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Abu Dhabi Tour

14th October 2015

Wow. What a week it has been!

Racing in the Abu Dhabi Tour with Drapac Cycling has simply been an unreal experience. With 10 World Tour professional teams and the rest made up of Professional Continental teams, the start list filled with some huge names and I got the chance to climb on stage 3 with the very best in the world. Peter Sagan was wearing his rainbow stripes for the first time. Fabio Aru, Tom Dumoulin and Esteban Chaves were coming off very strong Vuelta a España performances, and other big teams including Team Sky, BMC and Movistar came with some very noticeable riders.

This was ranked as a 2.1, but only because as a UCI regulation, races in their first edition cannot be ranked higher and it is expected this will have a HC if not WT ranking in the future.

That being said, I was extremely happy to come away with 13th overall on the GC, and 4th in the young riders classification. There are many highlights from the week, here’s a few of them:

Staying in a 6-star resort in the middle of the desert. It was my first time I’ve visited the middle east, and I’ve enjoyed my time here. Before the start of stage 1 we had to drive two hours into the desert to stay at this very high end resort. We were escorted around via golf buggies, and the buffet there was the very best I’ve experienced on tour thus far. The place was euphoric. I couldn’t help but smile when I entered my room, and to be honest I was a little bit sad going to sleep knowing that we would be departing and heading back to the Crowne Plaza on Yas Island for the remainder of the tour (which was also a very nice hotel). There’s not a whole lot to do at the resort other than go for a camel ride or sit by the pool, but it had a very authentic Middle-Eastern feel about it and was very relaxing!

Start of stage 1 riding past our luxury hotel

Getting rolled by Philippe Gilbert on stage 3. I would have preferred to beat the former World Road Race champion, (and I would have also preferred to win the tour for that matter). Gilbert was dropped earlier than me on the 11km climb, losing ground early but working his way back up and getting on my wheel with 1km to go. He stuck it in the big ring and held me off to the finish. I survived long enough in the front group to experience Nibali attack the reduced group with about 5km to go. It hurt, and that attack was when I lost contact with the front of the race. My heart rate was at 204 bpm, and I couldn’t sustain the level of effort required to hold the wheel. The most exciting thing is that I truly believe I can improve on this result and become more competitive. I know things are different in a race, but looking purely at my data, my power output for the climb wasn’t bad, but I know it can be better.

climbing Jabel Hafeet

climbing Jabel Hafeet

Watching Boonen Crash. I don’t mean that it was a highlight for me to see him crash. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he is alright, but I am simply thankful that it wasn’t me as I watched him flip over his handlebars. Simultaneously Theo Bos came down on my left, and I think his bike fell on my leg. This was the only crash I saw for the entire tour and I narrowly avoided it. (It was caused by some large bits of debris on the road). There were a few moments that were a little bit sketchy and would probably have resulted in a big crash if it weren’t for these guys being so experienced and good at handling their bikes.

Theo Bos on the left, Boonen on the right, me in the middle!

Theo Bos on the left, Boonen on the right, me through the middle!

Yas Marina Circuit. We raced around the F1 Grand Prix circuit on stage four at dusk. The racing around the race track was fast, averaging 46km/h for a little bit over two hours of racing. Each team was given a garage in the pits where riders got prepared before the stage start and the mechanics could work on bikes. This was the same area the F1 riders would sit in their car prior to racing. It’s just a shame the grandstands weren’t filled with spectators, but the TV coverage looked really cool with the lights on. Apparently there was live covering from on-bike cameras being used for the first time too.

Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit

Learning about the United Arab Emirates. When you travel to different parts of the world, particularly for the first time, it can be a real eye opening experience. It seems like there is no middle class here, only extremely wealthy people or those who struggle to make an average income. We went shopping in Yas Mall which is absolutely huge with high end retail stores and had barely any people in it. (I bought a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Head Phones for the flight home. I’m expecting plenty more long-haul flights in the future.) It really makes me wonder what drives the economy here. The rumours are that crude oil plays less of a part in the economy than most people think, and ironically the UAE actually import lots of sand. There’s not much farm land here.

Yas Marina Pits

Humidity. This place is HOT! Really, really hot!! I didn’t think it would be cold in a desert, but man was it HOT! Did I mention it was hot? One day there was so much humidity the cars needed windscreen wipers on despite the blue skies. If you took your iPhone out of your pocket, the screen would instantly fog over and you could play temporary games of Tic-Tac-Toe. Most stages had temperatures recorded on average in the mid 40’s. To be totally honest, I really enjoyed the climate here. I’m not saying this temperature is ideal, but I would prefer it to be this hot than freezing cold and snowing. I developed a little nickname whilst over here by the team: Little Ags. – Agostino Giramondo – One of the teams directors is notorious for layering up with clothing and keeping the air-conditioning turned off at all times. I admit my wearing a down vest jacket in 40 degrees is a little bit extreme!

The desert. Hot.

The desert. Hot.

Signing with Drapac Professional Cycling Team. And lastly, in case you missed it, I have signed with Drapac for next year and can now consider myself at a professional cyclist!! The team was very happy with my performance here in Abu Dhabi, and I had a great experience with the riders and staff as well. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch the announcement and interview from the latest Bike Lane S2 E3 here, online from SBS on demand. Here’s what I had to say about it.

“I am truly excited to be racing with Drapac Professional Cycling for the next two years as a Neo-Pro. The team has a really strong and diverse race program that will provide ample opportunities to race around the globe against the world’s best cyclists. I believe that I have unique attributes that coincide with the Michael Drapac’s three pillar philosophy of allowing athletes to perform at the highest level of the sport, whilst cultivating a pathway into life beyond cycling. I look forward to growing with the team, and cannot wait to race with Drapac Professional Cycling in 2016 and beyond.”

Thanks for reading,
BC

 

 

16 comments

  1. Great weork & well deserved BC & look forward to hearing all your epic stories and about your Krispy Kreme sponsorship 🙂

    1. Thanks Brendan! The Krispy Kreme sponsorship unfortunately isn’t on the table… Maybe should start my own production line

      1. Wouldn’t you eat all of the profits?

  2. Congratulations Brendan, great work, what a champ! TDF is next I’m sure.

    1. Haha maybe TDF is a long way if if it’s even there at all, but definitely making good progression towards bigger races like that

  3. Congrats!!

    Well written post too – interesting social / economic observations. You’ll get to make a lot more of these!

    1. Thanks Alain! Yeah I feel like I should learn more about the countries I visit whilst I am there in my down time

  4. Congrats Brendan. Really exciting watching you on stage 3 and with the new kit you’ll blend in on the peak rides
    a bit better.

    1. Thanks Alex, yes the red kit fits better with the Peak Cycles bunch rides 😀

  5. Was great to see you sitting in the group before Nibali’s attack, even the commentators were a little unsure who you were!

    Good luck with Drapac for 2016, it’d be great to see the team get an invite to a GT, but at the very least you should get some top level stage race opportunities to show off your TT .. 😉

  6. Good luck with 2016, would be great to see Drapac get a GT invite, but I reckon you’ll get plenty of gc opportunities in some top level stage races either way!

    1. Thanks Marcus! I think there will be plenty of opportunities this coming year too! …not sure about GT though

  7. Congratulations on signing with Drapac.

  8. Excellent report, Brendan. I forwarded it to all my cycling mates. I have just come back from a great weekend of climbing at Bright with the Salvo Riders, who are based in Box Hill and have more than thirty in their group. They would love you to come to their annual awards breakfast on 13 December and give short talk on the Abu Dhabi Tour, if you are willing and available. Coffee and breakfast free! Great if you could make it. You can contact me at garydowel@optusnet.com.au. Cheers mate

    1. Thanks Gary… I did see your ride up Mt. Hotham. That’s always a tough climb no matter how fit you are!!

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