Sunday, October 17, 2021
HomeBlogsTavira Pro Tomás Swift-Metcalf's BlogSeason Opening; Trofeu Cidade de Luís and Volta ao Algarve

Season Opening; Trofeu Cidade de Luís and Volta ao Algarve

-

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.

* * *

2nd Trofeu Cidade de Luís

There were a few things that really limited me during this first race.

One was my new bike – an excellent bike – but it was handed to me on the morning of the race and it’s very different to my old bike.

My handlebars are 0.5 cm closer and 1.5 cm higher than the old bike, despite using a negative rise stem. It would usually take me about a month to get used to it.

Another problem were my shoes – these only had three days use and are far too comfortable, I got used to a very hard pair of shoes last year and normal shoes feel like slippers, with very little support.

Then there were the tactics; at the time I didn’t agree with the ideas, but I stand fully corrected!

Volta ao Algarve
Samuel Caldeira winning the season opening race.

I didn’t get the chance to open up the throttle, bar a couple of km’s in the last five. I don’t like not doing anything in a race, it leaves me unmotivated.

* * *

Volta ao Algarve

Stage 1.

We started by a place called Dunas Douradas, a posh resort right by the sea.

I was quite nervous which was good, I like to feel a bit nervous, it helps me focus. We carried out perfectly our orders, with Ricardo Mestre getting in the breakaway group on the hunt for a jersey and the rest of us carried on quietly in the peloton.

The course was a tough one, really hilly, but Omega Pharma/Quickstep kept everything controlled and we clipped alone at the steady rate.

At the end usually things get really tough, there are two hills in the last five km. I’m usually left standing at some point along there since I’m not very quick, but today I passed it all ok.

Stage 2.

Today I broke the engine – well, I ran out of petrol “glycogen” in physiology speak.

I was told to get in the break and did that. I am quite good at getting in the right move. My team’s aim had been to win an intermediate classification at the beginning of the race, but when Mestre didn’t come up with the goods on Stage 1, the team turned off that objective.

I’ve won plenty of intermediate classifications without any help, so I thought I’d aim for the mountains classification as I knew the roads well and knew that after 110km race I would probably be stronger than my breakaway companions given I’m a thoroughbred diesel.

I won both mountain summits, but in the processes of racing round these curvy roads I didn’t eat and ended up bonking.

I stuffed myself with food and was okay in a few minutes. Ironically it was my team pulling at the time I lost contact with the bunch -I only needed to arrive in the bunch to win the mountains classification jersey.

Volta ao Algarve
In the lead on Stage 2.

Stage 3.

Today was sort of a rest day.

My aim was to get in the break and I failed at this. I made a schoolboy error, attacking at the wrong point.

Later in the race, unmotivated for anything else, I stayed in the grupetto.

A couple of my team-mates finished in the top 30.

Stage 4.

A comedy of errors today.

I had ideas about winning the mountains competition, but I knew right from the get-go this wasn’t going to be possible – I was terrible!

I could barely stay in the bunch. My legs were killing me and while this may be 90% my imagination I put it down to the bike, which is totally different to my old bike.

I haven’t had any time to get used to it, as I said earlier, I received it on Sunday morning.

It’s 1cm shorter, the saddle is set on the limit back and the handlebars are 1.5cm higher even with a negative rise stem.

I also have a new pair of shoes… Someone had promised me shoes in December, but they never appeared, it was always “prá semana!” [next week], ’till last week when I lost patience and just bought a new pair.

Volta ao Algarve
Before Stage 4.

I dropped off the bunch several times during the stage. I just couldn’t apply any force. I was like a diesel-electric locomotive with the electric engines on the blink.

I actually did the last 40km completely by myself in under an hour, so the aerobic part is fine…

Anyone whose “broken the engine” will be familiar with these sensations!

I don’t know why I finished the stage. I have nothing more to gain from this race. I guess it was pride, but I don’t have that burning yearn for accomplishment that lead me to suffer to the end of races, even win races and classifications when I was younger.

I guess I need somewhere to go. I’ve already proved myself in the small pond that is Portugal, I’ve already proved myself as a domestique, and since there are no other extraneous motivations, I find it really hard.

I can’t see myself making the jump to another “pond” or another team. I can’t see myself finding an environment where people will be interested in helping me improve. I can’t even see the potential to earn a salary that could help me put my private life together.

I need to find something to aim at, something to keep me motivated. Any ideas folks?

Stage 5.

The TT was another comedy of errors…

We arrived about 45 minutes before I was off. I was second-last off the line. So I did my best to warm up, but between measuring the bike which took 20 minutes and the fact there was absolutely no interest in my TT by the team and a puncture just before the start, one kilometer up the road on my “warm up” meant that I actually didn’t get one.

Never mind, I wasn’t taking things too seriously, not even a heart rate monitor to measure my performance.

Before the TT swapping out the wheels – me arms crossed and grumpy!

I love the TT bike though and I love those roads and had a fantastic time racing round familiar roads.

I went really well for the first 15km, but passing a speed bump my handle bars dropped a bit and I lost my nerve.

I lost 3:40m to Bradley Wiggins at the end of the race and I never felt so happy for such a mediocre result.

* * *

A week on from the Volta.

The Volta ao Algarve is a beautiful race. I managed to do “something” and I am happy with that.

But events during the race have been knawing at me. I started thinking of all the races I had spent on the front of the bunch gutting myself, giving everything for someone else to achieve a victory -even improbable victories.

I just had to arrive in the bunch to take the mountains classification overall.

I was thinking particularly of the Volta ao Algarve last year and recently, the Volta a Portugal 2012 with a particular emphasis on stage 2, the second hardest with 3200m of climbing and pouring with rain.

I was in the break, I was flying that day and bridged across quite easily. In that break was a team-mate and I pulled that break along pretty much single handedly till the penultimate climb, giving him the best possible chances to win…

During stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve there was one team pulling when I got dropped. My team. I just had to arrive in the bunch to take the mountains classification overall.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt though.

Volta a Portugal Stage 2.

Team Sky were sublime, not perfect, but very, very good.

I felt like I was motor-pacing every time they got on the front. Just super, super strong.

I think they’ve come of age after a couple of seasons familiarising themselves with the demands.

My next race is a 2.12 National race in Albufeira on the 10th of March.

Ciao for the time being! Keep tuned in to my blog.

Related Articles

Introducing our New Blogger: Tomás Swift-Metcalfe

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.

Tomás Swift-Metcalfe Blog – Good news comes to those that wait

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.

Volta ao Alentejo

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.

Tomás Swift-Metcalfe Blog: More 1.1.2 Races

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.

Race Update: Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho & Circuito de Getxo

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'.

The Volta a Portugal 2013, Part Two & Postscript

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.

At Random

Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 21; Gemona – Trieste, 169 km. Luka Mezgec Takes the Finale

Mezgec’s sprint was timed to perfection in what was a real free-for-all of a finish. And isn’t that Giant jersey livery just so effective? – there was no doubt about which kind of bike had just won as Big Luka crossed the line. Nacer Bouhanni (F des J & France) didn’t seem his usual desperate self, he said later he was too concerned about crossing the line upright and preserving his red points jersey.

Le Tour de France 2011, Stage 15 – kicking around the Limoux départ

Le Tour de France 2011 and We couldn't get out of Andorra quickly enough. Before 08:00 we got the lift down from the 5th floor of the hotel, to be greeted by great plumes of cigarette smoke belching out of the breakfast area. Last night's determination to "make a fuss about the lack of advertised weefee" evaporated, as we just wanted to put distance between us and this horrid place as fast as possible.

Ollie Wood – “The Tokyo Olympics are the Big Goal”

On the track Ollie Wood has been a consistent top performer with national team pursuit and scratch titles to his name as a junior in 2014. In 2015 he again was in the winning team at national level and added the European U23 team pursuit title. Last year he was on the European podium in both the U23 and Elite team pursuit competitions – bronze on both occasions. And this season saw gold in the Manchester World Cup team pursuit. We caught up with the now 22 year-old – his birthday was the week after the Gent Six Day finished – to discuss his 2017 season and his plans for 2018 and beyond.

The 1978 Tour de Trossachs Remembered – VV Selects

This Sunday is another edition of the famous Tour de Trossachs time trial based in Aberfoyle, with a scenic and testing course using national parkland and quiet lochside roads. We've covered many of the recent editions and we'll be attending this year too, but for this week's "VV Selects" we thought you'd like to read Al Hamilton's piece from 12 years ago, in which he reminisces about the first time he saw the race on the Duke's Pass, a mere 41 years ago...

Marcin Bialoblocki – British Record Holder: 25 Miles in 42:58!

When the big Pole Marcin Bialoblocki lined up at the start of the fast A465 dual carriageway for the Welsh 25-Mile Championships near Rhigos he was a man with a point to prove. It took him just 42 minutes and 58 seconds, as the 34 year-old, originally from Sokolka rewrote the record book, with a winning margin of four-and-a-half minutes.

Think Long and Hard Before Driving to Antwerp!

Now, if anyone was thinking of doing so, think long and hard before driving to Antwerp and back in a day, because the job in hand is just that-long and hard! Saturday gone was the date of my team presentation, or Ploegvoorstelling, so with the company of my girlfriend we took on the 500 mile round trip to meet and greet with team mates, sponsors, press, and the obligatory random Belgian cycling fanatics at the team café, St Barts, in Merksem, Antwerp.