Saturday, July 14, 2012

Qinghai wrap up

The tour of qinghai lake came to a reasonably successful end for us champion system boys this week. Starting the final stage in 3rd place, we had a very simple objective, to pinch some bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints to move at the very least into 2nd. Fortunately for me my team mates believed in me more than i believed in myself and after missing all the points in the first sprint finishing 4th despite a perfect lead out by my boys, I asked them not to work for me for the second and final intermediate of the 2012 tour as I has no confidence in my ability to take the seconds required to move up and was afraid my rivals might pinch time and move ahead of me. 

Thankfully my team mates told me to grow some testicles and have a go. They immediately went to work controlling the race for the next 30km before the sprint and with 3pm to go I again found myself behind my dedicated team mates drumming out a tempo that made it difficult for me to even hold the wheel. One by on the Chinese boys rode themselves inside out before my final man, will Clarke was the only one left in front of me with 1km to go before the most important intermediate sprint of my professional career. All the time our Rd captain aaron kemps and jian kun (nicknamed johy Quinn for the race) on my wheel protecting me from my rivals falling into my slipstream and I certainly heard plenty of foul language in both English and Spanish and Iranian coming from behind which gave me confidence, these guys were certainly ruffling the feathers of those chasing exactly what were chasing!!! So back to the final km and will took a quick look back at me and with my new found confidence I told him to let rip. Let rip he did cranking the pace up to almost 70kmph and in the process splitting 2 of us of the front of the peleton, myself and another rider along for the ride out of gc who just piped me in a photo finish for 1st however it was not a problem as the 2 seconds for 2nd place gave me enough to move into 2nd on gc. So 2 got me to 2!!! Back to will whom had pulled me to with 400m of the line had gone that had that when he finished his lead out he immediately went backwards through the peleton and was struggling to maintain contact within the safety of the follows cars by the time I crossed the intermediate sprint line. This really typified team work for me, he had dug so deep he did not have another gram of effort left in his body following his amazing effort to literally turn the race around for us with his lead out. I certainly owe him one big amount of help in an upcoming race in the future.

No heroics were performed in the final dash for the stage victory however it was widely spoken within the bunch that m champion system legendary team mates had done a faster lead out for the sprints than any of the sprinters teams could manage for the actual sprint!!! With my boys all in suffer street like will fighting just to make it the final 15km to the finish, replicating the lead out was not in the question and not to mention my inability to sprint against any riders with just the slightest sprint on them. 

Alas we were simply happy to have achieved exactly what we set out to do at the start of the day and achieve a great result for not only champion systems, but for the team work involved in obtaining the result. Everybody completely sacrificed themselves for me these 2 weeks and as a result we grew as a team together. We all had specific areas we could contribute and every rider took responsibility in those circumstances to perform there role and did not miss a beat the whole race. As a result of this collective contribution I was able to maintain a good gc position that we could all be excited to be apart off. 

As for the race itself it was quite an amazing adventure. The longest stage race ever held in Asia and hens earning the nickname of Asia's grand tour. 13 days, 2000km without any time trials!! average elevation of 3100m,  and an average race speed of 45kmph made it a real great event to be apart of. Having to face the environmental factors is hard enough at in excess of 3000m altitude however to attempt to contain the Iranians and columbians whom had all grown up living such environments took the torture to a whole new level. In any case we all survived and had the privilege of being apart of such a unique race which seeing the level of organization and determination of the local people to make it bigger and better in the future, many many professional cyclists will have the opportunity to experience it all in the years to come


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Qinghai stage 6

Racing above the clouds was the order of the day for stage 6. 2 mountain passes, 1st of which topped out at 3500m and the second and potentially decisive at 3900m with only a 15km plunge to the line to follow. Still struggling a lot from my diarrhea and tumbling tummy I had one simple objective not to lose anytime. My team mates did a great job keeping the race under control and the pace steady enabling me to save as much energy as possible. It was not until the final few km of the final climb that I had to make some efforts keeping the columbians and Iranians in check but even then still had my super stay team mate pengda(aka Kung Fu panda) to keep me in the front group. Over the climb we were safely in the front group of 15 or so guys and lacking any extra punch I was happy to have stayed at the head of the race. The group swelled a bit on the decent and a bigger group sprinted for the stage and I was quite relieved rolled across the line safely with my gc aspirations still intact. It is a pretty strange feeling racing up that high, you literally have no oxygen so I think I can say I know how 100m sprinters feel who old there breath in the mad dash!! Thing was felt like I had to do it for about 10minutes and must admit the thought of passing out whilst riding a bike had never crossed my mind until yesterday!! Fortunately the decent was pretty straight, any corners and there is a very high probability that i would have completely missed them. Still was a great day and satisfying day to see just what the human body could handle. It is one thing to push yourself to the limit which all athletes can experience but through in onto of that such extreme climate conditions and it is interesting to see just how the system will react. Anyways like so much of this year it has been a great adventure and I am sure plenty more still to come in the final 7 stages still to race here in Qinghai lake.

Time for the circuit race in then Switzerland of china!! Photos and more on that in a later blog


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Qinghai lake stage 5

Minimal action today, was a long 205km at an average elevation of 3300m. Again the breathing was the greatest obstacle and the thin air kept the pace very high, 45kmph average. Finished in the inevitable bunch sprint, I kept myself up front and out of the crashes, team did a great job looking after me and ensuring I have as much energy for tomorrows stage which tops out at 3900m 15km from the finish!! Of to bed in the clouds!!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Qinghai lake stage 4

3800m of elevation we reached today!!! I have only ever been that high on an aeroplane in the past, let alone racing at it on a push bike!! To make the experience all the more in humane I did it whilst under the onslaught of the columbians and iranian's whom make it look like there racing at sea level!! Anyway survived the climb and without to much damage. The local hero and my team mate lui biao did an awesome job setting tempo for me to keep the field as bike as possible and the rock spiders in check. Once down on the flat it was more my terrain, all bit it still at 3400m!! But was blowing it back side of and with some enthusiastic men whom had a bit of size to them in the group in the gutter it went and 27 of us were able to pull away and take some more time but most importantly put 3minutes into the columbians who find that sort of effort a little tuff so good day for me and the team. I now sit 3rd, 12 seconds behind the leader so all ok, still 8 long and difficult days to go.

150km, 3hrs 30min, 42kmph, heart rate- 131 average, 176 max, power- 216 average, 1048 max, 3751 max elevation.

Jolly jolly tiredddddd

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Qinghai lake stage 3

Today was quite difficult, in a nut shell, woke up this morning with Diarria, suffered through the first 100km, then went through torture and we climbed to 3500m elevation trying to maintain contact with the columbians and iranian's, finished in front group of 12 with my super star team mate pengda who saved my back side bigggggg time!!!! Oh and the Iranians and columbians, was pretty funny actually in the wind as every body wanted sit behind me as I was twice the size of them, not much protection for me unfortunately making the day all the more torturous but also satisfying in the end to still be at the head of the race.

Time 3hrs 30, 150km
Heart rate- 147 average, 185 max
Watts- 250 average, 1117 max
2000 calories burnt and max elevation of 3500m!!!!!

Need a big sleep