Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweating in Sweden

I am writing from the Swedish town of Alingsas, a nice little town about 50km from Gothenburg. I haven't had the last two weeks I had planned, my body hasn't bounced out of the last block of racing as well as I would have liked and I have been battling with trying to get it on track. I had to pull out of Thueringen Rundfahrt last week, the husky voice courtesy of the laryngitis I seemed to have picked up hasn't been able to do me any real favours.

But despite sickness and fatigue, here I am in Sweden hoping for a small body miracle (I'm trying not to greedy, just a semblance of form would be nice). It is a nice place to be and we're here for 5 days, we have a World Cup road race on Wednesday and then a World Cup teams time trial on Friday. This teams time trial business is always interesting without practice; it requires, of course, strength, speed and skill, but more importantly a co-ordinated team where the riders can use their strengths to the benefit of the team without letting their weaknesses surmount any strengths they bring. It will be an interesting day! In a sport where there is often a whole team performance leading to an individual's result, this our chance to really have a team 'result' in the more traditional sense of the word.

After this block it is home for a bit of recovery and to get my body working in top shape again. I have done so much racing in the last few months that my hard training days have been few and far between. It will be good to get back into a rhythm (at least until I get restless enough to be back on the road). I will be 'home' in Germany to watch lil sis compete at her second Olympic Games....I am saddened already by the thought that I won't be there to watch as I have tried to be at as many big events of hers as possible over the years....luckily I will be there in spirit and there are many other Bates's travelling across the seas to support (visa permitting!).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Victory in Italy

My resolve to post every Monday has obviously not come about but I have now found a relatively quite moment to write a post. Unfortunately the time I often have does not coincide with internet access and my computer has been less than is hanging on to dear life by a thread.
I am back in Germany after a satisfying and successful few weeks in Italy for the Giro d'Italia Feminin. We started the tour in Mantova, 2 hours south of Milan near our old Aussie base in was hot, flat and windy for the first few days of the tour....a shock to the system but the racing surprisingly not super fast due to the conditions. My Rome-based friends Sam and Heather drove up to watch the first few days, with dogs in tow and they too sweated the way eastward to watch some not terribly inspiring racing. Luckily it got better after that! The first days we stayed out of trouble and made sure our trusty leader Fabiana stayed out of the wind and also out of trouble and didn't loose any seconds in the crazy last kilometres that the bunch sprinters love so much. We then moved south to Tuscany for just one stage there, but what a stage it was. After covering the attacks and the fast-paced action on the flat roads before the climb (as well as crashing after 1.5km!) we hit the hills. Some of the hardest climbing I have done all year, and that wasn't at the business end of the bike race.....these climbs were long and steep but the home terrain of Fabiana and she was able to work her magic and dance her way up the climbs to take the win and the pink jersey.
We then moved back north for a short flat time trial that didn't see any real changes in the GC. The next two days were tough tough tough....again long, steep climbs after flat parts of the race that saw us averaging 45-6kph on the flat before the climbs. We did our best to make sure no dangerous attacks went and that Fabi could use all of her energy for that dancing up the mountain she does so well.....again she did what she does best and put more time into the competition. The last day was relatively flat, but fast and windy and with the legs tired from the previous 8 days, it felt like it would never end. But end it did.....ended in lots of pink....a great result for Fabi and the team. I have been very lucky to be part of a team to have won Tour de l'Aude this year and then the Giro....a very satisfying feeling after working hard for the result.
Katie was also there racing under new 'Team Columbia' colours, they also had a very successful Giro with four stage wins and it was good to have her in the bunch....I always like to have her there.

After a celebratory party in Italy on Sunday night, I headed back to Germany and stayed with a good friend, Angela for a couple of days. It is good to have some time with cycling friends away from races, time just to chat about other things in life and relax. Now I am back 'home'...the next racing starts on Tuesday....not far from home this time with the tour in Thueringen but 6 days of what I am sure will be tough racing. It is some of the last racing before the Olympics and many girls will be coming into very good form and will be keen to use it....ouch!