Rider in red

I have had a busy couple of days. Tuesday we held our second meeting on next year’s Brevet Kivilev which we’re hoping to run as both a cyclosportif (timed) and a randonnee. Offering both should attract a wider field of entrants but will involve much more work and expense, the feasibility of which we’re currently exploring. This was followed by the regular Tuesday meeting where the licence renewals are started to trickle in.

Of course, four hours down the club meant I had to watch the highlights of that day’s Vuelta. Tuesday’s stage 4 totalling 183.8km from Malaga to Valdepenas de Jaen, was another hot day which included 3 categorized and 1 uncategorized climb plus a very steep ascent to the finish line. The heat and intestinal troubles accounted for yet another rider, Mark Cavendish’s wing man Bernie “The Bolt” Eisel abandoned, putting in jeopardy his participation in Melbourne.

Omega-Pharma Lotto led the chase to pull back the 4-man breakaway to protect Phil’s red jersey. The peloton splintered on the last col of the day with Katusha trying to set up “Purito”  for the win. The main contenders, apart from Sastre, were in the first group over the hill and down the other side to the last leg sapping climb of the day which looked to be well over 20%. It was won by Igor Anton ahead of Vicenzo Nibali and Peter Velits. As a consequence, Igor Anton moved into 2nd place behind Phil, with Joaquin Rodriguez in 3rd. Both are 10 seconds behind the leader.

Wednesday’s 198.8km stage from Guardix to Lorca commenced with a minute’s silence to honour Laurent Fignon, who sadly passed away the previous day. The media has been full of tributes for a rider much admired for his panache on the bike and his humility off it. Sadly, I never saw the “Professor” ride but I much enjoyed his commentary on French tv. He wasn’t a man to mince his words.

1960 - 2010 RIP

Wednesday was slightly cooler and while there were no cols to speak of the terrain was pretty much up and down all afternoon. The 4-man breakaway was hauled back in 12km from the finish line thanks to the efforts of the sprinter teams. Cavendish started his sprint too soon and provided Tyler Farrar with the perfect launch pad. They finished, in order, Farrar, Koldo Fernandez, Cavendish. No change on GC.

I meanwhile had spent the morning riding over to Monaco for another VO2max test. There was good news. I have lost weight, lost fat and improved my endurance. I think I’m going to concentrate on improving further these three aspects over the autumn and winter months. This means that exclusive subset of riders who weigh more than me will become much more inclusive.

Today’s Stage 6, a lumpy, 155km from Caravaca to Murcia, the home region of Luis Leon Sanchez (and Alejandro Valverde) saw the inevitable break away taken back into the peloton on the last ascent of the day. A number of the sprinters had managed to stay with the lead group and duked it out on the line. Thor Hushovd, resplendent in his Norwegian jersey, beat Danieli Bennati and Grega Bole. Phil maintained his grip on the leader’s jersey but it’s still far too early to rule out any of the favourites.

Positively sizzling

Yesterday, I was even busier (is that possible?) than the day before. We were having a BBQ at the club for all the volunteers without whom the club wouldn’t be able to stage any events. Of course, it’s always the same crowd who volunteers and this is one small way of saying “thank you”. My beloved kindly offered to cook the sausages and chicken on the BBQ and his efforts were much appreciated by the assembled throng. Here’s a picture of him looking dashing in my plastic frog apron. 

He wields a mean pair of tongs

Spending the club’s money is not the same as spending one’s own. I confess I never, ever look at the price of goods in the supermarket but the last two days I have done the rounds of the super and hypermarkets snapping up every deal going. Two for the price of one, 3rd item free, 2nd at 50% – that’ll do nicely, thank you. This means I have ventured into places I never normally frequent, such as Lidl. 

Everything is now ready for transporting at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. My checklist has been ticked off and, as ever, nothing, but nothing has been left to the vagaries of chance. There remains just one thing left to do. I have to break the bad news to my beloved that he’s got to order a taxi for tomorrow morning. He’s now relaxing down by the pool, which I have yet to visit this year, so he should be in a good mood when he returns. 

We rode together this morning, while it was still a little fresh, on one of my favourite Saturday circuits. My beloved remarked that he’d never seen me ride so well up the hills. See, all that training is paying off. 

I managed to catch the highlights of yesterday’s 228.5km Queen stage  from Oswiecim to Terma Bukowina in the Tour of Poland. As I switched on the TV none other than Johnny Hoogerland and Gorka Izaguirre (last seen winning the Ordiziako Klasika) hove into view, remnants of the early breakaway. They were absorbed by the peloton which, led by Garmin, withstood a number of subsequent, well-timed attacks. Finally, Bauke Mollema launched a solo attack on the final ascent of the day to record his first ever Pro-Tour win. He’s now 3rd on GC behind Grega Bole (2nd) and Dan Martin (who grabbed yellow on Thursday). Johnny Hoogerland looks to have sewn up the KOM jersey and the sprint jersey.

Postscript: On today’s final stage, despite the downpour,  the podium remained unchanged. Well done to fellow Brummie, Dan Martin, on his first of, no doubt, many Pro-Tour wins.

Postpostscript: My beloved took the news well. Did he want to leave for the airport with me at 05:30 or with a taxi at 06:30? No brainer really.

Busy as a bee

As per the cycling programme, this week is one of rest, recuperation and rejuvenation. I only have 41/2hrs of cycling spread over three days. Now, as I’m always telling my beloved, there’s no point in having a training programme if you’re not prepared to follow it to the letter.  This rest period fortunately coincides with preparations for the week end’s Ronde du St Laurent du Var and our club’s pointage. I would have liked to have ridden the Ronde, but we’re desperately short of volunteers, so it’s all hands on deck. My aim would have been to avoid being lapped more than once. The training in the Basque country on all those short steep hills would have been perfect preparation for the Ronde, but sadly we’ll never know.

I have something of a logistical problem. While Tom II, my beloved Smart car is surprisingly spacious, I have to drop my beloved husband off at the airport early on Sunday morning. There is room in the car either for all the food for the pointage and the apero after the Ronde, or my beloved. Yes, I think we know who’s going to be getting the boot!

I was rather disappointed with the fare provided at this event last year. You know my motto, “never knowingly under-catered” so I have taken charge of the catering this year. I have already made some of my “famous” pain d’epice and banana bread to enliven the usual pointage spread and plan to make some savoury cake to supplement the other nibbles for the apero. There’s no way we’re going to run short of food this year!

There’s a number of stage races taking place this week (Burgos, Portugal, Denmark, Poland) and yesterday afternoon I finally caught up with the Tour of Poland, which has been moved from September, no doubt on account of the weather. As I switched on the transmission, Johnny Hoogerland was up front in a breakaway. I’ve not seen too much of him this year largely on account of Vacansoleil’s lack of invites to the stellar events. However rumour has it that they’re looking to beef up their roster next year and are after one of my favourite Spaniard’s, Samu Sanchez (pictured below). They obviously feel he will be their ticket into those afore-mentioned stellar events.

Samu

One of Johnny’s team mates probably endured some good natured ribbing over the dinner table yesterday evening. After Johnny had been absorbed back into the peloton, Marco Mercato took off with a rider from Saxo Bank. The race finished with 3 circuits of the finishing town but either Mercato hadn’t looked at his route book or he can’t count. He sprinted away from the Saxo Bank rider,  raising his arms as he crossed the finishing line for only the second time. He realised his error too late to avoid the advancing peloton. The stage was instead won by Mirco Lorenzetto (who also took the leader’s jersey) ahead of Lampre team mate, Grega Bole. Today’s a very lumpy stage so the leader’s jersey will probably end up on someone else’s shoulder’s this evening.