Tour of Romandie
Tour of Romandie was my first time in Switzerland, and I was pretty excited about it. And it didn’t disappoint! From the moment we landed in Geneva to the train ride over to our hotel, the countryside is truly spectacular. We arrived on a nice sunny day, and it did cross my mind that the nearby snow covered peaks did seem REALLY ‘nearby’ and I’d wondered how cold it would be if the sun wasn’t shining.
It didn’t take long for me to find out, as rain starting during the prologue and lasted until stage 3. It was the coldest weather I’ve ever had to race in, and at least it can’t get much worse than that! (Maybe could have been worse if it was blowing a gale). Guys who raced the epic snow affected Milan San Remo a few years ago said that stage 2 of Romandie was worse. The stage was already shortened, starting 20km further down the valley to avoid the snow which we slept in overnight. The stage started dry, but then rain developed. As we raced higher and higher, things became colder and colder, and the rain turned to snow. Before I knew it, the garmin was reading -2. Not so much of a problem if the stage finished and we raced up the hill. But we had a long descent ahead of us, and then over an hour and a half of more racing.
I have to say it’s hard to stay warm whilst descending at over 60km/h with sleet hitting your face at -2 degrees, regardless of how many layers you have. I went back to get my second Gabba, but had major difficulties trying to put it on, especially getting the sleeves over the snow gloves I had on. In the end, I had to take off the gloves on to put the jacket on, but then my hands froze. My next challenge was trying to get my gloves back on without any feeling in my fingers. My mouth became a useful tool for pulling them on, but it took a while. Some others trying to do similar things stopped to get their jackets on, and spent a long time making their way back through the cars, or not making it back at all. One rider crashed, and had to DNF with a fracture as a result. Another suffered some frostbite around his ankle. The shower was a painful experience, but I was glad to be on the bus warming up at the end of the day, with better weather to come.
In contrast, stage 4 was beautiful. Cadel Evans showed his face at the start before we set off for 160km over a couple of Cat 1 and 2 climbs covered in snow. Except this time, the sun was shining and it wasn’t too cold. The racing was hard, so we didn’t have too much time to soak up the surrounds, but it was hard not noticing. You just need to check out a couple of photo galleries from the day to see what I mean. (I’ll try to source some later today and post on social media).
As for the racing, I was travelling along pretty nicely until we hit the final climb on stage 4. Overall I felt like I was feeling good most of the week, but the body kind of hit a wall. Maybe it was the impacts of the -2 degree stage 2, and not eating and drinking enough once the cold hit. My food was hidden under the layer of new jackets I put on, and not easily accessible. Nor did I particularly feel like eating or drinking as my whole body was uncontrollably shaking – but the problem is that you also burn a significantly larger amount of calories in this state. For a three hour day, it shouldn’t have been too taxing, but maybe it did more damage than I realised. Who knows.
What I do know, is that it was an experience. Despite the terrible weather, I had a good time in Switzerland – the most expensive country in the world! Take a guess at how much a bottle of 750ml sparkling water sets you back during dinner…
As always, thanks for the support and following my racing!
Full results: http://www.procyclingstats.com/race.php?id=171025