Coppi e Bartali
Since arriving in Europe, it was a bit of a wait until my first race. It was great to have a training camp with the entire team following on from the TDU, but then there was a big block of time waiting.
Coppi e Bartali is a UCI 2.1 race, but still contained more than a handful of world tour teams, including team Sky, Orica Greenedge, Trek, Lotto Jumbo and Movistar. It also meant there was a bigger mix of pro-continental and continental teams, and also a wider range of ability. Five stages raced over 4 days with a TTT and an ITT meant that the stages weren’t very long, but it was still a taxing tour on the body.
The first stage, for example, was 98km and took just a little bit over two hours averaging 43km per hour. Lawson Craddock was in the breakaway of three riders who managed to stay clear and fight it out for the stage win. Craddock finished second, over a minute ahead of the Peloton and he was, therefore, the focus for the remainder of the week to contend for the general classification.
Next up, on the same day, was the TTT. We did a reasonable job, but midway through I made the mistake of thinking 6 guys were still rolling through instead of 5 and hesitated to get back on the wheel at the back of the line. This cost me dearly and had to put in an effort to get back on the wheel, leaving just 4 guys rolling through for the remainder of the stage. We don’t do too many TTT’s, and it’s one of the hardest disciplines of the sport to get right. By the end of the day, we had only ‘raced’ for a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes, but it took all day and by the time we got to the hotel everyone was pretty tired.
On paper, the following stage was going to shape the general classification. Only 130km long but with 3,000m of climbing, it was deceivingly hard. The race took three laps of a finishing circuit that included a solid climb, and a rather technical descent. It was on this descent that a group of 15 formed off the front. We had 3 guys in the front group, including Lawson, who were happy to keep the pace up. The split happened maybe three or four wheels in front of me, and it was frustrating to be so close but so far from a great position in the race. During the next lap and on the climb some riders managed to get across and back to the front of the race. I made my second mistake of not following some wheels with urgency, and never saw the front of the race again.
It was a great position with Lawson being at the head of the race, and he managed to get over the final climb in sight of the leaders. Unfortunately, he crashed with a few km’s from the finish, and so the hopes of taking the overall lead were lost. Otherwise, I think he’d have taken the jersey and the rest of the tour would have been a different story.
The following day was one to learn from, with our entire team missing the front split caused by Orica and Sky in the final 40kms on stage 4. We had tried two laps earlier to do the same. When we tried, it caused a little bit of damage with some splits, but ultimately things came back together. Things settled back down in the peloton, and there didn’t seem to be much nervous energy in the bunch. The next thing I remember seeing was Orica on the front, splits opening up everywhere, and spending the next hour swapping off without success. They put it in the gutter at a slightly different section of the circuit, and with a little extra fatigue in the bunch, the race opened up very quickly. Quite a few other big teams with GC hope also missed the split, and we never caught the front of the race.
The final stage was the ITT. I averaged slightly over 360NP watts for 21 minutes and was reasonably happy with how the body felt during the effort. The stage finished up a steep climb of 1.5km, which was where I saved a little bit on reserve, averaging over 400 watts for 6 minutes at the end of an otherwise flat time trial. In hindsight, I lost too much time early on the route and I should have paced it just slightly differently. I wasn’t satisfied with the ITT, but I wasn’t disappointed. It’s made me more motivated to spend time improving this discipline, ( which I had spent time doing a couple of years earlier and shown good progress), but unfortunately, there’s not too much time in the coming months.
It’s going to be very busy period! Next week is Pais Vasco (Basque Country) in Northern Spain before I will fly to Tenerife for an altitude camp. Overall it wasn’t a great week for the team, but I think it was some great experience gained… particularly with two time-trials and a good mix of road stages. The other good stuff to take away from Coppi Bartali is that the body felt pretty good, and I am confident my form is heading in the right direction!
Thanks for reading,