho this weekend past weekend. The Prologue was very tricky, very technical. I did my best and I was very pleased. I didn’t have any great expectation for it, which was a good thing as I missed quite a lot of my warm up, due to everyone going berserk when my team mate and Time Triallist Alejandro Marque broke a gear cable just minutes before he was due to race. I also haven’t touched the TT bike since February.
The nationals are one of my favourite events of the season. The race is strange because I have no specific job to do, no pulling on the front, no marking, no driving the break and no one to let down apart from myself. The first British Elite Championships I took part in were in 2008, somewhere in Yorkshire. I went with the guys front An-Post, who helped me out a lot in getting to the race and finding a place to stay. It was an adventure. I drove on the ‘wrong’ side of the road for the first time up to the race in a van we had borrowed to get there.
The last few weeks have been reasonably uneventful so what to write on the Tomás Swift-Metcalfe Blog? We had a heat wave which was wonderful, but which only lasted a week. The team did a few races in Spain (I was resting) and won a stage in Vuelta as Asturias, which was excellent. I once did that race and it was probably the hardest I ever did. The weather seems to change from valley to valley and the place is very mountainous.
At the Volta ao Alentejo I spent the majority of every single stage on the front of the bunch controlling the race. All four days. Our sprinter was quite well placed to win the race, so I was quite happy to do this.
Although my season started over a month ago in Argentina, the Portuguese season opened on Sunday the 12th February with the "2nd Trofeu Cidade de Luís", followed by the Volta ao Algarve.
A quick update from the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, and it's a tale of bad luck and hard-going.
Well, I've never seen anything like that before... I'm at the Tour de San Luis and it's amazing. Not the Tour of Britain, not even the “Grandassima” (Volta a Portugal). Maybe only the opening of the Tour of Spain in Seville a couple of years ago was up to the scale of this “small” event here in the middle of Argentina.
After an eight hour car journey, fourteen hours in planes and a lot of hanging around, came the bus ride from Mendonza to San Luis. Mendonza is a wine producing region and is heavily farmed. For hundreds of kilometers there are well arranged crop and dispersed housing, like an endless suburb. It's not picturesque.
My season kicks of in a few days at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. I've never been to Latin America, so I'm a bit apprehensive - Brits aren't the most popular in Argentina, but it's probably just paranoia on my part.
Hi, my name is Tomás Swift-Metcalfe. Tomás is Portuguese, the Swift element is Irish, and Metcalfe is English. I'm a "Euro-mongrel", but I'm very much at home in Portugal.
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’...