Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Volta ao Algarve

-

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.

Volta ao Algarve
Breakaway – Stage 2, on the biggest climb in the region.

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.

Next year things will be better for sure.

Being set against ProTour riders with everything they need to perform and several days racing in their legs, right from the get-go, is tough – I was surprised we were able to race as well as I did.

Truth be told my team has a budget that would pay for just one second-rate ProTour cyclist, so imagine the difference.

I got my race bike (one that fits this time) just last Thursday, we haven’t got a coach and we don’t have any sport science. We’ve got our bikes, the support of our families, and our fans.

In some cases (the older cyclists on my team) we have parallel activities to sustain ourselves and our ambitions to at least have a family and make a living. So to be able to put up some sort of a fight against ProTour riders in their final phase of preparation for the spring classics is extraordinary.

The supporters during the race gave me goose bumps.

I’m a humble guy and lead a very quiet life; I put my head down and work and don’t give much time to image or socialising or anything like that. So to hear my name (and all it’s variations; “Tomás”, “Tom”, “Thomas”, “Tomas”) shouted so many times and across the region made me feel very touched. I wished I could give them more than just a breakaway, but that’s all I had in the legs this year. Next year I’d like to do better.

Tony Martin did an unbelievable TT on the last day, he put five guys out of the control time, which is very unusual in time trials; even the likes of Danny Pate and Nelson Oliveira lost four minutes to him.

I lost seven and I thought that was fairly good.

Henao was on another level on Alto do Malhão. He gave me three minutes on the climb and was about 30” faster than my best time in training. I was bonked and had just chased on after a puncture, so I was in no state to do a decent climb.

I need to learn to economize effort better when riding in the peloton. In the second stage I attacked and attacked till I got away, it was to and from my home town, so an extra effort was merited.

Theo Bos, with all this mad get up (smooth helmet, TT suit and a bike about as wide as a pencil) won the stage – I was caught with about 15km to go.

Volta ao Algarve
That horrid, uppy-downy wet TT.

I felt really touched by all the support during the past while, it’s truly appreciated and I hope I and the team and put up some good performances this season.

Next on the cards is a couple of classics and the Volta ao Alentejo. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll be doing because I’ll be having a nose job (correct a deviated septum) sometime in the near future.

Until next time, T.

Volta ao Algarve

Related Articles

At Random

Gerry McDaid

Here at VeloVeritas we were saddened to learn of the death of Scottish Cycling stalwart, Gerry McDaid. Gerry died on 20th November in the Cochrane Care Home, Johnstone aged 77 years. As I young club cyclist I used to hear stories from my roadie friends about Gerry; they conveyed an image of ‘The Maximum Commissaire’ – an official not to be messed with. I carried this image with me for years but when I got to know the man I found him to affable and of the ‘common sense’ school of race officiating.

Reflections on the World Time Trial Championship 2009

Fabian Cancellara is a wonderful athlete, class personified. He looks at one with the bike and he's quite fearless; it's hard not to gasp as he blasts along at his 60 kph average (take out the corners, roundabouts and the climb, and that's the speed he's sitting at), skiffing walls and flicking that Specialized through narrow village streets like a kermesse king - a pleasure to behold.

The Next Level: TdF2010 Stage 17 (mountaintop)

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.

Philipp Walsleben – “To be successful in cyclocross you have to be based in Belgium”

There’s a man from Berlin who has to be viewed as a podium possible for the 2014 Worlds in Hoogerheide; 26 year-old Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus). This winter has seen him consistently on the podium in the World Cups, rubbing shoulders with the very best – Nys, Albert, Van Der Haar and all the rest. Philipp took time out from the hectic Xmas/New Year ‘cross frenzy’ to talk to VeloVeritas.

The VeloVeritas Years – 2015: Un Grande Giorno sulla il Colle Delle Finestre!

Sometimes on the big tours you have to change plans; road closures, janitors, barrier crews, motorway crashes can all influence your 'best laid plans.' At the end of the day you may not have missed deadline - we rarely do - but there'll be that feeling that you could have done better. Then there are days when you have to struggle then struggle some more but eventually it comes together, you get to where you want to be and get those special pictures.

Tomás Swift-Metcalf Blog – Storm Damage

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.