kjell carlström

Fincycling ready for 2015

Fincycling ready for 2015

It has been a great couple of weeks with a lot going on around Fincycling. As I am writing this, the team is heading for Otepää, Estonia for the second training camp this spring. The first training camp was held in Tikkurila between March 21st and 22nd. Another important event, a press conference, was held on Monday March 30th. A new team and new sponsors were introduced and the event was well noticed by the Finnish press. In this article you can read about the first training camp, the Fincycling 2015 team, the schedule for 2015 and about the Fincycling press conference. 

Fincycling press release - spring 2014

Fincycling press release - spring 2014

Web IMG_5204.jpg

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.

Lecture by Charly Wegelius

Lecture by Charly Wegelius

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.

Team Fincycling training in Estonia

Team Fincycling training in Estonia

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.

Fincycling in Turku

Fincycling in Turku

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).

Fincycling working at the front

Fincycling working at the front

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.

SIgned Team Sky 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.

Fincycling in Poland

Fincycling in Poland

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.

 

Further information:

 

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!

Team Fincycling season opening just around the corner

Fincycling_logo

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.

The Fincycling kit has arrived, more will be revealed soon ;)

The Fincycling kit has arrived, more will be revealed soon ;)

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

Picture by http://www.iamcycling.ch/pro/en/

Picture by http://www.iamcycling.ch/pro/en/

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!

Fincycling officially launched

The project launched by Kilpapyöräily ry, to lift the Finnish competitive cycling to a level where it deserves to be at, was finally publicly presented yesterday. Fincycling.com is the site where you will in the future be able to find all about the Fincycling Team and the progress. Of course I will be closely following this team and the project as well. To have such a professional and experienced squad including big names in cycling, both nationally and internationally known names (Carlström, Veikkanen, Wegelius, Laukka, Kananen and the list goes on and on) makes this project really stand out.

Minutes before the press conference

Fincycling is a great example of what passion and will can create. The people involved have invested a lot of their spare time and money to this project, for many it is about giving back to cycling what cycling has given them. It is with great warmth and joy I watch this project progress day by day closer to the season start.

All smiles!

It was also great to see that media had found interest in the project, our national public broadcasting channel YLE also presented Fincycling in the evening sports-news in both Finnish and Swedish. Link to Finnish here and in Swedish here

Kjell Carlström's jersey was handed over to the Sports Museum of Finland 

Marko Vauhkonen telling us about the project in detail

Good stories shared

We also connected with Kjell Carlström, live on stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico with 120km to go.

In a couple of months the Fincycling team has taken great leaps forward, and knowing the pace and the passion for the ones working on this project, we are surely going to see some great news in the upcoming months as well. 

Fincycling fact sheet:

  • Builds on the work of Kilpapyöräily ry founded 19.10.2013
  • Includes 27 enthusiasts, 4 Tour de France participants, 11 Nordic Championships medals, more than 600 national cycling medals (and the list goes on)
  • Provide young cyclist with a complete assistance package including for instance; personal coaching and training, tutoring, providing assistance in building relationships with media, fans and sponsors, mental training and much more
  • Begins with boys 16-18 years old, but will grow to support both genders and also other cycling sports such as track and mountain biking
  • First year will consist of 10-12 international races with some 40-60 international racing days
  • The door will be open for all potential boys in this age, there will be a rotation in squads going to the different international races
  • Budget this year 160 000 €

The Fincycling team car

So stay tuned, the season begins in April, I will keep you updated!

Pedalare pedalare!

Matteo Pelucchi wins stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico

IAM Cycling has had a great start for the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014. Stage 1 yesterday (TTT) was a solid performance by the whole team. IAM Cycling crossed the finish line having an average speed of 52,7 km/h losing 50 seconds to the winning team. After the stage I spoke briefly with Kjell Carlström and congratulated about a solid performance. Kjell was pleased with the performance, but said that they have room for improvement. I also asked about stage 2, would that be a stage for Pelucchi and is he in good shape. With a smile he gave me a short answer and stated that Pelucchi is in okay form but will face a hard competition.

IAM Cycling on stage 1 (picture from iamcycling.ch)

IAM Cycling on stage 1 (picture from iamcycling.ch)

Matteo Pelucchi (picture from iamcycling.ch)

Matteo Pelucchi (picture from iamcycling.ch)

And today Matteo Pelucchi did just that, he won the stage 2 with a really outstanding performance in the last 100 m. The last kilometers were really hectic and with just 10 kilometers to go we saw a crash in the peloton. Fortunately IAM Cycling was already well positioned at that time. I had the chance to talk to Kjell after the stage and this was also the plan for IAM Cycling, to be positioned somewhere close to the front well before the finish line. "We had discussed the importance of being in front and the guys executed it perfectly". With just less than 3 km to go we also saw Kittel go down. I asked about if these are situations that you as a sports director inform the team about. "It was not necessary at that point to inform the riders, even if a stage winner favorite goes down, it's up to the riders to do what they do best and to focus on their own thing. Especially that close to the finish, you don't want to confuse the riders".

There were several teams trying to build up a leadout train, but all of those attempts were unsuccessful. It was almost chaotic at times, as it tends to be close to the finish line at a sprint stage. At a point it looked as if IAM Cycling riders could be trapped on the left side of the bunch. I asked how IAM Cycling had planned the last km and if they tried to do a leadout for Pelucchi. "A leadout was not our intention, we wanted to bring Pelucchi to a good position for the final sprint, and they riders performed exactly as we had planned. Sprints are always hectic and one moment you can be trapped and a second later you might find a perfect gap to break through for a sprint. When it comes to the final kilometer and meters it's all about your instincts and trying to feel how your legs are and to decide when to launch your sprint. We've been close many times this year, but today we finally got all those pieces right".

Crossing the finish line (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Crossing the finish line (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Watching the final 100 m on TV, one could see that Pelucchi first had to move sideways from left to right and then round Greipel from the right side. He actually tracked more meters than many other riders in the final 100 m. According to Carlström there was a slight headwind and Pelucchi managed to time his sprint perfectly taking advantage of Greipel's rear wheel. A solid performance by a young sprinter. "It was really well done by Pelucchi and the whole team leading Pelucchi to a such a great position. And of course a great honor to win in front of the home crowd, taking his first big victory in Italy. At the same time it is a big moment for the whole IAM Cycling team, winning on this level". 

You can read an interview and reactions by Matteo Pelucchi himself on IAM Cycling website. This victory he dedicates to Kristof Goddaert.

“This victory is for you, Kristof.  I gave everything I had to have this chance to dedicate a win to you up there, from where you are looking down and watching us.”-Matteo Pelucchi - IAM Cycling website

"This victory is for Kristof" (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

"This victory is for Kristof" (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Tomorrow is a new day of racing, but after such a great victory I assumed the team will celebrate the win somehow. "Yes, the riders will have a glass of wine at dinner, but tomorrow will be a new and a hard day in the saddle so no more than that."

About stage 3, how is IAM Cycling targeting that, another stage win tomorrow? "It will be a hard day and the final short hill is really hard. Of course we have several cards to play now, but it will be hard. There might also be a chance for a breakaway tomorrow, if a group of 8-10 riders can build up a breakaway that could go all the way. Of course we will look out for those. But for the final sprint, if there's no breakaway we can have Haussler, Elmiger and maybe Pelucchi to go for it".

So tomorrow will be really interesting. IAM Cycling has now achieved at least one of their goals set up, taking a stage win. A good TTT performance was another, maybe that's already two goals achieved? You can read about the other goals in the previous interview with Kjell Carlström here

So stay tuned for stage 3 tomorrow, live at 14:30 CET on Eurosport. And hopefully we will see some more great performance by IAM Cycling. 


Enjoy!


IAM Cycling - before start of Tirreno-Adriatico 2014

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Tomorrow it begins, the 2014 edition of Tirreno-Adriatico "race of the two seas". Together with Paris-Nice it is one of the first really big stage races in Europe for the season. As a fan of this race I'm really looking forward for it to begin. I had the opportunity to talk to Kjell Carlström before the start of Tirreno-Adriatico. This year Carlström is directeur sportif for IAM Cycling together with Marcello Albasini and the expectations are set pretty high.

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Teams for Tirreno-Adriatico together with Paris-Nice can be built up by grand tour cyclists targeting Giro d'Italia or Tour de France, but for IAM Cycling the team is built up differently: 

"Our riders consist, for both Paris-Nice and Tirreno, of classics riders, preparing them for upcoming classics as well as GC riders. In Tirreno we also can target some sprints. For us the goal is not to prepare the riders for Giro or the Tour."

Having names such as Haussler and Löfkvist in the lineup, IAM Cycling is a strong team. According to Carlström the team is able to perform well and maybe even surprise some of us watchers, but the main focus is on doing a good race and sticking to the game plan. Even if there are really strong teams and cyclists around, IAM Cycling will not focus on them.

"Our goal for Tirreno is to do a good team time trial, win a stage and have one rider in the top 10 GC. I'm satisfied if we fulfill these goals and I do believe we can hit it".

The weather for Tirreno this year seems to be rather good, and Carlström does not believe weather conditions will play a great role this year.

"Even if there can be windy sections along the coast, I don't believe it will affect the outcome too much. Probably it can reduce the amount of riders in the peloton, but nothing significant".

Tirreno-Adriatico this year has plenty of time trials. The race begins and ends with a time trial. Stage 1 will be a team time trial and the last stage an individual time trial. In grand tours we've seen time trials have been of key importance for the last few years. As Carlström mentioned, a good team time trial will be important for the team. 

"We've done a couple of extra training days here in Italy and several TTT-specific workouts with the team. We've also ridden the TTT stage several times with the team in order to find the best tactics and technique for the route". 

Cycling in Italy often means cycling in the mountains, Tirreno is no exception. Stage 4 and 5 will be stages for climbers. IAM Cycling has not been doing any specific training for these stages but Carlström admits the latter part of stage 5 with a climb up to Passo Lanciano and an uphill finish will be really hard. Looking at the lineups and the route of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico, there is according to me no doubt that it is a harder race than the Paris-Nice and Kjell Carlström feels the same.  "I agree to 100%".  There are many strong teams and riders, Richie Porte, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Michele Scarponi (Astana Pro Team), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) just a few to mention. No doubt this will be a great race.

The results so far this season has not been the best for IAM Cycling, but Carlström states that it has still been okay. "Most of the cyclist are building form and are close to reaching the first top form for this year, so we can really expect good things to happen now".

Looking at the IAM Cycling lineup for Tirreno-Adriatico and especially Haussler, Löfkvist and Elmiger one could say they do have a slight positive upswing in results and shape even if they, according to me could still have done more. Carlström admits that this is partly true.

"You might be right with that, but then a little luck could have changed a lot. Many of our riders have shown really good training results, but of course races are races and many things needs to go right in order to win."

As a final question to Kjell Carlström, I wanted him to describe the team IAM Cycling we will see in the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014.

"A really tight team working well together and a team that will fight well against a hard competition"

Tomorrow we will see the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014 and the race will be broadcasted by Eurosport starting at 14:30 CET each race day. 

Below some links for more information:

 

Interview with Marko Vauhkonen - Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry

Interview with Marko Vauhkonen – Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry

 

As some of you might remember I wrote about the Finnish cycling project that aims at lifting our road cycling future to a whole new level. We have a strong history in endurance sports such as cross country skiing and running, but in cycling we've never been able to reach a level such as our Scandinavian neighbors Sweden, Norway and Denmark has. One could blame it on the weather conditions, but that doesn't make sense since our neighbors have the same conditions.

I’m really happy and at the same time super excited about this new project that will hopefully have a huge impact in our cycling culture and finally help our young talents to reach the top elite in cycling. Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry (freely translated Finnish Cycle Racing association) was founded by 27 members not just anybody, but by the cycling elite in Finland including such names as current professional cyclist Jussi Veikkanen former professionals Charly Wegelius (directeur sportif, Team Garmin Sharp) and Kjell Carlström (directeur sportif, IAM Cycling Team) who are both still involved in the professional cycling today.

Just last week I had the opportunity to meet one of the founding members of Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry., Marko Vauhkonen. Marko has a strong background in cycling, as one of his best personal achievements as a cyclist he mention the year 1984 and the Nordic championships (track) where he took a bronze medal. He has a strong background in international cycling as well, having experienced both European and world championships in both road- and track cycling.

Marko Vauhkonen - Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry.

I was really excited to meet him. Since I hadn't heard a lot about the project, but I knew there were many really big names behind it, I knew it would be big. We took a coffee and sat down, I thought it would be an hour, but I guess it took more than two and a half hours at the end. I guess when you have two cycling freaks talking about cycling, you shouldn't assume such things.

The 27 names behind the project are:

Juho Suikkari, Kimmo Kananen, Kjell Carlström, Jari Vanninen, Peter Selin, Patrick Wackström, Sixten Wackström, Marko Vauhkonen, Mika Hämäläinen, Kimmo Karhu, Oscar Stenström, Tauno Hietala, Peter Klimscheffskij, Vesa Rauttu, Pertti Linna, Jouni Hakala, Joona Laukka, Jussi Veikkanen, Harri Hedgren, Veikko Sinisalo, Juha Poutiainen, Kari Myllymäki, Vesa Mattila, Jukka Heinikainen, Christian Selin, Charley Wegelius and Jyrki Tujunen.

Many of you recognize some or most of of these names for sure. So after a "short" introduction of presenting myself to Marko and vice versa, I was eager to know how and why this project got started? It was easy for Marko to answer this question.

“For years we've seen many of our young talented riders struggle to get to the top, and there has been none or little support for these talented young riders. Last autumn I got a phone call from Juho Suikkari and together we decided that this trend can’t continue, we need to do something in order to bring cycling to a level where it deserves to be in this country. And with the current resources and investments, we knew it would be next to impossible to do so. So we decided to act, and more or less, that was the start for this project. Of course it took us a couple of days to send out invitations to a first ever meeting, but we were efficient and in just a few months we had started a project, made clear plans and started our work.”

It struck me how fast everything was built up. This of course is just a sign of how passionate these guys are about cycling and about their will to really do something important and big for cycling. At this point I was eager to know more and tried to take in all information possible.

Q: What are the main goals for the project?

“We want to look at this, not just as a single thing that will take our youth quickly to the top, but as a complete learning experience for our young riders. We have a clear mission to build sustainable, competitive and healthy youth. Money should not be an obstacle for anyone and our mission is to help, support and advice young riders how to be independent and help them gain international experience, which is such a crucial component in being successful.

Cycling races were won by individual efforts back in the 1930’s, but today you win and lose as a team.

All of us involved, we have a strong knowledge in the world of cycling all the way from the early -80’s, and we want to share that experience with our youngsters. We really want to emphasize the fact that cycling is a team sport more than anything else. We want our riders to really feel and internalize that what you give to the team, you’ll have back doubled. A team is as strong as its weakest link. Cycling races were won by individual efforts back in the 1930’s, but today you win and lose as a team.

And it’s not just about cycling, we of course want to prepare the youngsters for a life at the top, but also prepare them for a life after cycling, because we all know there is one. At some point the youngsters will grow older and hopefully they will be role models for the next generation of cyclists. It’s a complete package. Besides this we of course want to encourage everyone to ride their bikes and raise awareness about the sport itself. What also needs to be said, we are not competing with any national cycling clubs or the national cycling association in Finland (Suomen Pyöräilyunioni), we are here to support the youth together with the other clubs and the national association.”

All of that makes sense, right? Think about being a young rider and having a team like that behind you, supporting, sharing thoughts and advice with you. Being together with your role models and having them support you must be a “dream come true” for any athlete.

Q: What can you tell us about the support and visibility of the campaign so far?

“We’ve had a great start visibility-wise. Both Facebook and Twitter have attracted many followers without any big marketing so far. For social media we also have many great things to come when the season starts. We will also have some “visibility” in TV, and some stories will be shared along the cycling broadcasts for instance on Finnish Eurosport. We also have some great sponsors already with us, for instance Solvalla training centre (Solvalla idrottsinstitut - Solvallan urheiluopisto) where we also had our first training camp.”

So at this point, having the backgrounds I really wanted to know more about the cyclists, the team the first training camp, well everything. I tried to hold myself together.

Q: About the team, can you tell us more about the age group, what type of riders you have selected and how is the selection done?

“So a project life-cycle is 4 years and the target age group is 15-18 year old riders. We want to keep the “doors open” for everyone. For this year’s team we've been looking at last year’s results and gathered the cyclists who had the best results in their respective age groups. We will be competing with a 6 “man” strong team in each competition and we have 3 in reserve for each race. We do not classify or categorize our riders, we select them to each race separately and have a rotation on the lineups. We go into every race with a mentality that we can win that race, we give 110 % each time we are competing, as a team and on an individual level. If we see that there are other talented guys outside of our group who are improving and racing well, we keep our doors open for them of course. At that age there are huge differences in how the boys develop, some might develop at an early age, some might show their talent years later. That's why I say we keep our doors open, and that's the only way to go. “

Q: In social media we saw a couple of weeks ago pictures and some stories from your first training camp. How was it, what was the agenda and how would you sum up the training camp?

“Honestly, I’d say it was as good as a training camp can be. No, actually it was even better. It was one of the best training camps I've seen and experienced content-wise in my life. Probably it was so rich in content that the youngsters weren't able to assimilate everything, but if they were able to memorize 30 % of what was said, they already took a great leap forward as cyclists. Besides great lectures and support by Kimmo Kananen, Kjell Carlström and Charly Wegelius, we had an individual bike fit for the guys, surprisingly all had to make some adjustments in their positioning on the bike.

Inspecting the proper positioning (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

Inspecting the proper positioning (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

We also had the opportunity to have Jani Paju with us, who introduced Fustra to the guys. Fustra has been a success in many countries and is also used by the top elite as a way to improve especially your core strength. In cycling, Fustra is used for instance by IAM Cycling Team.

Time to Fustra! (picture from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

Time to Fustra! (picture from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

We also focused on activities that were not related to cycling where the focus was on building team spirit. And I think we nailed that as well, better than expected.

First training camp at Solvalla (picture taken from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

First training camp at Solvalla (picture taken from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

The lectures were interesting and practical and our days were filled with action. Basically we got up at 7 AM and had a full schedule until 22 PM. We learnt how to get a bottle from the team car properly, safe and efficiently. We also went through how to take advantage of bad situations such as punctures. As Wegelius pointed out several times, no panic, use your brains!”

Lecture by Wegelius (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

Lecture by Wegelius (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

As a final question I wanted to know when we’ll see a Finn on the podium, either in a spring Classics race or on a grand tour. Marko didn't need to think for long.

“ 2016, Mikko Paajanen. He has had a really good off season this year, and according to his own words he has never been in as good shape as he is now. I’m confident he will be the next big Finnish cyclist.”

And so, two and a half hours later we realized it was already pretty late. Time goes by so fast when you talk about cycling. I’m really excited to follow this project, and having heard many details I cannot yet reveal here, I’m looking forward to a year in cycling I've never experienced before. It was also really great to meet Marko, such a great person! I will be reporting about the project as it progresses so stay tuned! We will see the new team compete for the first in Finland in Turku, April 26th and 27th. So stay tuned for updates, there will be some great news, I promise you that!

Links:

 

Wrapping up first month of Road Cycling-14

January is the month when we get that small distant taste of a new road cycling season with The Tour Down Under and pro cycling teams showing up new gear and team colors. For me January often is an indicator of what the upcoming year might bring. The first FTP tests, weight reduction in order to even further work on the W/kg ratio and really starting to build for the upcoming road cycling season. 

Ice hockey and trainer seemed to be the agenda for January training

Last year I had a pretty good start, and looking at statistics this year I haven't been doing as much. No gym so far, managed to do some core training and qualitative training on the trainer and also outdoors, so cycling wise I think I'm still ahead, and I feel that as well in the legs. Looking at the previous FTP test, that also indicates I'm on a good way and in head of last year's numbers.

Food was another theme, especially eating smarter

There are several other great news in road cycling during January. IAM Cycling Team has been invited as a wildcard to the Tour de France 2014, Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné. Even if they didn't got the invitation to the Giro d'Italia 2014, the dream of making two grand tours still live since IAM Cycling team looks forward to hit the Vuelta as well this year. You can read the whole article here. These invitations are also in line with the expectations that Kjell Carlström mentioned in an interview with him earlier in January

January has also brought some great news for Finnish road cycling. The project "Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun" has advanced and now the "Suomen Kilpapyöräily Ry" will continue to work on the first ever attempt to really bring together our promising youth and bring them to the top of professional road cycling. Behind this movement are great names such as Kjell Carlström and Charly Wegelius. One could say, a new era in Finnish road cycling has begun. Read more about it by following Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun Facebook page.

Kjell and Charlie teaching our youth! (picture from  Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun facebook page )

Kjell and Charlie teaching our youth! (picture from Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun facebook page)

I will let you know more about this project as it progresses.

 

Enjoy your weekends!

Interview with Kjell Carlström, IAM Cycling Team

Kjellinterview.jpg

A week ago I chatted with Kjell Carlström and we decided to meet in Turku. I’ve been fortunate to get to know this former Team Sky professional cyclist currently working as Directeur Sportif (DS) for the Swiss IAM Cycling Team. Kjell has also been motivating and coaching me in my training and because of that I have been able to develop as a cyclist, both mentally and physically. So as you all know, it is always great to meet such people, this time was no exception. Also, talking with people who share the same interest, hours easily feels like minutes. I of course was eager to hear everything about the switch from a professional cyclist to a directeur sportif and all the latest about the team.

Q: What were the highs and lows from the first year, season 2013:

A:  Well there was a lot happening during 2013, but definitely the big disappointments of the year were the fact that IAM Cycling was left out from both Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. But thinking about those now a year later, they really wouldn’t have fit in our program for the year, and maybe it was better the way it turned out. Of course also bad luck for some of our riders such as Löfkvist was unfortunate.

Looking at the good things, there are many of them. We got a really good start in Qatar with Martin Elmiger battling for stage win on stage 1, finishing second on that stage. Of course Martin had a superb year and we were really pleased with the progress he made, and especially he was a really solid rider all year. Of course Bayern Rundfahrt was a good race for us with Stefan Denifl winning the mountains jersey, Heinrich Haussler winning stage 5 and the whole team performing really well and having both Martin Elmiger (9) and Marcel Wyss (7) at the GC top 10 and winning the team classification. We had a good year, but this year, we want to win even more.

Q: So what about your own ambitions or goals for the coming year?

A: I always wanted to win a grand tour. Before as a cyclist, and now as a DS. And even if we did have a good first year, I want to strive to be even better and do things better and more efficient as ever before. There is a lot to do, and that’s why I like this job. You can never be completely ready or done with what you do. It’s about the whole process. We’ve implemented the Fustra training method, and we’ve been really happy with that. Many riders have added this method to their routine, and we do see results as well. And sure, we do have some new things coming up…

At this point he gave me that laugh, you know when you have a secret you know will make a difference and sure, will be revealed at some point because it will end up in good results.

Let’s see what that is, it will be big, he continued laughing.

I realized it would be meaningless to even try to know what that is. So I didn’t ask more, just laughed along. We’ll see…

Q: What are the differences of being a pro cyclist and working together with pro cyclists?

A: It’s a totally different point of view that you have. As a DS you really need to be able to think in wider paths, you need to be able to think about the cyclists, things as a whole. When you plan or execute, you need to be able to see the whole picture from all angles. What seems logical for a cyclist might not be logical in the big picture, and sometimes it is hard to communicate that. At IAM Cycling, we try to talk and listen to our guys as much as possible, yea we do talk a lot.

Q: Goals and important dates for this season, which cyclist do you expect to step up and how is the team built up?

A: We have some important races we want to target with certain riders. The whole season expectations will be a mix of individual races and grand tour ambitions. The main goal is to be on the Tour this year, to win at least one stage, have the yellow jersey or have at least one rider in the top ten GC. We target to have at least one of these happening on the Tour, of course we are glad to nail them all! We have several riders who are able to target these goals. It’s are a huge advantage for us since we have a strong team with many good riders this year.

Of course we also want to win a classic in the spring, and we all know the biggest one is Paris-Roubaix. We have a really good mixture of riders for the first half of the classics and this gives us possibilities for building a great strategy in order to win. We have for instance Chavanel and Haussler, both really experienced and strong riders. Reichebach and Pelucchi have both good sprinting capabilities; we expect them to show up as well. Frank and Wyss both are able to step up this season too; we really have a wide range of cyclists who can, on a good day, win any race. Of course Löfkvist have all the possibilities to ride really well. He was really unlucky last year, we just need to change that and he can really have a successful year, he has made some great improvements lately. And Elmiger, huge year for him. He proved he can perform and this year he has some great targets where he really can win, and we really do believe this can be his big year. As a whole I see many of our riders to step up this year and reach a solid performance on high level.

It is also important that we don’t classify our young riders at a too early stage. Everyone needs to get opportunities to show what they can do and what they are best at doing. Too many become domestiques because they are classified as domestiques at an early stage. We don’t want to do that.

Q: Any comments on the Tour de France 2013 and what do you expect from the Tour de France 2014?

A: Well, the 2013, I expected Team Sky to perform and Froome to win, I had no doubt about it. For me it didn’t kill the interest in the tour, but maybe it didn’t offer the greatest excitement. It seemed that many teams had given up already before the race started. And the Alp d´Huez stage showed us all that even the Team Sky riders can be beaten, they’re humans as well.

For the 2014 edition of the Tour, Froome is of course the favorite. But it will be more interesting, because I don’t think Team Sky will be as dominant this year. Will be interesting to see how the Schlecks, Contador, Nibali and Rodriguez can do. There are many strong riders and teams such as Garmin and BMC. And maybe someone else as well…

Again a laugh from Carlström, I think he just mentioned IAM here.

The media pressure on Team Sky is huge, and it might affect how they ride and put a really hard pressure on all the riders there.

Q: What do you think about your former team and roommate Chris Froome?

A: He is a great guy, really down to earth and I wish him all the best of luck of course. During the time I spent with him, I really don’t have one bad word to say about him. Well in the beginning, before becoming a big name and grand tour winner, he really struggled with keeping his head with him when cycling. It was often just full speed and all out efforts instead of thinking of race tactics. But once he got that part in shape, well the rest is history as we know.

Q: So what is your relation to cycling today, do you still ride your bike and do you sometimes think it would be great to be racing?

A: I do ride, but not much these days, maybe less than 1000 km a year. Yet another laugh by Kjell. Well it would be great to race to win, but when I think about the amount of training it would mean, no I don’t want to get back there anymore.

It could be great to be able to go back 15 years, and try to do things differently. Not of course that I regret the things I’ve done, but I think it could have been of great importance to be able to believe in myself even more. That could have changed many things for me as a professional cyclist.

Suddenly the lights blinked. I realized the restaurant was closing and it was already 10 pm. I also realized I’d forgotten about my food and that there was still plenty of food left on the plate. Hours really can be minutes.

I will try to follow more closely on the IAM Cycling Team progress this year, and every time I have the possibility I try to catch up with Kjell to hear the insiders from races if possible. So stay tuned!

 

Links:

Team IAM Cycling website

Team IAM Cycling facebook page

Team IAM Cycling Twitter

Fustra

 

Weekend ahead, wrapping up January

The first month of the year is behind. It was a good training period and I had some good results as well. Without yesterday's minor back injury at the gym, the month has improved my aerobic fitness as well as strength and power. It's the result of both slight reduction in weight as well as increased power output.

A snapshot from my W/Kg progress (without revealing any numbers ;) )

A snapshot from my W/Kg progress (without revealing any numbers ;) )

The next real progress test will be in just a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to that. A bit concerned about yesterday's minor injury, but hopefully it's just a minor strain. Will try a ride today to check how it responds to training.

Mornings with the morning paper, coffee, NHL and news

Mornings with the morning paper, coffee, NHL and news

The awesome thing about stepping into February is that it is probably the single last month of pure indoor training! However, contrary to last year I'll probable be training indoors until April/May to sustain and increase the power abilities.

In the cycling world we've seen the Pro Tour kick off. Tour Down Under was won by the 23 year old Dutch Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling Team). We also saw Andre Greipel take 3 stages with huge sprint efforts, Team Sky working hard for Geraint Thomas and a huge effort by Finnish FDJ rider Jussi Veikkanen hitting the top 10 with 10th place! The next big race will be the Tour of Qatar that'll kick off on Sunday. It's the first big race for the new Swiss Team IAM Cycling, and the first test for Kjell Carlström as a directeur sportif! 

Keeps you going

Keeps you going

I also found a great site for all you interested in the Pro Tour Cycling scene! The site is www.procyclingstats.com and in there you'll find everything from stats, riders, routes and races. This is the database we've been waiting for, check it out!

Click to open PCS website

Click to open PCS website

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Keep on riding ;) (source:  Ville-noire )

Keep on riding ;) (source: Ville-noire)

Team IAM Cycling presentation

It is the time of the year when all the cycling teams bring out their new cyclists to the front with their new equipment, bikes, jerseys, rims, you name it. Most of the pro tour teams have released their new cycling kits, but today was one interesting launch by the Swiss Professional Continental team, Team IAM Cycling. I've been following this team closely because of Kjell Carlström is one of the team directeur sportif, and I'm lucky to know this really nice guy from Finland. Spoke with him just yesterday about the upcoming training camp on Mallorca and the season start. Loads of really interesting stuff. Maybe I could make a small interview with him in the future to introduce you to the team IAM Cycling and what's happening behind the scenes. Below are some pictures from today's official launch. All the pictures are taken by Guillaume Boillot and you'll find his blog on  with more really nice pictures!

Team IAM Cycling (Photo by Guillaume Boillot)

Team IAM Cycling (Photo by Guillaume Boillot)

The Team IAM Cycling kit. I really like the colors! (photo by Guillaume Boillot)

The Team IAM Cycling kit. I really like the colors! (photo by Guillaume Boillot)

Rear view of the jersey (photo by Guillaume Boillot)

Rear view of the jersey (photo by Guillaume Boillot)

Team IAM Cycling will ride Scott bikes (Foil & Plasma 3) (photo by Guillaume Boillot)

Team IAM Cycling will ride Scott bikes (Foil & Plasma 3) (photo by Guillaume Boillot)

The cyclists for Team IAM Cycling are:

  • Marcel Aregger
  • Marco Bandiera
  • Matthias Brandle
  • Rémi Cusin
  • Stefan Denifl
  • Martin Elmiger
  • Jonathan Fumeaux
  • Kristoff Goddaert
  • Heinrich Haussler
  • Sébastien Hinault
  • Reto Hollenstein
  • Kevyn Ista
  • Dominic Klemme
  • Permin Lang
  • Gustav Larsson
  • Thomas Löfkvist
  • Matteo Pelucchi
  • Alexandr Pliuschin
  • Sébastien Reichenbach
  • Aleksejs Saramotins
  • Patrick Schelling
  • Johann Tschopp
  • Marcel Wyss

Many of you will recognize world class riders on this list, and it will be really interesting to see how the team will do among the pro tour teams in the hard early season races (Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Milan-San Remo, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tour of Oman and Tour of Qatar). 

Read more about Team IAM Cycling:

  • Website: http://www.iamcycling.ch
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/IAMcycling
  • Twitter: @IAMcyclingFans 

As some of you may have noticed, many of the stuff is still in French, but I'm sure there will be more content in English as well in the future.

And last but not least a short interview with Heinrich Haussler about joining the Team IAM Cycling. He truly is one of the great riders in the peloton.

Progress

Today was the first off season test to illustrate the real outcome of the training so far. I was hoping for an additional 5-8 watts to my FTP, and in my mind I was a bit worried about the big break in December. I also had increased the amount of training lately and had slightly sore legs before the training. 

All set up

All set up

In the first couple of minutes I felt pretty uncomfortable and it took me a while to find the right position on the bike. A couple of heavy but short intervals made the heart beat quite hard and I felt the legs weren't fresh. But as the first of the 8 minute intervals began I felt pretty strong, and in a couple of minutes I gained a lot of self confidence, all of a sudden it felt pretty good. And that feeling kept going all the way trough the workout.

Spinning

Spinning

And it all ended with an FTP that was actually 15 watts above the previous. So in a month my training, both gym and riding the bike had increased my Watt/Kg by 0,36. Yes, I am pleased, and this is the part of training that will keep you motivated to train even harder.

This again proves the huge gains about actually tracking what you do and having a training plan. There are few things in life that compares with that feeling when you realize you actually are much better than just a couple of weeks ago, or you achieve a goal that you tried to reach for a long time. I warmly recommend all of you, even if you're "just running on your spare time" to track your running, use a heart rate device and you'll understand what I'm talking about. 

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

I also spoke with Kjell Carlström today, Team IAM Cycling directeur sportif and ex professional pro tour cyclist. Really interesting stuff with building up a new team. That team sure has a lot of potential, will be really interesting to follow them! Unfortunately their webpages are in French only, but they should be updating them soon. And you'll find Team IAM Cycling on Facebook as well: https://www.facebook.com/IAMcycling

Tomorrow new week, new possibilities, take them and enjoy them!

Up and Cycling!

Spring, the long waited season has been showing signs already for a month in southern Finland, but ever once in a while, after periods of sun and somewhat warmish days there has been signs of winter as well. But at least now it looks like the temperatures will stay above +0 degrees throughout the night and day. We actually managed to take a ride as early as 11th of March, almost a month earlier than last year, but as mentioned we had several setbacks after that. So nothing more than a couple of soaky chilly rides so far, but hopefully the following weeks will provide us with the weather that would support us getting some miles in our legs. At least so far, riding outside, has taken more on my legs than on my lungs, so the legs really need those miles. I will post some more pictures from those rides next week.

Today we had one of the first finnish spring-classics in Turku, TS-kortteliajot. This race is ridden along the river Aura, crossing it and making it an about 1,2km circular route that is ridden 50 times around. 

Our national road cycling champion, Kjell Carlström couldn't participate due to flu, but he was following the race and we had change to meet him and discuss the race and also about his future career. I really hope to still one day see him in the professional peloton. 

Kjell Carlström discussing the race outcomeThe weather was pretty good, sunshine with some western winds, which meant a headwind on the finish line. The riders began pretty easy, some smaller attacks that were caught up pretty fast. The first serious attack was made by Kimmo Kananen but as the peloton realized a threat they slowly caught up this two man breakaway just a couple of laps later. The real breakaway was launched at halfway the race, a strong 8 man group including among other a couple of TWD länken riders and one Velocitor rider who rode pretty strong as well. This breakaway was strong enough to almost catch the peloton, and for the first time in history the peloton had to be taken out of the race before the end. With some 10 laps to go, the breakaway split up and four riders was now battling for the win. During the last lap it soon became only three riders, and a moment later Samuel Pökälä came first in the sprint for the win, winning the race.

The 8 man breakawayThe group worked well togetherKimmo Kananen tried his legs out on the greatest bike in the peloton, the Bianchi OltreThe peloton tried to catch the breakaway, with Turun Urheiluliitto in the frontTurun Urheiluliitto tried to work together but they were not strong enough this timeThe rest of the peloton followingSome riders were not that lucky, here a puncture halfway the raceTWD länken working hard in the front of the breakaway (Aku Silvénius and Samuel Pökälä)And Jesse Virtanen making the most to catch up the breakaway together with Mika SimolaPeloton (notice the Bianchi Oltre)Samuel Pökälä celebratingPodium celebrationsThe new Cervelo S5 that is said to be the fastest road bike out there. Didn't win today though, but looks like a fast one.

Hope you all survived it 'til here, I'll be back with more stories and photos from our own rides later next week. I hope you all have taken out your bikes already, no matter carbon or steel.

 

Ciao!

Wrapping up 2011

So yet another year of cycling is left behind, definitely a good one. I reached a pleasant amount of goals set up for the year, most certainly due to the new bike bought in early spring when the snow still covered the ground. It was also an interesting year in pro-cycling, bringing new talents to the top elite.

2011, having bought the Kurt Kinetic trainer in 2010, was the first of my cycling years to begin with an indoor cycling period, and this enhanced the early season cycling a lot. Another big reason to a good start was the new bike that was several kgs lighter than my previous one. The Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 was my first full carbon bike weighing at around 7,2kgs. I also bought a new cycling computer the Garmin Edge 500, and I have been more than pleased with it.

Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 (Ultegra/Dura Ace)The first ride, we rode among snow and ice on April 5th. It was +4 degrees, but the sun already did it's job warming us up.

First ride of the year, all smilesAlmost a month later we saw something we never hope to see, a rider passing away during Giro. Wouter Weylandt passed away on the third stage of Giro chasing the front. He died wearing number 108, and this number will never be used again in the Giro, to the memory of Wouter Weylandt.

Team Leopard-Trek remembered Wouter on their website The Giro was then won by Alberto Contador, and he made it look really easy.

Alberto in pinkFinland had one of its best summers in years, and this ofcourse brought us many good rides in good conditions. Temperatures of around 25-30 degrees celcius and hardly any rain at all. This also helped me in achieving one of my goals, riding 300km. I couldn't have asked for a better day to do that, than the 14th of July. Almost no winds, pure sunshine and a perfect temperature. Having bought an HD camera, I was able to record many of the sections from along the ride.

300.54 km began at 6 am. The route was taken counter-clockwise

 

In July, the Tour de France was won by Cadel Evans, after many twist and turns. My own season highlight was approaching fast, Tour de Helsinki in early September. In august though, I got an influenza that lasted for 3 weeks and this took the best training time away and I had to participate without having trained for many weeks and still having a flu. Thus it went pretty okay. With no big hopes I was able to make a time almost 15 minutes better than last year. 

I also had time to chat with Kjell Carlström, who was beaten in the final sprint and took the second place overall.

Due to the warmest fall in a long time, I was still able to ride in November, and the last outdoor ride was ridden in total darkness 7th November.

wearing almost everything I had in the closet

Even though I wasn't able to reach my goal of 7000km this year, the season 2011 was a great one in many ways. Many new routes introduced and a great weather among with a new bike, new gear (cameras, hydration packs, bibs etc.) made the year a pleasant one. And hopefully the season 2012 will be even a better one with faster averages, more kilometres, better training and even more rides with friends. I hope you all have a good 2012 and still have time to check this blog every now and then. 

 

Happy ridings!

Post-race thoughts

A week later, Tour de Helsinki 2011 already feels like a distant memory. I was glad to be able to participate, despite still having a flu at that moment. And I knew there was little for me to achieve, since I'd been ill for almost two weeks and hence, had no possibilities to train for the race. The weather couldn't have been much better, +20, sunshine and almost no wind.

We started at the back of the group 30km/h and planned to just ride easy with that group to the finish line. Soon though, me and my friend, we felt a need to make a stop, which we did at approx. 10km, just before the "free-ride" started. This was a big mistake. When we got back on our bikes, we found ourselves at the back of the 29km/h bunch, which meant we had fallen probably 300-400 riders from our original group.

At the start

At this point, the leadout car had left the front, and all the groups were speeding up, which meant we had to speed up even more to get back to where our friends were. I started looking at my Garmin, and could immediately see and feel my untrained body. I was riding almost 40km/h with some 190bpm. It took me half an hour (~15km), many short steep climbs and some longer (Velskola) to finally find my friend in the 30km/h group. And i felt sick. My stomach was turning upside down, and I had a hard time trying to establish my pulse to a somewhat normal level. All the way chasing, I had to ask people whether i was still in the 29 group, and believe me, it felt good when I heard some guys telling me I was in the 30km/h group, or what remained of it. 

Chatting with other riders at Velskola (picture taken by heiha63)

It took me maybe 10 minutes to recover from the great effort I'd just made, and I was happy I could continue, after feeling really sick just a moment before. So we rolled with the 30km/h group all the way to 95km, where the group leaders made a stop, and some of the group continued, us included. I could sense the pace was increasing and there was certainly more tension in that group. I knew I would be glad just to ride with these guys 'til the finish line, that was just 30 km away.

Kuninkaanmäki was the last "big" climb before finish, at approx. 120km. No one seemed to be willing to attack, and I was happy. But as the group was in that climb, I could definitely feel it slow down. I felt good, so I kept up my own pace, and in a fraction of a second, found myself riding in the front of that group. Some riders had apparently made an increase in speed and were riding away from us. I knew I couldn't make any greater efforts, I just stayed where I was, with the group. One guy tried to get back to the riders that had at this point made a significant gap, maybe 100m. I looked down at my garmin, and at this point I felt, "what the heck, I can't let that guy suffer alone". So I pedaled beside him and told him to stay behind me and I would close the gap, that  would make it easier for us to ride the last kilometres. So I started pedaling, and after a minute or so, I had managed to close the gap, and got a big thank you from the other guys. 

So we rode further, and there was maybe 10km to go, when I was riding at the back of our group, now maybe 20 guys, and I realized there was an attack at the front (Cervelo guy). I looked down at my garmin, it was almost like shouting at me to hang onto that attack. So there I found myself, chasing a breakaway and a few moments later found myself in a two-man breakaway riding like hell. I don't know what happened, I was so sure I could resist any attack, and just stay calm and take it easy,because I was ill, and was far from top condition. It seemed, the garmin knew me better.

I could feel the lactic acid get into my legs, my heart was beating like hell. I left my place, and passed along the pacekeeping to the Cervelo guy and looked over my shoulder. I could see the group chasing us. And again, it was my turn to split the wind and keep up the pace. I asked the Cervelo guy how he was feeling. "It hurts!". I answered him that we cannot let that group catch us, let's keep it up! My legs were feeling like logs, and the lactic acid was doing the job it did the best. My garmin device seemed to have stuck on 135km and I started feeling desperation. But as we passed riders that had fallen from faster groups, I asked two guys to join us, because they seemed to be in quite good shape. They were happy to join us, and at this point I knew we would make it. We were now 4 guys riding, and it was easy. And the last kilometres went really fast, and a moment later, we were at the Velodrome at the finish line. We chatted with the group, and shook hands, and it felt really great. I had just made my time almost 15 minutes better (from the previous year), even a bit untrained and having a flu. This again, was a great example of how sporting brings people toghether, it was really awesome to be in that breakaway group, we were all really exhausted, suffering, but we made it.

At the finish

Klaus arriving a few minutes later

 

At the finish, we also had a time to talk to Kjell Carlström. Unfortunately he had been forced to attack all day, and in the final sprint he just didn't have the legs to take the win. A great second place anyway for Kjell!

Kjell Carlström

 

 So what did we learn? First of all, Tour de Helsinki should take place in July or August, for the sake of weather and to avoid the worst influenza period. Secondly, you shouldn't participate in only one race, because if you're ill and you can't participate, it really sucks. And maybe I learned something about myself as well. Or maybe not.

 

Here you can find the Garmin data from TdH

 

I'll keep you more updated about other stuff soon!

 

Ciao!

 

Cyclists and skiers

I was glad to see that the finnish newspapers also write something about our great cyclists, Kjell Carlström and Jussi Veikkanen. I found this article in today's Helsingin Sanomat (27.2.2011). 

 

jussiveikkanen.com

teamsky.com

 

Next Sunday will also be the time for the annual skiing event, Vasaloppet. This 90km cross country ski race will be broadcasted live, also on-line at svtplay.se. As highlights from the past years is the great effort made by the swedish skier, Staffan Larsson who due to knee problems had to push himself along with his ski sticks all the way! He finished as 5th only 4 minutes behind the winner and led the race until the 73th km. Check the video below!

svtplay.se

 

Enjoy!