Sunday, 1 May 2016

April's Blog

The team before stage 1.
To start the month off I had a 10 day UCI 2.2 in Morocco with the team.
Tour du Maroc stage 1 was a hard day with lots of attacks for the first 90kms and then eventually a break of 18 got away with me in it then 5 riders joining with 20km to go. I attacked with 8kms to go but was caught with only 2km till the finish. The last 1km was up hill and my legs went with 300 meters left and I rolled over the line 16th.
Stage 2 I managed to get in the break again after 40km. the break was 5 riders but with only 3 working, we got the gap to 7 minutes at one point but it started to come back in. with 30km to go the gap was 4 minutes 30 seconds and no one from the break would work at this point and I kept riding and unfortunately we got caught with about 4km to go after been away for 110km. I managed to stay in the bunch and finish on the same time. While in the break I was able to pick up a couple of seconds in the sprints to move me up in the GC.
Stage 3 was a tough day with having 2 days of been in the break and there was a first cat climb 15km into the race. I managed to get over the climb and stay in the bunch later in the stage attacks started going with around 20km to go I got into a move with my team mate. This move didn't stick and was caught with 10km to go. I finished in the bunch along with  2 of my team mates.
Stage 4 was a 195km and mainly flat day. A break went from km 0, the team got a rider in the 4 man break and the break lasted until 2km to go. The race was sketchy in the middle with it been an easy day and people were switching off. This cause a few crashes and one of the crashes took down 4 of the team including myself. I was able to get up quickly and sort my bike out myself. I got back in the race within a few kilometers. Unfortunately this crash made 2 of the team lose too much time and started to draft and got disqualified.
Stage 5 is the queen stage of the tour with 4 categorized and 200km. The weather was awful on the start line with high winds and heavy rain, not ideal weather conditions for the up and coming stage. An early break went and I was able to bridge to it with a team mate. The break was around 15 riders and stayed together over the first climb. On the second climb of the day the pressure went on and the break split, I was able to make the front split on the climb. My plan was to get over the last climb before the break was caught as I'm not an out and out climb. The final climb was mainly a dirt road and unlucky for me the break was caught with around 3 km to go to the summit of the final climb. I lost contact with the leaders on the climb and crested the climb in the second group. the descent and run in to the finish was very windy. The descent started with a strong head wind which was nearly stopping us and it did actually cause riders to stop. Then we turned and it was a fast tail wind and we were hitting speeds of 100kph. Once the road flattened off the pace was high with such a strong tail wind, the wind was changing from tail to cross all the way into the finish. With around 25km to go the cross winds were strong and pushed the echelon to far across and put 2 of us in the gutter including myself and we lost contact with the group. It was really hard to get back on due to spinning out the biggest gears we had. I eventually finished 6 minutes 30 seconds behind the race winner, I was 24th on the day and was sitting high up in the KOM competition.
The first cat dirt climb! Very grim!
Stage 6 was the shortest day of the tour at 126km long. I had an easy day this day just following the wheels then sat near the front for the rest of the day.
Stage 7 started with a rolling coast road where the pace was high from the start. The first climb of the day shelled a lot of riders and the race stayed on all day. The break was caught too early with 20km to go then the attacks started and a group of 5 got away and stayed away. I was on the front working to try bring it back for me team mate in the sprint. He ended up getting 4th in the bunch sprint and 9th on the stage. It was a shame we couldn't get them 5 riders back.
Hotel kit washing life!
Stage 8 started with a climb straight from km 0. I was feeling full of cold before the stage and suffered up the climb just holding on to the bunch. Shortly after the summit of the climb I punctured and had to chase back on through the convoy. I was spent most of the day in the back third of the bunch. I got near the front before the final cross wind section but got swamped just before the left hand turn and the race split to bits. I managed to make it up to the second group on the road. This group finished 2 minute behind the winner who won solo.
Stage 9 was another day of survival mode and trying to get round in the bunch which I nearly did until a 1 kilometer to go where I lost the wheels from been too far back.
Finally stage 10 and the race started with lots of atacks with a break going after 30km and then the race was controlled by the yellow jersey team. The break was coming back until the yellow jersey had a mechanical, this caused everyone to neutralize the race and wait for the yellow jersey. While the race easied the break went back out to around 4 minutes, with around 50 km to go. The break was not caugh and I finished in the bunch after a hard day of racing while ill.
The race was a great experience and I learnt a lot from it. I also met lots of new people and made some new friends. This is the great thing about cycling meeting new people and seeing new places.
Overall the race went well getting 22nd on the general classification, 5th in the young rider classification and 5th in the KOM classification.

Illness after Morocco hit me hard with the cold going to my chest and developing into a chest infection. This caused me to have to drop out of the tour of the reservoir unfortunately. I had time off the bike and aimed to be better for Rutland Melton Cicle Classic. I wasnt 100  percent going into it though.
Rutland Melton Cicle Classic UCI 1.2
Four of us traveled down on the Saturday to ride some of the sectors as a race recce.
Attacking at Rutland
On the day of the race the weather was cold but dry. As always the laps around the reservoir were sketchy and there were lots of crashes. On lap one I had an attempt at getting way which came to nothing then shortly after the race was neutralized then stopped due to a bad crash that happened on lap one. While the race was stopped the cold got to my chest and started my cough off and then I couldn't stop for the rest of the race. I was still in the bunch the first time over somerberg but that was the end of my race due to a badly timed puncture. It took me around 5 minutes to get a spare wheel and with that time lost to the race it was game over.
Somerberg sector just before puncturing.
Onward and upward to the next race.
Thanks for reading this months blog.

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