Volta a Catalunya 2.WT; “Welcome to the World Tour”
As I climbed onto the team bus 28 minutes down on the winner of Stage 6 in Volta a Catalunya, a few of the guys had already showered, eaten recovery food, and were on their way for a massage. Pierre Rolland who had finished in the front group had a bit of a chuckle and a grin on his face saying “Welcome to the world tour”… but not to worry, as he has rarely seen any stages on the biggest level play out such as stage 6.
I missed out on time cut by less than a minute, along with 45 other guys, and packed my bags one day early for Girona.
It happened about 30km into the start of the 188km stage. There was a short climb, followed by a technical descent. I didn’t feel like the descending was particularly fast, and it didn’t feel stressful or anything. It must have been a bit quicker at the front of the peloton however, because by the time I got to the bottom, race radio popped up saying the peloton was split in four groups. Chris Froome was in the second group, and the rest was history.
Various teams got to the front and started riding, leaving Froome and team Sky chasing for the proceeding 50-60km until they decided that were never going to make contact again with the front group. They were about 1-2 minutes behind for a nearly 2 hours before they pulled the pin on their efforts. Meanwhile, another group behind that bunch, was myself and 45 others. We had 150km of hilly terrain to ride together, and let me tell you it wasn’t a stroll in the park.
Despite being in ‘groupetto’ and finishing over 28 minutes down, for all those who use TrainingPeaks, that file still racked up over 300TSS. Most of the other road stages were somewhere between 250-280 TSS for 4-5 hour days. Just imagine what the front end of the race did! I heard rumours of numbers closer to 400 TSS!! My effort in the Australian National Road Race earlier in the year was mid/low 300’s, just to put things into comparison.
So in summary, it was a hard week! After not racing since Cadel’s Road Race in early February, it was a little bit of a shock to the system, and I felt a little bit like a moped merging onto the freeway. I am confident that the week of Catalunya will yield some benefits down the track, although it was still disappointing to have a long time preparing and not performing to my expectations or capabilities. Still, there’s plenty of races around the corner, literally. I pin a number on tomorrow for a one day race GP Indurain in Pamplona.
Besides the racing from Catalunya, there are two main experiences that I want to briefly mention…
Firstly, was that I finally got to jump on the team bus. I think it’s nearly worth a post on its own, but I have always been jealous of seeing all the big World Tour team buses, so it was great to finally be able to use one. And it lived up to expectations! I ALMOST wished our transfers were a little bit longer. Two high pressured, hot showers, very comfortable seats, toilets, kitchen, coffee machines, plenty of space, lounge space down the back.
The other was having a team chef. We stayed at some nice hotels, and we stayed at some less nice hotels. This meant that some of the buffets looked great, and others seemed less appealing. However we never touched the buffet all week, as our Chef prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner all week. Sean the chef and his partner were cooking out of a small converted van which had a fully equipped kitchen facility in the back, “meals on wheels” type of set up and it was easy to see why the big teams have opted for this type of system. Buffet food can be great, but it can also be a great place to get sick on tour. Plus the quality of food can vary, so at least with the chef, there’s a consistent high level of good quality food. And there was also a great variety too, with something different every night.
Speaking a bit further on food, my current book I am reading is “Gut: The inside story of our most under-rated organ” which so far has been insightful, and brings lots of meaning to products such as Pats-Veg fermented vegetables, or our sponsor SoundProbiotics. My mate Ed Green always gives me crap when I reference something as a ‘superfood’ or lecture him about things like gut health, or the difference between eating white bread or sugar. True, I don’t actually know too much about it, but this book is definitely going to add a little bit of credibility when I tell him he should eat a fermented cabbage…
Thanks for reading,