road racing

Royal Cycling, a week later

So a week passed by.  Royal Cycling was a new event in my cycling calendar and I was really eager to be racing again. The alarm sounded at 5 am and the morning procedures are at this point quite well trained. It took me less than an hour to eat and pack the things I'd need during the day. And I had plenty of sleep during the night ( 4 hours), so I was ready to go.

Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 in the morning light

Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 in the morning light

The car ride to Lahti took us almost 3 hours, and we arrived an hour before start. The weather was perfect, +30 and sunshine. And soon we found ourselves at the starting line.

Preparing the bikes before start

Preparing the bikes before start

All smiles just minutes before start

All smiles just minutes before start

Ready to go

Ready to go

Cyclist getting ready

Cyclist getting ready

Start/Finish line

Start/Finish line

I started at the rear of the main peloton, and at 5 km from start the pace car left the front and it was all out. There was a breakaway immediately and the main group split into several smaller groups. Together with a teammate we started chasing groups and worked our way to a group of maybe 20 riders. Not long after that our group was mislead to take a right turn where we should have taken a left turn. This cost us some minutes and we had to work again. The pace was then settled to somewhere around 36 km/h. 

One hour into racing we faced a pretty strong headwind. This section would keep up for quite a long time and pretty soon the group we were in was slowing down. There was not enough cyclists willing to work in the headwind, and the speed dropped a bit. We made a couple of turns as pacekeepers with teammate Sebu, but really didn't want to kill our legs at an early stage. Somewhere around 70 km I started feeling a bit tired, and for a moment a feeling of maybe having to ease up the speed was crawling upon me. Fortunately the headwind eased as we turned east, towards Lahti again and there was a 10 km section of easy terrain. I managed to recover and somewhere around 100 km I started feeling good again.  

The long hill at 125 km was approaching as we worked as pacekeepers in the group. I looked down at my Garmin computer as I left the pacekeeping and took a couple of steps back in the line. 123 km. And there it was. The pace was easing and I shifted down a gear, then two and three gears, the climb had started. Sebu took the pacekeeping. "we'll meet at the finish line, just do your own speed" I shouted to him as I felt I couldn't keep up his pace. "No way, just hang on!" he shouted. Well, that's what I did. 300 meters into the climb I realized it wouldn't be that bad. Actually it wasn't all that steep and not that long either. We kept a good pace with Sebu and a couple of other guys, and found ourselves quickly at the top. And then the final kilometers. Sprinting, speeding, chasing down, keeping up a high pace. Was fun. My legs felt pretty good actually and it was easy to make fast sprints.  

500 meters before finish I made an increase in speed and took the lead of the group. Seconds later I heard the announcer shouting to the radio for a final sprint. Well, what the heck, lets go for it, i thought. As I rammed the pedals I heard a loud cracking sound. Sh*it, was I hit by a puncture? Looked down at the wheels. No. Started pushing again. Same cracking sound and at that time I was passed by another sprinting cyclist. My chain and rear hub were so worn out that they slipped when I put all in. So, I was not first to finish from our group, but anyhow all smiles at the finish! Superb day on the bike once again. We chatted with the other riders and I thanked them for a great job. 

Pulla, coffee and drinks at the finish. Superb job by the officials

Pulla, coffee and drinks at the finish. Superb job by the officials

Not all had a great day on the bike. Our third team member had technical difficulties already at the 40 km mark, he had lost his freewheel. That meant he had to ride a "single-speed bike" for 90 kilometers.  

Despite technical difficulties he didn't give up

Despite technical difficulties he didn't give up

I hope you managed to read all the way down here. I always try to keep the stories short, but as I write I find myself caught in that feeling of being on the bike. My apologies. 

Energy

Energy

Have a good one, remember to watch the last week of the Tour!

Le Tour de France 2013

So we've seen the first stage of the Tour de France 2013. Hectic chaos would probably be the best words to describe what happened yesterday. First we saw Johnny Hoogerland crash (again..) and then we heard about the Orica Greenedge bus that had created a chaos at the finish line. 

The famous Orica-Greenedge bus (photo from www.steephill.tv)

The famous Orica-Greenedge bus (photo from www.steephill.tv)

This gave organizers a headache and they had to make a decision to have the finish already at the 3 km to go line. At this point the riders were only 10 km from the original finish line and hence the teams started immediately to line up for sprint. Moments before the "new" finish at 3 km sign the bus was removed and the organizers decided to move the finish back to the original one. This lead to immediate change in pace from 100 % to less and this disorganized chaos led to a big crash.

The big crash before finish took down both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan (picture from www.steephill.tv)

The big crash before finish took down both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan (picture from www.steephill.tv)

When the big sprinters were away, Marcel Kittel had a pretty easy job to take the stage win. Only the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff from team Katusha gave him a decent fight.

Marcel Kittel the first to wear yellow in Tour de France 2013 (picture from www.steephill.tv)

Marcel Kittel the first to wear yellow in Tour de France 2013 (picture from www.steephill.tv)

Today will take the riders to mountains already. Hopefully everyone who crashed yesterday are able to start. The mountain stage should make the bunch a bit more relaxed. Let's at least hope so. 

I also found a great graphic that visualizes the development of the Tour de France (picture by Bikeraceinfo.com):

Enjoy the greatest sport event of the year!

The Fall is officially here

This week gave us the new world champions in road cycling, including juniors, U23 and elite in both women and men. Copenhagen, Denmark was the spot for the world champs this year. This event really is the first real sign of the Fall and the approaching winter. Earlier this week, the battle for the Time-Trial title was fought. One can say an era of a great Time-Trial cyclist came to an end. Fabian Cancellara (also known as Spartacus) couldn't defend his title, and finished third after Bradley Wiggins (2nd) and the winner, Tony Martin.

Tony Martin (picture from Cyclingtipsblog.com)

Today the fight for the Road Race Champion was fought. The track was easy, didn't include any sharp turns nor any climbs. This reduced the number of possible winners down to just a couple of riders. The big fight would probably be fought between Hushovd, Gilbert, Cavendish, Cancellara, Boasson Hagen and Goss. Unfortunately Hushovd fell behind the peloton when there was a big collision in the peloton. These riders could never fight their way back to the main peloton anymore. I myself hoped for the remaining norwegian, Boasson Hagen, Gilbert or Cancellara. But the strong British team ruled the game, and made it easy for Mark Cavendish throughout the race, and in the last 100m he speeded up and couldn't be catched by anyone anymore. 

Mark Cavendish celebrating (picture from steephill.tv)I'm not a huge fan of Cav, and I would want to see a rider with wider capabilities as the Road Race World Champion. But in the end of the day, that guy is the fastest sprinter in the world, I can't deny that.

 

Here in Finland the weather has been pretty good, despite some really heavy winds a couple of days, the rain has finally kept itself on a distance. But even though the sun would be shining, the days are really short and chilly. More about some updates on this site and pictures/videos later next week. 

Paimio, Finland, 25.9.2011 (click to open in GoogleMaps)

Laters!