Photos also down the bottom.
What a roller coaster of a start of my Europe campaign.
So far I have done four races with Drapac Pro Cycling.
- Castilla Leon- 3 Days
- Tour of Azerbaijan- 5 days
- Tour of Iran- 4 days of 6
- Gullegem Koerse in Belgium
Each race I have done has taught me a lot about tactics and different styles of racing specific to each country I have raced in. It is a new level of racing and the key thing I have discovered above everything else in the last few months is the importance of being as adaptable as possible.
With each race comes many stories that the results sheet could not possibly reveal.
Summary of Events
Castilla E Leon: After only about a week since first arriving in Europe and only just recovered from jetlag, I had a relatively good day one and day three of the tour in Spain with a bad day two. Held good positioning and learnt how good the world tour team Movistar is heading to the Giro.
After Castilla I got a very bad chest infection for a week. This has continued to linger on under the surface throughout the whole trip so far.
- At the start of Azerbaijan I was healthy and wanted to ride the legs into it after not much riding after Castilla.
- I crashed hard on day 3 in Azerbaijan.
- After Azerbaijan Visa Delays, all night travel my chest infection is back with a vengeance.
- Iran went good for the first 4 days of the tour. Team mate Peter Koning won a stage and roode a good GC all week. My chest infection was ok during the days but would get bad at night.
- Iran Day 4 I put in a massive ride to breakaway but that evening started to feel really hot. Had a high fever and temperature and was hit by a gastro bug.
- Iran Day 5 pulled the Pin and didn't start.
- Can't hold down any food for next 4 days with very bad gastro problems, the chest infection or and crap in my lungs persists.
- I am finally back into training the last 5 days and feeling much better.
- I rode Gullegem Koerse and had a blast, love Belgian style technical racing. Great to be back feeling good with a 30th place result from 180 starters.
Enjoyable high level race with challenging courses and a good variety. The race started in the capital Baku near the caspian sea, surrounded by desert with gas and oil fields beneath. The race then travelled into the mountains which were quite similar to New Zealand and a welcome break from Baku.
The racing itself was hectic and semi-organised. The team had some bad luck that hampered results including punctures and crashes.
Including my crash...
I had been protecting our leaders up front just 2-3 wheels from the lead in the wind for an extended period of time before a key dangerous downhill. I was getting fatigued after sitting in the wind and when everyone jumped 200m out from the descent the leaders also stalled. I went for one last gas it around the side of them and got clipped by a rider passing me. I should have just sat behind the leaders as I was going backwards, but I do have the ability even when under the pump to do a last gas anaerobic effort so it's hard to analyse but definitely 50% my fault.
I hit the ground hard and was very stiff the next two days. Main injuries were to my left hip and elbow with bruising. Nothing broken though!
Very interesting experience traveling to a place not many would often visit. I learnt a lot about the country and the people. Some good some bad with plenty of interesting events.
We had a 12am midnight flight to Iran. With all the Visa issues I didn't get to sleep until 4am. Later this week in Tabriz I started to feel the chest infection and cold coming back. The race went relatively good for the first few days. I enjoyed the cross winds especially. My team mate Peter Koning won a stage and was in Yellow for two days which I helped defend.
Ultimately on day 4 I woke up with a sore guts. A sign of things to come. On the bike I actually pulled of a ripper of a stage. I rode across to the break that was at 7mins with the infamous Stefan Schumacher (remember his TDF fame...) we went full gas for 60km to make the front. I stayed there for 40km more then got dropped on the Cat 1 climb. I eased up and waiting for my team mate Peter and what would be left of the race. When I got caught there were 6 Iranians swapping off hard with Peter only 20sec back. I dropped back and a couple of track turns later he was on. It was a good stage. I was not prepared for the night ahead.
After the finish I started to feel very weird not just the usual tiredness from a big day. I developed a fever at first very cold and then I was very hot through the night. I had some rice and jelly for dinner...it was all I could stomach. I could barely have the energy to walk. I had a high fever all night and spent most of it on the toilet. The Gastro problems absolutely floored me. it really knocked me out. I was better the next day but very drained and had to endure 6 hours on a bus to stage finish and then to the finish. I still had some fever but it was much less. Over the next week I got a little by little better but all in had gastro problems for 6 days. Travelling back through airports was hard and I was in very bad shape and couldn't really eat anything.
Gradually I got better once back in Belgium. The chest infection lingered on but also eventually disappeared.
Back on track Gullegem Koerse
I have had a good 4 day block here in Belgium training with team mate Will Clarke. It took me a couple days but gradually my strength returned.
Yesterday I lined out at the Gullegem Koerse know as the World champs of Kermesse. A good race for my first race in Belgium. All the big names where there. Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, Andre Greipel along with fellow kiwi Greg Henderson. The distance was 180k with laps of 10km. I loved every minute of it. This style of racing suits me down to the ground. The plan originally was to do 2 hrs then pull out to freshen up for Korea. But a race is a race and I was feeling good so stayed in.
It was a fast race 46kmh average. I felt comfortable throughout. I started at the back quite a bit at times in first quarter but also rode off the front a couple times. I enjoyed watching the big guys and seeing what they do and how they position. Every lap I got better and by the end the last two laps I was top 30 for most of it. The race was won by Greg Van Avermaet from BMC. It was a great hit out for me before Korea and an enjoyable race.
Throughout my time on Pat's Veg and now Drapac Pro Cycling university has been a key part of my life. I am approaching the end of my studies and am looking forward to the rest of my year with a little less stress and challenge. Challenges have included stable wifi connectivity as a major difficulty, as well as my illnesses and constant time travelling, especially at all odd hours. I am very pleased to say I have managed it all, even through some difficult times.
On Thursday I leave for the 8 day Tour of Korea before returning for Halle Ingooigem, on 22 June. I have trained on the circuit for this and is sort of a local race for me. Looking forward to being on the up health wise and getting stuck into the upcoming racing.
Big thanks to Drapac Pro Cycling and Pat's Veg for all the support in my career so far and giving me the resources to compete at this level.
To all my supporters back home, huge thanks for helping me get this far. I couldn't be doing it without you.
Thanks for reading.