May 23, 2012

Trofeo Karlsburg - Nations Cup

I considered calling this report "How to attack, off the back" but decided otherwise. Trofeo Karlsburg was a really cool race and one that I felt would have suited me. Being at the Nations Cup level (or World Cup) race it is what qualifies our team points that determine how many riders we will get to start at the world championships in Holland at the end of September. I came in with high hopes, having had an excellent 6 races in the Benelux leading up to the race. Stage one was pretty good, a 1.5km climb that had some pretty steep parts was good to me. I always moved up the pack on it and on the last lap I went in some late moves to try and breakaway from the field but I had no such luck and I was a little tired and poorly positioned in the finale. I came in with the same time as the winner in the lead group so nothing to lose sleep over. Stage two was equally average, I had no problems following the pace but moving up in the pack was much more difficult on the thin roads than I had anticipated and I spent most of my time relegated to the back of the field. It started to rain really hard and this was when my already shattered pack riding confidence got worse. I was now stuck in the back 20 and riding around cracking riders. In the sprint finish I moved up a ton of spots but the timers still took a gap in the field so this meant aside from the top 20 riders we all were given a 7 second gap. Kind of a bummer but 7 seconds isn't life ending so I dealt with it. Stage three was horrible/excellent considering...that I had only been on a TT bike 4 times since Abitibi. I went really hard, Nat (our director) had some constructive critisim on my position and gear choice. The end result was 76th place, a result I wasn't really happy with. Considering I was nearly 2/3 down the pack of 120 riders which means I was probably beaten by a lot of riders on road bikes, which is kind of embarassing. I am glad this happened though in a wierd way, because it acted as a wake up call for my ITT skills. I expected top 30 or so but I was the chump, losing nearly 1 minute to the winner. Stage 4 wasn't very good, I felt okay and I knew this week I am not at the level of these other riders. I was staying in the pack no problem so I decided to cover a move by a German rider and chase him down. After about 500m on the front we started to climb and I went backwards in the pack. Getting dropped eventually with 1.5km still remaining in the 4km climb. I had the help of a strong Norwegian rider and  with my tricky skillz on the decent we made it back. With one more time up this epic climb and a 10km chase already in my legs I couldn't hang on and got dropped in about the same place. I didn't get back and lost 3 minutes to the field. Pretty demoralised after such a hard day but atleast I went for it and learned from my mistakes. Stage 5 was good. I rode in the back all day felling a little bummed about my performace and equally as tired. I was going decent over the climbs and I felt my legs starting to get better. We had dropped nearly 30 people and only 80 of us remained. Then the peleton split, and due to my poor positioning I found myself not exhausted, but in the back 30 riders with 50 going up the road. We rolled easy and finished almost 4 minutes behind the leaders. I was so happy to have been done with this hard racing experience, but it was my high expectations that had made it so. I was obviously not as strong as I was in Belgium and Holland. I don't know what did it but I have a lot of ideas too choose from and too many to list. What I learned from this experience was that I am not as strong as I really think I am, but I can make it there, and I am close. I need to improve my abilities in pack riding. I spent so much time off the front in the races leading up I feel these skills were negatively affected and next time I will be more prepared for the tough pack riding at the World Cup level. I also need to do A LOT of work on my ITT. Having spent only 5 hours on the bike in 10 months is a decent excuse for lack of skill in the discipline and I have learned that TT's are makeandbreak in this type of race. A great trip in europe with a bad ending, I have learned, time to move on and get better!      

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