Having put 2018 behind, it’s time to start talking about what 2019 has to offer. As some of you might know, one of my goals in cycling has been to do a stage race in Europe. And it’s more close than ever now!
Despite the fact that 2016 was the worst cycling-wise, it still was an important year. I graduated finally, years late, but graduated. It was also the first summer having a car, which meant day-trips to places on nice sunny days. I promised I wouldn't go into any details, instead I will share some pictures from along the year.
Inhale. The cranks turn, pedals absorb the power, finally transmitting it to the wheels, turning them with an almost silent hum. A few gentle clicks and the rear derailleur smoothly moves the chain further on the cassette. Exhale. I grab the handlebars tight and pull myself out of the saddle. I feel the bike respond to my every action. Acceleration is smooth, yet effective. Every move has been exercised so many times, there is almost no energy lost to the thought. Inhale. I gasp for more air.
In August we lost a great friend, a true cycling enthusiast who lived and breathed cycling. Marko Vauhkonen (29.10.1965 - 8.8.2015) dedicated his life to cycling and he was a tireless worker. One wish Marko had was that a charity ride would be organized in his name, where part of the income would go to leukemia research and the other half would go directly to support the Finnish junior cyclists. During last week these events were organized throughout Finland and I'm sure Marko would have been proud to see the so many riders participate.
It's been a while since I've been talking about training and everyday activities. I also have some race-reports waiting to be written. A lot has happened and it feels like summer really flew past us faster than any previous version. My racing season is over for this year, and preparations for season 2016 have already begun. This summer was twofold in many ways. There were many ups but they seemed to be followed most often by immediate downs. We also lost a great soul this summer.
Many of us, including myself, have found our way to cycling watching Tour de France on TV. It has been possible to watch cycling live on Eurosport and national TV channels in some European countries for many many years. Today the services are widespread and it's possible to watch almost any cycling race, anywhere with a mobile device. There has been some exceptions though, including the Finnish cycling races. Fortunately the passion for cycling has brought a change to that.
Yet another weekend behind, a weekend without racing this time. It was a weekend introducing riding in shorties and the first long ride for the year. A long ride means more than 5 hours in the saddle, at least that's what I read, so first one of those this year. Some great weather and first real tan-lines for the seasons are reality.
My Facebook news feed was filled with road cycling pictures last weekend. Those pictures were taken by cyclists who had enjoyed the great weather. I too enjoyed the sun and had a pretty good week of training, some 15 hours in the saddle and plenty of sunshine. Riding outside, spending longer times in the saddle actually felt super good and the body adapted to it immediately. No fatigue whatsoever. No looking at the Garmin 810 to look for how many kilometers I had tracked or how many hours I got left until I could head home. Just pure enjoyment.
Today was like yesterday, but the the sun was finally visible! In November in Finland that means it will be colder. And cold it was. On the countryside the temperature was below zero. I was kind of prepared. I had triple shoe-covers, neoprene toe-covers by Castelli, water and wind resistant summer shoe-covers and on top neoprene shoe-covers. Still, approaching the second hour in the saddle my toes started to freeze. But I managed to do almost 3,5 hours without bigger problems.
Yesterday was a proof of the power of thought. I went out for a ride, and halfway I realized my saddlebag was left home. I'd been training on the trainer already for a week and therefore removed it. Well I thought, I only had one or two punctures this year, I can't have that bad luck it would happen just now.
A month ago I got some news that made it uncertain whether I could train for next season or not. That would mean, next season would be just one of getting back to shape. On Friday I got to know, that event won't take place now, and will be postponed until spring or autumn, or in best case not take place at all.
Fincycling season is well on its way, and so far the team has been racing in Estonia, Finland and Poland. Next up is a stage race in Finland this weekend (AHH etappiajot) and Switzerland (46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud) next week. Aleksi Hänninen, Niklas Henttala, Lauri Koski, Erik Relanto, Jaakko Hänninen and Antto Tunkkari build up the Fincycling team in AHH etappiajot and the team representing Fincycling in 46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud is Aleksi Hänninen, Niklas Henttala, Lauri Koski, Erik Relanto, Antto Tunkkari and Marco Tapio Niemi.
As a small wrap up from the early season start here is a small recap of day 2 in Turku a couple of weeks ago, part 1 you can still find here.
After a great day one and a successful gala-evening Fincycling was ready for day two, TS Kortteliajot in Turku, a real spring classic in Finland. Every team and rider in Finland wants to win this race, and usually it ends up in a bunch sprint. Team Fincycling was having five riders for the race, Sasu Halme, Aleksi Hänninen, Antto Tunkkari, Waltteri Lepistö and Arttu Suvisaari.
It was great to see the guys executing the tactics set up for both days and they really made the race hard for everyone. Experience is what is needed to win, the boys are on their way on the learning curve, and having seen the attitude the whole team has it is a promising start indeed.
So let's wish our guys the best for AHH etappiajot and the 46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud next week.
Fincycling press release - spring 2014
Kilpapyöräily ry., founded in October 2013, has started the season 2014 with a great pace. The association aims to lift the Finnish cycle racing scene to a level where it deserves to be – it’s after all one of the most popular competitive sports in our neighboring countries. The founding members of the association (27 members) have all achieved an internationally successful career, and some are still active in the world of elite cycling. Such members are Jussi Veikkanen, Kjell Carlström, Charly Wegelius, Joona Laukka, Mika Hämäläinen, Jukka Heinikainen and Kimmo Kananen – to name a few.
Ambitious goals were set up for the first season: 16-18 year old junior cyclists from national teams around the country will be participating in both international and top national races, resulting in some 65-70 race days during the 2014 season. The operations are made possible by dedicated voluntary work by the founding members and by the financial support from the sponsors, SKODA, Helkama, PowerBar, Sportful, Shimano, EuroSport, Polar, dmp, Javatrans and Leijona-tuote. During the 2014 season, at least 14 boys will participate in international races, following the international rules of attending with a six man strong team in each race.
The first kickoff was held with 14 boys at Solvalla Idrottsinstitut between January 31st and February 2nd. The aim of the camp was to inform the boys, their coaches and parents about the project and what it would be all about. Charly Wegelius (Garmin-Sharp), Kjell Carlström (IAM Cycling), Kimmo Kananen (Shimano), Jani Paju (Fustra), Juho Suikkari and Marko Vauhkonen all acted as instructors during the weekend. Focus was also set on the comprehensive training programs and the professionals shared their knowledge with the coaches. As cycling is a sport where proper set-up and equipment matter, the boys were instructed about the importance of an accurate bike fit and the impact it can have in both comfort and efficiency on the bike. These instructions were provided by Shimano Nordic and Fustra. The technical and tactical aspects were also highlighted and presented both with interactive conversations and through watching some interesting videos. The importance of nutrition during both training and racing was equally highlighted. Fincycling team is energized with PowerBar products.
Our boys made a trip to Estonia during Easter. The team consisted of Simo Terävä (16), Jonne Itkonen (16), Jaakko Hänninen (17), Ville Hirvenoja (17), Walteri Lepistö (18) and Lauri Koski (18). In Estonia we lived and trained together with the National Junior cycling team of Estonia who live and train in Audentese Sports-school in Otepää. A race was also scheduled for Sunday, a national race with 271 cyclists at the start line, among them ex-professionals and team Alfa Baltic, a professional team from Latvia. The Fincycling team started off well and the boys executed and followed the pre-planned race tactics all the way. A good effort was rewarded with a great 14th place for Waltteri Lepistö (5th in the youth classification). Toomas Kirsipuu, a legendary Estonian ex professional cyclist was also impressed by the Fincycling team effort. Toomas, who today actively supports the local junior cyclists, also participated in the race and therefore closely followed the Fincycling team in action.
April 26th and 27th marks the official cycling season opening in Turku, Finland. Fincycling took part with a team consisting of Aleksi Hänninen (18), Sasu Halme (18),Waltteri Lepistö(18), Antto Tunkkari (18) and Arttu Suvisaari (18). Charly Wegelius, former world-class professional cyclist and today one of the sports directors at Team Garmin-Sharp flew to Finland and joined the team on Saturday morning. Charly Wegelius was the sports director for team Fincycling during the weekend. Having such a person in the team as Charly gives the boys in Fincycling the best possible guidance and support on their way to the world elite. The race tactics was again executed close to perfection and our rider Aleksi Hänninen was in the 12-man breakaway, which went all the way to the finish. The race was won by a Latvian professional rider, Maris Bogdanovics, and Aleksi finished 10th overall being the best junior.
The Finnish spring classic, Turun Sanomien kortteliajot the following day was another good performance by the team. The race plan was executed once again well, and especially Sasu Halme had a strong day in the saddle being at the front throughout the race and fighting at the final bunch sprint. TWD-Länken, the number one road cycling team in Finland this time had more riders and a stronger team and made a good leadout for the winner Ilari Kahila. Sasu Halme crossed the finish line as 7th rider and secured the junior overall win with Aleksi Hänninen taking overall second place for team Fincycling (Pavel Sveshnikov 3rd).
During the weekend Kilpapyöräily ry. also organized a cycling season 2014 - opening gala as a part of financing its own operations. The work done by the association has drawn a great attention in significant cycling countries, therefore many professional teams and cyclists donated valuable items for an auction held at the gala. Items were donated by reigning road cycling world champion Rui Costa (Team LAMPRE-MERIDA), Team SKY, Sylvain Chavanel (Team IAM Cycling), Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Sharp) and the reigning Finnish road cycling champion Jussi Veikkanen (Team FDJ.fr) to mention a few. The project also awoke interest and enthusiasm, which culminated in the auction.
–A great project to support our youth, educating both internationalization and cycling at the same time, Marko Toivonen, Sales Manager of DMP Diesel added.
He became the owner of a valuable Team Sky signed jersey.
The first international race, La Coupe du Président de la Ville de Grudziadz (UCI 2.1), was ridden in Poland between May 1st and May 5th. The race included 5 stages with a total length of 408,1 km.
A UCI 2.1 race is the highest category for juniors where only national-, Team- and clubs can attend. 176 riders, 36 teams with 10 nationalities entered the race. A major part of the roads were in bad shape, which would make the race really hard. Aleksi Hänninen (18), Marco-Tapio Niemi (18), Lauri Koski (18), Waltteri Lepistö (18), Arttu Suvisaari (18), Erik Relanto (17) formed the Fincycling squad with Mauno Uusivirta as soigneur (former professional cyclist with both Olympic and world championship experience) and Marko Vauhkonen as sports director.
Few Fincycling boys have international experience. The objectives were to work well as a team and use the knowledge learnt during winter and spring from both Kjell Carlström and Charly Wegelius. The race began with a 12, 5 km team time-trial, Marco-Tapio was the only boy to have previous experience of a team time-trial. With a great support from Mauno Uusivirta who has lots of experience of team time-trials the team ended up with 21st place having an average speed of 49, 8 km/h, a really good effort. The following stage was ridden that same day and the rest of the stages in the coming days. Fortunately the condition of the roads was a bit better towards the end. Unfortunate was that two boys did catch a cold in the really chilly weather.
Sports director Marko Vauhkonen was really pleased by all the actions during the race. Attitude, willingness to learn and team spirit could not have been better.
– I really got emotional when I watched our boys execute everything they’ve learnt during the project so far, a really great way to show their respect for all people involved in the Fincycling project. The race in Poland was a great boost in the team self confidence, to the grade where Fincycling actually dominated the race events during the last stage. The whole team worked really hard to push Aleksi Hänninen to a podium place and top 15 overall position that day. Despite hard work, this time the goal was not reached, but the confidence within the team really grew a lot. Experience and confidence are key success factors in developing as a team and a cyclist.
The goals set up for the rookies before the start of the race:
1. Placing among the top third in the team classification. 36 teams started (5-6 man teams) where only 24 managed to finish the race, Fincycling being the 12th best team.
2. At least one cyclist should finish in the top quarter in the general classification. Aleksi Hänninen managed to take 39th place in a very hard race among 124 riders (176 cyclist started the race)
Now it’s time to rest, go to school and prepare for future races. The next race will be between May 24th and May 25th where team Fincycling will participate in AAH Etappiajo, a Finnish national stage race (Elite) in Hyvinkää. When the race in Hyvinkää is finished, the team will immediately head for the next race in Switzerland, where they will participate in 46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud UCI 2.1 between May 29th and June 1st.
Marko Vauhkonen 0400 375 864
Part 2 of the cycling weekend in Turku will be released soon, stay tuned! You can find Part one here.
Enjoy Giro and cycling!
Fincycling opened the national racing season last weekend in Turku.This is the first part of the race report from the weekend and includes the story from Simo Klimscheffskij’n muistoajo - race on Saturday (and loads of pictures and a video). The second part will cover the following day of racing - TS Kortteliajot on Sunday.
Saturday began with the team arriving to Turku at around mid-day. The team for the weekend was built up by 5 guys, Sasu Halme, Aleksi Hänninen, Antto Tunkkari, Waltteri Lepistö and Arttu Suvisaari. Usually the team consists of 6 riders but this time Jaakko Hänninen was unfortunate to be ill just before the race and couldn't participate.
Marko Vauhkonen would serve as the mechanic and Charly Wegelius, also known as the sports director of Team Garmin-Sharp would be the sports director for Fincycling during the weekend. So again, the boys would have a highly skilled and experienced team to back them up.
After a proper briefing by Charly Wegelius, it was time to change to race outfit. I have to say this team kit is really good looking. Not to mention it is the same quality Team Tinkoff-Saxo is racing.
The race would be in Hirvensalo, just outside of Turku, this served as a good warmup for the guys, some 6 km to spin the legs before the race would start.
The race would be 73 kilometers long and be ridden on a circuit with a length of 4 kilometers. The finish would be on top of a 800 m long hill, hard after many laps riding it over and over again.
The race was pretty hectic. On each lap there was at least one breakaway attempt, and the Fincycling guys did a great job in having at least one cyclist at the front at all time, catching up those breakaways. And on one lap the breakaway was succesful, and there was Aleksi Hänninen working to form a proper gap to the peloton.
The final climb was hard as expected and blew the legs out of many riders. Aleksi managed to hang in the last hundred meters and finished 10th. The other guys did tried to attack from the peloton in the final lap but didn't manage to create a gap to the peloton, and finished with the main group. All in all, a strong ride by the whole team, the boys were riding like men.
The next part will cover the Finnish spring classic TS Kortteliajot. Last but not least a little sneak peek in the Fincycling team car where Charly Wegelius gives instructions to Aleksi riding in the breakaway.
Note! If you do want to use any of the pictures, please contact me!
Fincycling, the cycling project started by Kilpapyöräily ry. is really moving forward in a great pace. The first race in Estonia 18th - 21st of April is just behind the corner and this is the first time we will see the young boys competing in their Fincycling equipment. Not long after that we will see the boys competing in Turku, Finland where also I will be reporting from. This will be the 26th and 27th of April, with Simo Klimscheffskij muistoajot on Saturday and TS Kortteliajot on Sunday.
Besides these races, on Saturday 26th of April a cycling Gala will be held in Turku. Present will be some big names from the world of cycling as well as influential people in Finland. During the evening some of the names in the Fincycling team will be presented. To support the team, an auction will be held. There are some great items in this auction, for instance the current road cycling world champion jersey by Rui Alberto Faria da Costa, just one great item to mention. All the proceeds from the auction and the Gala will be used to support the Fincycling cyclists. If you have any questions regarding the Gala, you can for instance shoot Suomen Pyöräily nousuun facebook page with a message. The official invitation (in Finnish) you can find here.
Another great thing for supporting the Fincycling team is the Kjell Carlström pyöräilyleiri (Kjell Carlström cycling camp). This is a training camp held in Solvalla idrottsinstitut 1.4 - 4.5.2014 and is a complete package with information about nutrition, how to train right, equipment, how to ride in group and much more. The coaching will be done by professionals such as Carlström himself. This is a unique chance for any active cyclists to improve both knowledge and results with the help of real cycling professionals. More information is found in Finnish and Swedish.
The program for the Fincycling team for April-May looks as following:
- 18.-21.04.2014 Team camp + Karksi-Nuia rattaralli EST 26.04.2014
- SK Muistoajo Turku FIN 27.04.2014 TS Kortteliajo Turku FIN
- 1.-4.05.2014 Président de la Ville de Grudziadz UCI 2.1 POL
- 16.-18.05.2014 3-Etappen-Rundfahrt der Junioren UCI 2.1 GER
- 24.-25.05.2014 AHH Etappiajo Hyvinkää FIN
- 29.05-1.06.2014 Tour du Pays de Vaud UCI 2.1 SUI
It is great to see the Fincycling team gain more and more attention all the time, and it will be really exciting to have the race season opened soon. Besides the Fincycling team schedule, these young boys also compete for their local cycling teams in Finland. So a lot of racing coming up for the young cyclists. And as we all know, that's the only way to make progress and that's the way to do a name for yourself if you want to become a professional cyclist. These boys are on the right track. Let's keep the wheels turning!
Read more about the Fincycling official launch here.
Enjoy and stay tuned!
It is an awesome feeling being back riding the road bike outdoors. Rain or shine, it beats the indoor training easily. Getting back that feeling of acceleration and the sound of rims humming on the asphalt, wow. It has been really windy lately, but neither has that affected the positive vibes on the bike. Really looking forward for the first races this year, that's the first point of really knowing about the progress made this off season. After a business trip to Stockholm earlier this week I got ill with some really heavy flu and a temperature. Still struggling with that, so no time in the saddle this week. I'll again share what's been going on lately with pictures instead of writing a novel.
Another passion I've had since a kid is aviation. So I do geeky things during my trips on the airports, for instance following planes on an app (flightradar), tune in to the air traffic control radio frequency and watch them land live.
There are loads of great things happening in the world of road cycling. Paris-Roubaix this Sunday and many great races have been ridden during the past few weeks. Also the Finnish road cycling project, Fincycling, is progressing with great speed. I'll write more about Fincycling in my next post. So stay tuned!
Have a great weekend!