PORTUGAL STAGE RACE

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

After living in a caravan for a week at the Island Games it was nice to get back to York again and my own bed……but not for long.  A few days and I was off again.  This time to Portugal to race the GP Internacional Torres Vedras- Joaquim Agostinho, which is a 4 day UCI2.2 stage race.

I was told to be prepared for plenty of hills, and well it lived up to expectations….lots of them and steep nasty ones as well, Definitely not my kind of thing….well at least the sun was shining! 

Day 1 was 160Km with a Cat1 and two Cat2 climbs……The 1st cat climb was after about 30km and knew I had to get over that with the bunch, or at least a big group to not end up having a very long solo ride to the finish….it was an aggressive start and plenty of moves were going.  Eventually a big group went off the front with 3 Motopoints in which was good.  This was brought back on the climb though, I struggled on the climb and lost contact of the main bunch but managed to get back on, on the descent.  A group of 4 had broken away and had 2mins on the peleton, I attacked a lot to try and get across but couldn't quite make it, getting within 30secs.  Once the gap had gone out to several minutes, one of the local teams was on the front riding the break down and the pace was pretty high.  I again lost contact in the last 15km and ended up with a big group who came in about 20mins back….the finish was at the top of a 4km climb!

Day 2 was 190Km much of the same really.  We did the same 1st Cat climb as the day before but backwards and a 2nd cat was immediately before it…..This time, it was nearing the end of the stage though.  Today's plan was to get in the break, get up the road and get a head start for the hills…It worked out well, after about 10km I put in a big attack and forced a group of 9 clear.  It was a lumpy day and I was getting a bit of a kickin on the climbs from the others in the break. Most of them weighing about 10kilo less than me! But I got my own back on them, on the flat pulling some big turns to get the gap out….what goes around comes around!  Then we hit the proper climbs of the day.  We had about a 1.30min gap at the bottom, I got dropped by the break to ride my own pace and was caught by the bunch about half way up…..again I fell back and went over the top with a few others…..With about 40km to the finish it was a pretty leisurely ride in with more and more people getting caught or catching the group up until there was a big group of about 40.  I knew from the race book that there was a climb (yet again) to the finish.  When we got to about 2.5km to go it was like hitting a wall, it went straight up and very steep! Horrible way to finish a stage, it was hard enough just riding over it let alone racing! To put it in to perspective to Guernsey folk. It was like the top, steep section of Fermain hill probably steeper and went on for about 2km with only a few flatter sections! 

Day 3 160Km and a flat day……..Haha, yeh right.  On paper there was only a couple of 3rd Cats, nothing to worry about, you'd think.   What the book didn't tell us was there was about a millions other unclassified climbs, that defiantly should have been! It was a pretty flat start and I had planned to get in the break again, with a hill top finish, I thought I may as well.  I teamed up with Pete and we were having some fun on the flat, attacking and getting away several times together but the bunch weren't keen on letting us go.  Eventually we did get away in a group, but weren't allowed to get too much of a gap having a rider who was up there on the general classification with us.  He wouldn't drop back to the bunch and so everyone started attacking each other.  Still he kept bringing moves back.  Up the 3rd Cat climb, I nearly bridged the gap to the split but had the GC rider with me and wasn't going to drag him back upto the break.  I attacked him on the downhill but didn't quite get across to the break again, so it was back to the bunch.  Shortly after I got caught, the bunch started putting the hammer down on the climbs and having been dropped, thinking that was it the bunch sat up and I got back on.  With about 15km to go it started getting hilly again and I again lost contact.  My legs were tired; I rolled in with a small group about 10mins back.

Day 4…Today was 10 laps of a 10km circuit.  Only 100km you think….Only thing is, it went up a hill and straight back down….Not my thing.  My legs were really cooked having been in the break two days running.  It was a fast start. Up the hill on the first lap, they hit the climb hard with guys attacking off the front to try and get away…..Meanwhile my legs really had given up on me, I made it over the top just off the back of the bunch and managed to get back on about 3km before hitting the climb again…not having had much recovery, we hit the climb again and bang that was it, I got dropped like a stone….race over.  I wasn't expecting to finish that day as not many normally do on that circuit, but I was hoping to do more than that.  Obviously two days riding in the break had really taken its toll, I knew I had done what I could in the race so was pretty happy with how it had gone.

Since Portugal I have been back in York, I had a good few days training before having a relaxing weekend.  I had a last minute change of plan, and have ended up back at home in Guernsey for a week.  I'm resting up for a few more days at home before hitting the training hard to build up for the rest of the season.  I'm back to the UK for the National Crit Champs, before the next Premier Calendar in Beverley in just over two weeks.  Then we are off to Spain for a stage race, Vuelta a Leon which is a UCI 2.2.  

In other news, Check out the all new Ian Browns Cycle Shop website by clicking on the link below!  This is my local bike shop on Guernsey who over the years have given and shown me great support and I am proud to be associated with them.  They offer a unique order service which will give you free same day delivery (on Guernsey) of any in stock product to your work or home!! 

Thanks for reading, check back soon for another update!
Tobyn

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@TobynHorton