Wednesday, May 14, 2008

JOE MARTIN....in the books

Another year...another Joe Martin in the books...but this year, different to before a stage win to gloat about...best part is, its not self gloating but instead talking about Teddy finally cracking a big one. But not just any big one...the same stage that he has come so close to winning the past 2 years. He timed his move perfectly this year and it helped him move into 5th on GC for the tour which was a good effort.



My tour....well, like i said before i went, i was going there to win. Unfortunately a less than great TT on the opening day meant for a change of tactics and Friday's road race saw me on the attack trying to isolate Rory (Health Net) and try and get some time back. Thought we had the perfect break, over the top of the big climb for the day, with 10 guys and all the big teams represented...but alas, some soft turns in the break and Jelly Belly deciding to bring it back...for what reason i dont know, as they had a guy in the move....and the break was coming back. I attacked again and ended up solo with 5km to go but was caught by the lead out trains coming into town and the tactic had back fired.



After Teddy's win on the Sat...the crit became a different focus and we tried a do or die move with 3 laps remaining to get him the 29secs he needed to take the GC...but it was to no avail. Health Net rode a pretty amazing criterium. They controlled all the attacks and really never were put under too much pressure, with Rory coming out on top fairly easily in the end.....but at least we tried...which is more than i can say for some.


This is me...hitting a corner during the criterium...seemingly pedalling through it...which seems dodgy...

Joao...with the facial injuries he sustained in his over exuberant celebration of Teddy's win...ouch

Another shot from the crit...starting up the hill that makes this one of the tougher circuits of the year.


Colavita impressed again with 2 stage wins and a strong team performance to take out the teams classification. There is no doubt they are one of the stronger domestic teams this year and deserve a slightly better run then they have been handed.



But now...its time to get ready for the 1 day races. I am in Boulder, Colorado and checking out what it is that people find so special about this place. I have been impressed so far from what i have seen, apart from the rain. A couple of easy recovery days for me and then i am back into full training and getting ready for Philly week. Im off to pick up Katey in Denver later tonight and look very much forward to seeing her again after what has been a hard year...since i have only seen her for a week since January....thats a long time...too long.



So keep a look out for some Boulder tails...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Georgia...done and dusted...time to get back to reality

So after a slightly disappointing finish to Georgia...my 12th place in the last stage....no thanks to 2 flats in the last 25km which wasted a lot of the team on getting me back and saw me hit a big wall with 100m to go, when i could have been a legitimate shot for 3rd on the stage....it is time to get back to reality...and that means regular races.

So we had a couple of crits this weekend which were dominated by Toyota. We rode ok as a team of 5 without really setting the world on fire. A couple of top 10's for me and 4th for Teddy in Roswell was about all we took out of the weekend...but more important than that, were the lessons we learnt as a team. Toyota and Health Net gave us some schooling in the risks that need to be taken in tight and fast criterium racing and i hope that we will move into the future as a better, classier unit.

Kate and her team stepped it up a notch in Switzerland over the weekend and raced hard to put Judith into 2nd spot and with that, the World Cup lead. I imagine that she could extend that lead in the upcoming Montreal WC...a race that she has done well with before. Not forgetting Chantal B, who came in 4th and moved herself into 4th place in the WC standings with that..So congrats to them all for what has been a stella season so far.

Have to give a shout out to the rest of my team...who flogged themselves in Gila and got some awesome results. 2 stage wins, the leaders jersey for 2 days and 2nd on GC to finish the tour. But for those of you who had not seen...Zirbel came down hard on the last day, while leading the tour and broke a rib and his hand....so GET WELL SOON TOMMY Z....

Next for me and the crit team is the Joe Martin...2 top 10's in the last 2 years has me heading there with some confidence that we can challenge for the overall win. With a team of 5 it is going to come down to some savvy tactics and smart racing, but we have the boys to get it done, so i am thoroughly looking forward to it. Ill try and keep you all posted.

Until then....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stage 6...beaten up by Brasstown

Stage 6 is over and done with....and the fears of time cuts and impending death on the famous Brasstown Mtn have long subsided. The team made it through the stage unscathed and we have a full roster of 8 to ride into the finish tomorrow. This stage last year were were down 2 men and that had implications for our sprint power in the following 2 flat stages.

Today went well for us and we hit the final climb with 4 of us left in the main group. I somehow suffered my way over the first 2 climbs of the day so that i could go as easily up Brasstown as is possible. eventually coming in 11mins behind the winner. It was a hard day with a lot of teams playing aggressive cards in the GC battle to try and crack Slipstream. By the end of the day, Slipstream had lost the lead...but i must say that they rode a pretty amazing stage and it was just a strong rider who got the best of them in the end. Im going to single out Danny Pate who i thought rode like an animal...it was pretty exceptional. It was all however to no avail as Trent just couldn't stay with the High Road winner and gave up his GC lead by a measly 4seconds.

Some good photos have emerged from yesterday...not often you get them, so ill share some with you.

I got a nice gap after jumping out of the last corner.


Apparently i was happy when i crossed the line in first.


Always a nice part of making the podium

Those arent bad names on either side of me
You can also check out my online interview at http://www.velonews.tv/?Art_ID=2103

Now we are heading into the final stage with 8 guys and renewed confidence for a good result tomorrow. Last year i finished 6th on this circuit and the plan is to improve on this in tomorrows finish. Looks like rain and thunderstorms could be a factor that could influence the race...but it should be hard and fast with a few battles still going on in the sprint and GC competition.

Hope to join you tomorrow with some good news...or at least a good story.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

STAGE 5...Winners are grinners

For those who do not know....today was a great day for the Bissell cycling team

I won the stage and Teddy took control of the King Of the Mountains jersey after a stella break away that lasted for nearly 150km. At one point it looked like we wouldnt catch the break and Teddy was going to have the chance to contest the stage finish....but the final kms were tough and it all came back together and then split over the last climb. I got a nice run and a little luck in the finsh and came out in front.

Im so excited for the team who worked really well today and showed what strength we have. It should be a fantastic building block for the rest of the season and hopefully we can keep our boy Teddy in the KOM jersey.

I would love to spend more time blogging, but it is late and has been a very long day. My pillow is calling. Thanks to everyone who sent me emails and messages. Me and the team appreciate all the support.....

You can read all about it on www.velonews.com or www.cyclingnews.com ....cause i dont want to play favourites. Tomorrow is the big Brasstown climb...it will hurt and i look forward to sharing that pain with you in here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

TTT....stage 4

Not what we had hoped for....

That sums up our final result in the team time trial. Al was well and we were on our way to a competitive result when Zirbel suffered a mechanical problem on the hill the third lap and then we had a period were the wheels fell off. We did come back with a solid final lap but the damage had already been done.

But i think that when you look at the team finishing without its 2 clear TT specialists that we still came out with a reasonable time and an OK result. The good thing is that we kept ourselves in a great position for GC as i am only down by 57sec and could easily make that up on Brasstown ;).

In all seriousness, tomorrow's long stage may hold some GC battles, but i think the tour will ultimately come down to Brasstown on Sat. I am pinning some hope and pressure on T. Lowe (Slipstream). My fellow Australian and all round good bloke is looking strong and there is little doubt he has the support of one of the best teams. Can he beat Levi on Brasstown? Time will tell. I sure hope so.

Short one today...internet has been down, so im off to bed now. Hope to have a report for you tomorrow. Long day, 3 climbs, but i am confident i can ride strong and hopefully have a say in the finish again.

Peace

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stage 3....

Holy crap.....first 50km took us 1hr and 4mins....i dont care who you are, that is fast and hard.


Finally, after a 70+km/h crash that took out a few people...Ouch...the break got away and there was a lull in the field and time for a toilet stop. Team Bissell was represented by Scotty Z...but he tells me that the break was largely under the control of the Team Type 1 rider who slowly started to tear at the legs of his 3 companions.


But inevitably...it was always going to come back together with Toyota and CSC taking to the front over the closing 50km...what people didnt quite expect was how hard the finishing circuits were. the last 8km was run on a twisty, hill and tight circuit that eventually started to tear the field apart. It was a race coming into the park...and once we arrived it didnt let up, with High Road hitting the front and dropping a large quantity of the field....The closing km's hurt and i dug deep, again with good legs but could not quite produce a great finish after a bad line into the final corner. The fast ass, downhill sprint was taken by Greg Henderson (High Road) after a great set up from his team and i trailed in for 8th place.

Apparently I have been relaxed at one point during this tour....need a hair cut though.

Now we look forward to the team time trial...it has always been the focus for our team, with our time trialing strength...so now it is time to sack up and produce the goods. Fingers crossed we can all hold onto Jaques-Maines and Zirbel...gotta have at least 4 finish....




Until tomorrow....adios....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

STAGE 2....

Flat and fast again...that was how stage 2 worked itself out.

The first 60km was on like never before as the field tried to establish a break away group that they were satisfied with. There were a few times that it looked like it was going to work out, but many over ambitious and unsatisfied domestic teams kept forcing the issue and making sure they were represented. It was an weird finish to the attacking, when Justin England (Toyota) rolled off the front and suddenly found himself with a 3min gap....he was later joined by another 2 and the trio worked their way out to 7mins. Astana, High Road, CSC and Gerolsteiner went to the front and began to bring the gap down slowly.

With 20km to go the field was all back together for the finishing circuits around Augusta. A long and gradual uphill was countered by a crazy fast decent that meant trying to hold good position was a tough ask for the smaller teams.

A mass pile up with 700m to go caused some chaos, but it didnt have any effect on the winners for the day. The true sprinting talent of the field came to the front and JJ Haedo took the sprint ahead of Greg Henderson. Ivan Domingez held onto his GC lead after running 3rd.

Personally...well maybe 15th. Nothing to write home about really. Had good legs for the sprint again, but when BJM ran out of legs with 1200m to go i was too far back to do anything heroic. Still positive signs for the flat stages and the team is looking and feeling good for the remainder of the tour....except maybe Jeremy who came off 2nd best in an incident with the Toyota team car....Have to wait and see how he wakes up in the morning.....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

GEORGIA...STAGE 1...

Let me start this entry by eating my words a little....while i spoke with complete facts in last weeks post and this is in no way an apology, i am one to give credit were credit is due....Jelly Belly made up for a more than lack luster Redlands by riding a strong race today and delivering their man (Nick Sanderson) to the line for a podium position....So congrats to them for proving me wrong....

Stage 1 was a short and extremely flat stage that was only at danger of splitting if the wind reared its ugly head in some of the exposed areas. Needless to say that did not happen and the pace was high for the duration of the 70miles. We (Bissell) represented well in most of the attacks and can officially take the honors for the first attack of the 2008 Tour with Tom Zirbel throwing it down some 15km into the stage. From then on the race went from a nice easy roll to a flurry of consistent and damaging attacks. It was not until nearly 35km to go however that a break of 6 was let loose and Garrett had us nicely represented.

With an abundance of sprinters here, however, it was never going to survive and was always destined to be a bunch kick. Numerous railway crossings in the final 4km added to the excitement as many teams tried their luck with big lead out trains. It was only in the closing km that Gerolsteiner took the lead and attempted to deliver Robert Foster in first. He was overtaken in the closing 200m by Domingez and Sando however and finished in 3rd. After some great help from my team mates i held good position into the last km and ended up in 4th place.

I had great legs all day and am very happy with how i feel early on for this tour. My physical preparation has been perfect and a few little judgement errors in the final 300m may have cost me a podium position. It is however a positive start for the team and hopefully something to build on for the coming week.

So congrats to Toyota, who will wear the first yellow of the tour....but we are in the wings and wont be laying down this week....mark my word.

PS. To my Jelly Belly rider, who left a comment on my last post i say this....I have never claimed to be a rock star cyclist...ever. I have no problem with taking your comments on board and similarly am willing to concede that i am not a big race winner. But if you are going to get personal then you cant finish with calling me invisible and not leaving your name to it and you have to concede that you guys didnt have a good Redlands or explain to me how i got it wrong....Fair?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

GEORGIA...here we come

Its been a while......but i am back in the US and have just, today, finished my build up to Georgia. It included Redlands in Cali...starting 2 days after i got back on US shores....needless to say it took me a few days to get back into the swing of things and although the results didnt look great on paper, Sundays race may well have been one of my best rides ever. Vennell and i spent all day off the back after a crash 10km in. Loosing a good 3 mins in the first lap, we proceeded to pick up others falling off the bunch over the following 140km...used them up and spat them out the back eventually only finishing 4.5mins down on the lead group. Not bad for a 2 man effort. Team wise a good result with Burke making the podium in 3rd after reading the break nicely in stage 1.

So now looking to Georgia....a flatter race than last year and including a team time trial, so it should be interesting....im feeling fit and ready and looking for a podium on a stage at least....high ambitions, maybe...but otherwise whats the point of being there...we're not just making up the numbers, like...say...Jelly Belly? (not trying to be a prick....but 1 finisher in Redlands, as defending champions....Colavita and Kelly/Benefits have the right to be a little pissed).

Ill finish with some more family photos from my UK trip. Just so there is no one who feels left out.

Me and my Grandfather....its scary how similar he and my dad are...genetics i guess.



Checking out my bike...not sure...but i think it was the more popular than me.

Me and my dads sister....It was great seeing all these people for the first time in 14years. A lot has changed since i was 10.

It would seem i had a lot of family in the UK who i didnt know. Some of these people had not seen me since i was 18months old.

My god parents...not sure if that is an irony since im not religeous.

So thats it for the moment. I will try and bring you some video diary's from Georgia...maybe feature some of my team mates. We'll see what happens.

Later.....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

RETURN TO THE MOTHER LAND....

My first few days in the UK have been a busy time catching up with all the people i can possibly sqeeze in. It has been 16 years since i was last here and as such a long time and a lot of growing up has been done since i last saw many of my family and friends here. So far the trip has been a success, apart from numerous times of being lost while driving around and braving the freezing temps while on the bike.

FROM A MASIVE HOUSE....TO A MINI ONE.....




video

Kay is an amazing woman and prmarily the reason for my extra time here in the UK. She was the one who convinced me that if i didnt make it back that she might not be able to hold on much longer....she is crazy though, by far the fitest 88 year old i have ever met. Swimming twice a week and walking around town all day...puts many people i know to shame....20yo's included.


Sarah and Les are long time family friends....along with their son James, many of my baby photos include them. It was good to see them and spend a lunchtime catching up.

Here with Kay and Elaine. Elaine has been out to Australia so many times, that she unfortunately misses a personal house visit...i have almost seen as much of her as my parents over the past 5 years.


Off further south today to see my Dad's family and my grand father. Rumours of rain and possibly snow have been circulating....that will surely make traning interesting.

Talk soon........

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

US TO THE UK BABY.....

So tell me this....how can Vaughters leave me out of Slipstream next year....look how filthy my moustache is!!!!

People will be happy to know that it only remained for the duration of this photo...because im no Zabriskie.

CHECK OUT MY HOUSE...Part 3.

video

Wanna know what i did on the weekend....well listen to it and that way you dont have to read about it....

video

Ill catch up with you guys when i can. Not sure how easy getting on the internet will be from the UK. But ill try and get some posts up with some photos of me enjoying myself.

Later

Saturday, March 15, 2008

2ND UPDATE IN A WEEK...THIS VIDEO THING COULD STICK

CHECK OUT MY HOUSE.....Part 2.

This is an introduction to a big secret.....dont want to give away too much....watch the clip.

video

And now for my first official video blog....let me know if you prefer it to reading some of the garbage i write....its much easier for me and i figured i could do some race video blogging during tours and races that would make it easier than trying to explain it all in text...plus im so pretty

video

Appologies for the beginning of the video being sideways....but i am always learning about what the camera can do. If youre watching on a laptop, then turn it sideways....but if youre on a home computer, youre shit out of luck.....

See you soon.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SURVIVING THE WORST DAY OF THE YEAR....AGAIN

For the 4th year in a row i have survived the worst day of the year, without having been able to enjoy the best day of the year for nearly 5 years. Im talking, of course, about day light savings kicking in and the clocks jumping forward an hour. It has been so many years since the last time i went to sleep knowing that i could sleep for 10hrs, but only have it count for 9.....its such a beautiful concept. But instead i have had 3 of these bad days in the last 6 months, thanks to Tasmania choosing to change over a week before Melbourne. This, in reality, is not a massive issue for someone in my line of work.....i can pretty much just get up an hour later.....but its the psychological factor....i didnt sleep well at all on Sat night....it just doesnt seem fair.

INTRODUCING THE HOUSE....PART 1

video

The house is one thing....now take a look at my ride.....

video

So keep in touch and ill have more updates to come.....i think i like this video thing. It means that i dont have to type too much and i can just film in stead....im pretty sure that youtube gets more hits than my blog, there must be a reason for it......

By the way, just in case anyone is still interested i still dont have full sensation in my fingers and cant use my hands properly. Hand writing is a problem. Everyone says, dont worry, it will all come back, but its been 2.5 weeks now......when????

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

SICK IN CALI

Tour of California.....well what can i say....it was a great mix of fantastic racing coupled with some of the most painful days of my life. I woke up sick on the day of stage 4....looking at the profile of the day i was initially happy that it didnt look like an overly difficult day. Little did i know that i would turn out to be the worst day of my life. After nearly 8hrs of bone numbing riding i was unable to even undress once i reached the finish. 2hrs in the bathtub and i was finally able to take off my shoes and booties.....the funny thing is, i realise that this sounds like a major exaggeration, but 10 days later i can still not feel the tips of my ring or little finger on my left hand. This is me warming up for the prologue. I look serious, but i got my ass well and truly kicked. It was a strong mans course....and im not a particularly strong man it would seem.


So now im stuck, 10 days later, still recovering from my virus and having been smashed all weekend in the 2nd race of the year in Merced, CA. Ben Jaques-Maybes picked up where he left off last season and wound up on the podium both days. The team did a good job, challenged well by Colavita and Wohlburg.....but we made Rock Racing look stupid, which im sure is every teams major goal all year.
Merced criterium break (thanks to www.roadbikereview.com). You can see me in there if you look carefully.

Ben on the podium. He was on fire, despite suffering the same virus that i have. You just cant hold him down.

So now I have arrived at my base for the year in Lewisville, North Carolina. I cant believe how unbelievable this house im living in is. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few weeks, cause im going to have some introductions to my new pad. Ill do my best to keep some regular posts coming youre way.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

TALES FROM TRAINING CAMP

SANTA ROSA, CA
When i first arrived Jan 30, I was greated by 3 days of consitant rain coupled with 4 degree temperatures. It was definately a shock to the system. But as is usually the case, the pre season excitement often overcomes most of these issues and you find yourself able to front up and ride in conditions you otherwise wouldnt dare. We braved the driving rain and low temps for our team photos that happened the day after i arrived. Still realing from a terrible hair cut before i left home, that was by far the worst part to deal with....as it will stick with me the entire year.
But when the sun finally did come out....Santa Rosa is a beautiful place for a training camp and one of the nicer places i have ridden in the US. Our massive mansion atop to hills of the city is certainly a great view to wake up to each morning...but not a great way to finish each and every ride.

NEW GEAR.....ITS LIKE THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER

Like the beginning of every season, getting the new gear is always an exciting part for any cyclist. Our new kit has, again, surpassed anything that we have riden in the past. The new colours for the team are bright and powerful. Lets hope that they can be seem as easily from the front of the bunch during the season.


The new team bike and kit in action. You may not be able to tell, but it is about 1 degree and raining....








The Pinarello Prince.....this bike deserves a special mention.....it is by far the most beautiful thing i have ever ridden. I cant even begin to explain what a sweet ride this is and coupled with the first sub 2kg groupset.....SRAM Red......this bike is the most special thing ever...check out some of the specifics of my ride.....
Frame: Pinarello Prince
Groupo: SRAM Red
Wheels: Easton
Saddle: Fi'zi:k Aliante










Not to mention my new TT rig.....
Last but not least....the new kids on the block.....
Aaron Olson: Nicknamed "PT" for his 2 years on the Pro Tour, Aaron is a great guy who will be of tremendous importance to the team and its direction with his energy and experience.
Joao Correia: I heard him described as a Portugese mobster...that fits for me. If you need something done, then Joao is your man.
Burke Swindlehurst: He is like a yoda. I think his experience and guidence will make a massive difference to the team this year. I look forward to looking to him and his leadership in some of the big races this year.
Jeremy Vennell: I tried last year to have this guy on my team and finally succeeded. The Kiwi is a champ and he will add strength across the board to this team.
Steven Howard: I have known Steve for a couple of years...the local Michigan boy has worked his way into the team after improving through the development team. He will add speed and give me someone to lead out from time to time.
Its a great mix and I am already looking forward to a great year. After a hard core training camp week, the Tour of Cali team is decided and we are going to do our best to rattle a few PT boys and hopefully look to take a stage somewhere during the 8 days.......
Later

Monday, January 28, 2008

SAYING GOODBYE.......

GOODBYE HOME
My time at home has come and is about to be gone. It has been such a short visit home compared to my usual experience, where i would be still at home racing on the track for another month or so. It funny how one descision can effect so many aspects of your life...not that i am complaining....i am very much looking forward to the season ahead of me.
So how do you say goodbye to Australia...whats better than a day at the Aus Open with your old man. There was once a time, where tennis was my number 1 sport. Those days have come and gone and now it has been years since i even held a raquet, but there is still something great about the sporting assets that Melbourne has. Dad and i had a great day with 3 good games, but more than that, just a day of male bonding...that is often missing with our work schedules.



After leaving Melbourne and my family, it was off to Sydney for a week to spend some time with my fiancee. The week included scouting some possible wedding destinations, house hunting and also just some quality time together. Kate got sick for the last few days and i meant that on my last day with her she had no voice....as fun as it was to begin with, after i while i realised how much i missed her voice.....
As everyone can imagine, saying goodbye to Kate for nearly 2 months was very hard. Im not affraid to admit i cried like a little girl who had her lollipop stolen. It was very hard and we dont like being apart for much longer than a week....its always tough, but this year is going to be very tough with all the Olympic commitments, so we were not happy that this marked the begginning of all that separation. But as is always the case, i still had to leave and as she dissapeared through the exit of the airport i found myself there....lingering and wacthing her back....then her sillouette as she left. More tears and more anxiety......This year, unlike 2 years ago i have to ride out the distance and take on my responsibilities as expected in the US. 2 phone calls a day has helped the pain in my stomach a little....but not enough.
Sorry about the sop fest, but this is a blog that is supposed to tell people what im doing and how im feeling...so here it is. Next blog will be based in the USA.....more tales of racing and riding....

Monday, January 14, 2008

TIME TO GET BACK TO BLOGGING.....

So it would seem, that like most of my team mates, blogging has not been high on our list of priorities. So forgive me father, for i have sinned, it has been...like 6 weeks since i last published what i have been doing in this repetitive life of mine.

Let me start my first blog of 2008 by saying Merry Christmas and welcome to 2008 for everyone. I hope that we all had a great little holiday and that everyone brought in the new year safely.

So as it has been a long time since my last blog, i am not even going to attempt to bring everyone up to speed regarding what my Christmas and new years break entailed. I will sum it up by saying that the 3 roast dinners in 3 days over 2 states and with 4 families was certainly a struggle to recover from. The most exciting thing by far that i have to report from the past month is that Kate and i became engaged when i asked her to marry me on December 19. It is all very exciting and although the wedding details were well on the way within minutes of the "surprise" engagement, a date has not yet been set. With this news in mind, the reality is that everything else pales into insignificance.

I have started my racing season for 2008 and it has been a marked improvement on the Richard of 12 months ago. Bay crits, was by far, my most consistent performance across the 5 days in my 4th attempt and 3 top 10's meant i was able to salvage some good results from the week. The national road title ran its course yesterday and after making less than 50% of the race last year i rode a far more impressive race to finish in 25th this year. It is a course that really tests my weakness', with far more climbing that i can really sustain. But there was significant improvement in the way i climbed yesterday in comparison to any other time i can remember. I wasn't able to handle the accelerations of the leaders, but finished with a small group not too far off the pace.

Overall the year is shaping up to be a great one. Im engaged, my form and confidence is definitely improved from this time last year and i am excited about the challenges and opportunities that 2008 holds. Hopefully everyone shares the same enthusiasm for the new year as i do and i look forward to sharing some of the stories with you.....

Later everyone