What next?

I’m meeting with my coach tomorrow to discuss the results of my most recent VO2max test and to formulate my objectives for the next 6 months. I really do feel I should concentrate on improving my technique and speed, plus losing weight. Sadly, post London-Paris, a few kilos have slipped back on, although the progression is still downwards. Thereafter, I can contemplate the forthcoming season of brevets, cyclosportifs and the odd race with a view to improving on this year’s performances.

The outlook for the next two days is wet, so I might well have to resort to the hometrainer. With this in mind, I rode this morning, in a fasted state, in lieu of a rest day. I didn’t ride yesterday as I was “on duty” with M le President, at the annual Sports Festival, trying to recruit members for the new cycling school. Gratifyingly large numbers of children (and their parents) expressed an interest. I also tried to encourage a few more lady members. 

Saturday, was a beautiful, warm, sunny day where you could see for miles, I rode with my beloved. We had opted for a fairly strenuous ride which combined my programmed hours and exercises for both Saturday and Sunday. He had returned home on Friday afternoon after a frustrating day spent in Basle’s airport lounge thanks to an initially delayed, and subsequently cancelled, flight. He departed again this afternoon, this time for Montreal: peace and quiet until midday on Friday.  

With M le President on a training course for the next two months, I’m going to be busy ahead of my departure for Australia, when the entire burden of the club will rest on the tiny shoulders of the Treasurer. I’m very keen that she should not feel overburdened. I am documenting everything (for the first time) so that she can specifically look after the licence renewals and the club website in my absence. 

Unsurprisingly, I have found time to dip in and out of the Vuelta which is proving to be engrossing. Nine stages where 9 different teams, and riders, have triumphed over the largely lumpy stages in soaring temperatures. Three riders on GC are divided by 2 seconds  while the next two are within a minute of those leaders. Other fancied riders have fallen further behind but the podium’s still within grasp given the profiles of the remaining stages. Team Sky, whose team members were suffering from a virus, have withdrawn following the tragic death of one of their staff members from septicaemia.

Mark Cavendish, despite not yet winning a stage, is gracing the points jersey. Yesterday, David Moncoutie, having won a stage on Saturday, was  in again in the breakaway seizing more KOM points to snatch the blue spotted jersey from Serafin Martinez’s shoulders. Philippe Gilbert, having done the red jersey proud for a few days,  surrendered it on Saturday to Igor Anton who, having crossed the line behind Joaquin Rodriguez, thought the latter would be wearing it. Not so, they were both given the same time and Anton has it on account of his better placings. On today’s rest day, this is how they stand on GC:-

General classification after stage 9
1 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 37:56:42  
2 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha    
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:02  
4 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:42  
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:52  
6 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:01:15  
7 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:01:18  
8 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:01:19  
9 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Caisse d’Epargne 0:01:22  
10 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:01:26  
11 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) Team HTC-Columbia

Scant consolation

On today’s stage, another hot one, 157.3km from Marbella to Malaga, I was willing one of the original 7-man breakaway to the finish line. But sometimes even our combined wills just aren’t enough.

Serafin Martinez (Xacobeo Galicia) having accelerated away from his breakaway companions on the big climb of the day, the Puerto del Leon, looked to have enough in hand over the peloton to win the stage, the leader’s jersey and the mountain’s classification. A holy trinity which would surely have ignited his career. Unfortunately, the peloton had other ideas and he was caught just under the flamme rouge.

The final ascent was reminiscent of the Cauberg and sure enough here was the winner of this year’s Amstel Gold, Philippe Gilbert, accelerating away from Vicenzo Nibali and Joaquin Rodriguez to cross the line in an imperious fashion. The stage and the leader’s jersey for Philippe and precious GC seconds for Rodriguez who finished ahead of Igor Anton. Serafin hung onto the mountain’s classification jersey.

Philippe looked mighty powerful today. He will be one to watch in Geelong where he now won’t have to share leadership of the Belgian team with Tom Boonen who, thanks to slower than anticipated recovery from knee surgery, will be watching events unfold from his armchair in Monaco. 

So how did my “men to watch” do today? Sadly, Ben Swift, and team mate John-Lee Augustyn, have gone down and out with a stomach bug. However Arthur Vichot, a viral superstar with a huge fan base in Australia, finished 10th on the stage.