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photo courtesy of Teri Dodds.
Another beautiful day at the Tour of Geelong. A 63km criterium in pleasant conditions which I’m sure everyone enjoyed ;-)
I wasn’t there to experience today’s “epicness” but I can’t say I’m complaining after seeing these photos. It seems there’s a certain age that cyclists hit where it doesn’t seem so important to participate in these types of races any longer. We clearly saw Lance Armstrong hit this age this year and on a much less grand scale, I’m starting to question it myself. Don’t get me wrong – riding and suffering in miserable weather can be a very satisfying in a demented sort of way. Even road racing in harsh conditions isn’t that bad once you get going. Crit racing in miserable weather is a completely different thing. I think when you start questioning it, you start to enter a different era of your cycling career.
In any case, I’ve got to hand it to these guys. They raced hard today in ridiculously windy, wet and cold conditions and I admire them for that. Pat Lane (Jayco-Skins) took out the sprint thanks to some great teamwork to bring back the break. If you’ve seen how small Patty is it’s astonishing that this young man can sprint as well as he can climb. I remember seeing him on the Hell Ride a few years ago when I first moved to Melbourne. He was 12yrs old and his 50cm bike was too big. He kept up with the big guys and even had a crack on the front from time to time. Never scared to mix it up against guys 20yrs older than him. I’m privileged to be racing against him, Rohan Dennis, and all the other young guns we’ll be seeing win Grand Tour stages in a few years time.
Full Tour of Geelong Stage 3 Results here.
This just in. A timely guest post to inspire me!
You’re Riding Today?! Yup, You’re The HTFU Champ Around Here…
by Jamie Jowett
With the abysmal weather in Victoria right now, many are opting for the wind trainer, or just softing it like me. In fact, those racing in the Tour of Geelong may have reason to argue that they own the national HTFU title right now.
Kenny van Hummel’s ride in stage 15 of the 2009 Tour de France may serve as inspiration. As previously mentioned here the Dutchman from the Skil Shimano team crossed the line in last place but beat the cut off time to stay in the race. Pumping his fist and screaming, having eaten most of his handlebars, and clearly having an outer body experience, Hummel said of himself, “a lot of sprinters went home already, Kenny van Hummel is still here. And I’m proud of that”.
So now is as good a time as any to have a look back at several Classics and Tour stages, made all the more memorable by seriously bad weather…
In 1910, the esteemed Italian spring classic the Milan-San Remo started badly, and only got worse over its 289 kilometres. 20cm of snow fell on race morning and the 65 hardy competitors battled for 12½ hours on the day to only record an average of 23 km’s/hr.
HTFU King for the day, Eugenio Christophe knew he was in for a tough day, “not far from the summit I had to get off my bike because I started feeling bad. My fingers were rigid, my feet numb, my legs shaking continuously. I began walking and running to get my circulation back. It was bleak and the wind made a low moaning noise”. Christophe got back on his bike and crossed the line first. He spent the next month in hospital suffering frostbite and apparently took two years to get his health back.
Brutal is a word used too often in exaggeration, but the Passo Gavia on Stage 14 of the 1988 Giro D’Italia was the equivalent to being on your back inside the UFC Octagon with elbows raining down on you.
With bucketing rain at the start of the stage in the valley below, sleeting snow and 18km’s of climbing stared down the riders all the way to the 2,621m Gavia summit. Race organisers hastily shortened the stage, but sent the peloton off anyway.
Andy Hampsten said later, “everyone was freaked out. I mean, I’d already been shivering uncontrollably on one of the earlier descents… yeah, some guys were saying ‘don’t attack’…I could see that everyone was terrified, so I just said ‘I’m going to do it’..”
Blurry photos show the snow white arms and shoulders of ‘Le petit lapin’, as he gripped the bars and gritted his teeth into falling snow. Caught at the top by eventual winner Erik Breukink while he stopped to put a jacket on, they faced a steep winding descent for 12km’s. At that point they overtook leader Johan Van der Velde, who had literally frozen solid and would finish the stage 40 minutes behind.
Stuck in the 53 x 14 on the descent because the rest of his gears had frozen, Hampsten feathered his brakes through hairpins another 13km’s to the finish down into Bolmio. “When I did look down at my legs once, they were bright red and I had a sheet of ice on the front of my knee and shins”, he said. Hampsten held the leader’s jersey for the remainder of the Giro to be the first non-Euro winner ever.
Team Sky’s Ian Stannard made a strong bid for this year’s HTFU trophy in dismal conditions at the Belgium classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the KBK. With slippery cobblestone climbs and bleaker than bleak conditions, only 26 riders survived to the finish.
Stannard went away early at 99km’s with 13 others, and found himself cracking all but three of that bunch on the Kruisberg climb at the 110km mark. “It was so cold that I couldn’t move my jaw to eat, the guys in the car were tearing the tops off the gels for me”.
Stannard told of how on the finishing circuits he just seized, “the last lap was just survival”, he said. Grinding it out in the big ring from a long way out, he sheepishly admitted later, “I was just trying get something out of my legs – I knew Bobby would win a sprint and I had to try to get rid of him”. Fumbling with his keys to the pain locker, third place went to the Englishman with balls of granite who admitted, “There was one occasion where I changed up instead of down, because I couldn’t feel properly”.
Aussie Jay Sweet rode for the French Big Mat team in the 1999 Tour de France. He is dismissive of the Passage du Gois, a historic stage in Northern France that travels across a road subject to tides. “This track went out into the sea. It was ridiculous, wet and slippery, but they did it for the spectacle”.
Sweet crashed twice that day, of the second time he said, “I pulled myself out of the sludge on the side of the road and this guy Michelel Coppolino of Mercatore Uno was screaming in pain. His handlebars had turned and the bung had come out of the end, and it had taken a perfect piece of flesh out of his leg”.
Later in the Tour Sweet saw him still in the race with his leg bandaged, “I pushed him on a couple of hills because I thought, if he has the guts to get back on after that, the least I can do is help him”.
So, if like me you are questioning whether or not you will get out and ride in this weather, say out loud the words that Kenny van Hummel said after that stage, “I didn’t care if I was gonna make it in time or not. I’m tough. I’ll quit when I fall off my bike…”
References: Greg Johnson ‘Tales from the peloton’, cycling news , Edmond Hood, Pez Cycling, Cycling Sport Magazine August 2010