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Bonjourno from Italy! I’m saying that with a big smile on my face as I’m really happy to be back in the sunshine. The hospitality of Ireland was absolutely fantastic, but the weather didn’t exactly make the racing so much fun. Even the Italians had a grin from ear to ear with a 6:30am departure from the hotel yesterday morning!
I do have to say though, I was really impressed with the reception the whole race received. Ireland really got behind the whole event and I was amazed at the number of spectators braving the wet and windy conditions.
As for Belkin, I think we limited the damage as best as we could and had some success with Tajlo (that’s what we call Maarten Tjallingii) being in both breakaways and taking the climbers jersey which he should be able to hold for a while now.
The team left Ireland satisfied with how everything went. Speaking for myself I was happy to arrive in Italy. I live only ten minutes from the Italian/French border (in Monaco) and spend most of my days on the bike in Italy, so I’ve developed a real liking to the country. The coffee, the food, the people…what’s not to love?
Instead of talking to much about the race which I’m sure you already know about, I thought I’d offer a little insight into the various ways the guys on the team prepare for the Giro.
Giro training and preparation
Our Giro squad always seems to have a mix of guys who specialise from the Flemish Classics, the Ardennes Classics and of course we need our climber/GC rider.
The team and I made a plan last year for me to be going well in January for the Tour Down Under, then to back it off a bit and build back up with a big block of altitude training (instead of Paris Nice, Tirreno Adriatico, and Milan-San Remo) in preparation for the Ardennes and the Giro.
It was all going to plan until I touched down on stage one of Tour Down Under and busted my collarbone. Not a very good start! I was determined to get it back together and did a month at altitude despite going there with a very low level of fitness. In hindsight this probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but I can be stubborn and was determined to stick to a plan. That probably led to the tendinitis that developed after the altitude training so I missed even more racing, but I managed to get some k’s in my legs at Pais Vasco before the Ardennes Classics (which didn’t go as well as I hoped!). I usually have one chance in the Ardennes to have a crack for myself and that’s at Amstel Gold Race. At Liège–Bastogne–Liège and La Flèche Wallonne I have a job to do for our man Bauke Mollema. Just my luck though, I had another bingle at Amstel which put me out of the race with a injured knee! Oh, and let’s not talk about the bee sting a couple days before I left to the Giro…
So coming in to the Giro hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, but I’ve done enough work and had the racing to have a decent level of form for the next three weeks.
Our four mountain goats, two of which are our GC hopes didn’t race much after Volta a Catalunya and opted to do a big block of altitude training in Tenerife, which believe me is hard yakka. Each day it’s a two and a half hour slog back up to the hotel after a a big of climbing already. Our coaches thinking behind this is that the hardest and most decisive part of the Giro is the second half of the tour, so they want our GC guys to arrive fresh into the Tour (i.e. not raced) but with a high level of fitness. This is what training in Tenerife does, in theory.
The big fellas, Martijn (Keizer), Rick (Flens) and Jos (van Emden) all do the Flemish cobbled classics to prepare for the Giro. Straight after Paris-Roubaix they take a rest; usually a very easy week and then back training with only one day of racing in their legs to find their rhythm. Jetse (Bol) raced Tour of Turkey as his final hit-out as he also plays a big part in Theo bosses sprint team.
This year lot of guys have been discouraged from doing the two classic perpetration races, Tour of Turkey and Tour of Romandy, because the Giro started a day earlier than normal.
I hope this gives everyone a bit of insight to what various riders do to get into form for a Grand Tour and what kind of build up that the the different types of riders need in order to do their jobs and meet team commitments.
I better be off now…It’s just about dinner time and I could eat the back-end out of a low flying duck!