Making Space Climbing

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The first year I went to Europe, the first race I did on the US National Team was the Tour of Vaucluse.  It was a pretty big pro/am race, with some of the best pros in the world racing mainly again the best guys from the USSR.  I was just there to learn and spectate.

That year, maybe the third stage we were to ride over the Ventoux.  We weren’t finishing at the very top, but were riding up it and then descending and doing another 50 kms or so.

We could see the Ventoux from Avignon.  It was imposing.  Anyway, we started riding and the climb is long. There is a steady grade going up to it, then we did a left hand turn and the pitch got steep.  This is at the bottom.

The field was together, a huge group and we were all riding way too close together, for my liking.  I noticed that guys started standing up, for no apparent reason, and then a space would open around them.

I saw this happen a few times before I tried it.  It worked amazingly.  It wasn’t like anyone was trying to physically open a space, but the whole act of standing takes more room and the riders next to you have to adjust.  So, maybe they were physically trying to open a space.  And it is more a side to side space, not a front to back space.

I stayed in the big peloton for maybe a couple more kilometers until they started racing at the front.  Then I got shelled.  I lost a lot of time that day, along with Jeff Pierce, a US team mate.  Jeff eventually won the final stage of the Tour de France a few years later.

I always liked climbing better in Europe than here in the US.  The gradients are steeping and there are usually way more switchbacks.  It better suited my style.

Anyway,  I did learn an important thing for climbing that day.  Baby steps is what makes a good cyclist.

Not the Tour Vaucluse, but climbing up Mt. Diablo at the Coor’s Devil’s Cup outside Walnut Creek, CA.

Some old results from the Tour Vaucluse that year.


10 thoughts on “Making Space Climbing

  1. Larry T

    Great stuff! There’s a book about your long cycling career and cycling experiences just waiting to be written (with the help of someone who can fix up your spelling and grammar, but that shouldn’t be hard to find). If you don’t have the time or inspiration, maybe you could start telling the stories into a recording device on your long drives around the US before you get too old to remember them all?
    Totally agree with your US vs Euro mountain thoughts, though I have no style or ability – I just hate long slogs uphill with with a constant grade and little indication that you’re gaining elevation. But unless you go over there you don’t realize there’s a difference.

  2. Joe solomito

    I did a training week with Giovanni Battaglin years ago in Homestead FLA..I was riding his wheel pretty close and he stood up and made me gap him. It was a double pace line with his main domestique Dorino Vanzo. Guess he didn’t like me on his wheel.

  3. LA LA 70.2

    Thats why Berto stands up on The Attack it gives him Roomie for Froomie to make up! He used to do that to me to Gggrrrrrrr I got to get a move on have anutther Rock n Roll Marathon manana!

  4. Mikelikebikehike

    That’s 47 seconds. It was a stage race and that was the G.C. list ( total time ). Laurent was the leader at 12hours, 22minutes, and 49seconds. Steve was at 12 H, 39 min, 47 sec, so he was about 17 minutes behind on total time.

  5. chasd

    I think the other SRC rider in the first photo is Roy Knickman. The hard helmet may be Dave Grylls. Did they spell Doughboy’s name ( # 27 ) wrong in the results, or is that a different rider ?


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