Finally. Actually, the last two days haven’t been so bad. Today was 2 stages. 2 controlled stages. Mainly, by Hayden Roulston’s team, but also by just about anybody he could talk into going up to the front and pulling for him. Real professional. Guess you can tell I have very little respect for his riding style. I should explain my comment yesterday about what he’s been doing the last 3 years.
Hayden Roulston rode for Cofidis the first time I came down here in 2004. Then he got a contract from Discovery. But, he got into a couple bars fights and was arrested. Because of the fighting issues, he had a problem racing out of the country for awhile. Obviously, Discovery was not too pleased, so they didn’t rehire him. He then came down with some heart problem that was “uncurable”. But, a few months later, late last year, he used Eastern medicine and acupuncture (or something like that) to fix this dreaded heart problem. So now he is a big fish in a small pond so to speak, but doesn’t have the self confidence to race bicycles correctly.
A friend that lives in England sent me this in an email last nite. “A: your assessment of Kiwi athletes is pretty much on par with my experiences in the running world here–and can be extended to their Aussie brethren as well: pricks. I’ve been intentionally stepped on, tripped, shoved, more times by Antipodeans than anyone else–though, my observation (again, based only on my own experience) is that they are quite easy to crack because they race like Texans with an inferiority complex, so they start way too fast, blow up and then complain about it later. “I can’t be slamming Australian riders, since I’ve never raced there on the road, but it does fit my observations of the riders here. They take their hands off the bars and push more than anywhere else I’ve experienced.
I was pushed at least 30 times just today. They have no understanding of how the dynamics of a echelon works in the wind or they wouldn’t be pushing people around like they do. But, I think the core of the problem is that they have so little self confidence and have to act like something they aren’t. It seems each one thinks on a second by second basis during the race that they are going to fall, or get dropped on a climb or whatever. It is a stressful type of bike racing they’ve developed here and it seems to be making its way over to the states with all the import riders from down under racing there now.
Anyway, back to racing. The morning stage was good. Calm wind mainly and no knee warmers. Yeah. A group went up the road, with Curtis Gunn from our team in it. They were less than a minute up with 10km to go. We started to go pretty fast those last 10km and the gap disappeared quickly. With 2 km to go, we were catching them and Curtis took a flyer. He made it to about 20 meters from the line before we swallowed him. He was oh– so close. I was 10th.
I had a Sram shifting learning experience today. My experience was shifting up into a 13 instead of down into an 11. That is the 3rd time this year I’ve blown a shift at a crucial time in a race. First, MTB racing in Chequamegon, the 2nd time at a UCI Cyclo-X, and now here. I seem to be developing a pattern. Huh. But, my initial observations of the Sram Force vs. Durace is that the Shimano shifter is by far a better shifter. Even taking into consideration the fact that the Sram shifter is super light. Hopefully, the new Sram Red shifter coming out soon will improve upon their original ideas.
This afternoon’s stage was only 70km. Pretty windy, so lots of gutter riding and the field broke up a bunch, but nothing serious. It looked like it was going to come down to a field sprint until Tom Zirbel took a flyer with 8 km to go. He had a couple guys with him, but dropped them and won impressively. I was 5th in the field sprint, so 6th on the stage. 15th Overall, I think. So, the race is over.
I’m not sure what my thoughts are about the whole experience. I still have a hacking cough and am eating antibiotics. I have a 35 hour flight back to Kansas tomorrow afternoon. But, I do seem to have gained a ton of form, which is the reason I came here in the first place. So I’d have to say it was a sucess in that respect. Ok. We’ll see in a couple of weeks how this helped for the remainder of the ‘cross season. Better go for a run on the beach tomorrow before I fly. That way I can be super sore for the flight home.