Saturday, June 30, 2007
Well I am alive!
Not the best day for me yesterday. From the moment I got on the bike i knew something was wrong. My guts weren’t right and it felt like my eyes were going cross-eyed and at time i was hallucinating and dizzy. I could barely take in any nutrition which didn’t help and got off the bike and nearly didn’t make it out of transition. I had a couple of piecs of orange to get some sugar/calories in and thought i would give it a shot and see if i could and gradually felt better but not normal.
I am not sure if i picked something up from the water as it has been raining here all week and maybe some bug got into my stomach but i have never felt like that before and nor do i want to again!!
Even though I wasn’t the feeling the best, the locals came out of their houses and were cheering us on, old ladies with their pots banging them with their wooden spoons, little kids running alongside us, at aid stations they had people pouring buckets of water over athletes' heads and the finish was pretty unique, you run into this castle with these guys playing traditional (huge)drums with lanterns lit, you run over the mote and into that then around the corner and into the school.
Food afterwards-oodon noodles in broth...didn’t think I would want to eat another noodle as long as I lived but after a couple of hours they were good...and Mos Burger for a burger, fries and a vanilla thick shake went down well too:)
Thanks for all your well wishes, we are heading back to the US tomorrow and will be going straight to Oggi's for pizza!!
For more information on Kate visit her site @ www.majorkate.com
In what's becoming an annual event, the Commune di Bibbona (city of Bibbona) on the Tuscan coast pays tribute to its most famous son. Bettini Day is an opportunity for lesser mortals to meet, get photographed with, and ride alongside the reigning Italian, World and Olympic Champion. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins went along for the ride.
There may have been more popular World Champions in the past, but - no disrespect to his teammate Tom Boonen - no one in recent years has won the rainbow jersey to quite such universal acclaim as Paolo Bettini. There was a definite feeling that the correct result occurred in Salzburg last year. Il Grillo - the reigning Italian and Olympic champion, and outstanding one-day rider of his generation - had one yawning gap in his palmarès, a gap that has now been filled.
That's the dominant feeling in one corner of Tuscany anyway - the Etruscan coastal area around the hilltop town of Bibbona, including the village of La California where Bettini was born and grew up. The area is off - but not that far off - the usually beaten track of Tuscany: the spectacular, albeit congested, Siena province with its hilltop tourist attractions like San Gimignano and Volterra; the mediaeval cities of Florence and Pisa with their galleries and Torre Pendente; the winding roads of the Chianti region. This area, south of the old port of Livorno, is where the rolling, green hills of Tuscany meet the lapping shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. A great location for combining a beach holiday with a bit of cycling, and, as it happens, for breeding champion cyclists.
Events centre on the beach resort of Marina di Bibbona, a collection of hotels, holiday apartments and campsites situated right on a long sandy stretch of beach that built up around an old fort built by Napoleon's army of the south. The two-day festival consists of a chance for amateur riders - with a certain degree of experience - to accompany Paolo on a 'training ride' on the roads that he loves, followed by a moutain bike ride through some of the off-road trials that criss-cross the region. The next day, is for everyone though, as anyone - young and old - with a bike is welcome to join il Grillo in a promenade around the local area. On this Sunday ride the emphasis is very much on family fun, with a pasta party afterwards (featuring a lot of the local wine) with opportunities for autographs and photographs with the World Champion.
Obviously - because Bettini rides for Quick.Step-Innergetic - events enjoy a certain amount of support from his team, its riders, and especially its sponsors. Consequently, bike supplier Specialized is on hand with bikes to ride - especially welcome as it meant that I didn't have to take one on my flight. My bike for the weekend was to be a Tarmac Pro, with a mix of Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace and Roval Fusee wheels. This was good news, as I've ridden and loved the Specialized Roubaix, but not tried the Tarmac before.
Not only would we be riding with Bettini, but he'd also persuaded a couple of his Quick.Step teammates to join us in the shape of Leonardo Scarselli and Giovanni Visconti. Such was the clamour for Paolo's attention though, the pair almost managed to pass unnoticed - but still managed to bask in a certain amount of the glow from their capitano. Visconti in particular, is regarded as one of the next big things in Italian cycling, so he attracted a great amount of attention from the more knowledgeable fans there. The young and the inexperienced just wanted Paolo though…
With the usual relaxed Italian attitude to punctuality the ride began, Bettini, Scarselli and Visconti at the head of things, keeping the pace nice and civilised. Although this was billed as a training ride, it certainly wasn't one - not for these three professionals anyway! As we cruised out of town, we were preceded all the way by a large truck containing various still photographers and video cameramen. Every bit of this weekend was being recorded for posterity as the VIPs took turns to ride next to - or as near as they could get to - Bettini. I managed to maintain a discreet distance though - as I have been guilty of mugging it for the cameras in the past, particularly with my absolute hero Johann Museeuw.
While it was clear that this was no training ride for Bettini, it was becoming one for some of us! One thing that you always notice when you ride with i professionali is that when the road starts to roll up and down and you begin to stomp on the pedals to try and keep the speed up, or change down a gear or two, they don't. He doesn't know it, but I've ridden with Paolo before: I was 150km in to the tourist version of the Amstel Gold Race last year - feeling a bit rough and trying to muster my reserves - when a blue and grey blur flashed past, it was the Quick.Step team on a reconnaissance leg-stretch. I just about managed to up my pace enough to latch on to the back wheel of il Grillo, as he had an animated conversation with then teammate Pippo Pozzato. I managed to stay with them for a few kilometres, enjoying the free ride, but before long the road started to rise and I couldn't hold them. I was left to watch them disappear up into the distance, the two Italians continuing their conversation without pausing for breath.
The same was happening today. Except that, because the pace was something I could live with comfortably, I managed to up my effort and stay with the guys at the front - this was a new experience for me, other people were being dropped! Even on the steep climb into the hilltop centre of Bibbona - surfaced as it was in little cubetti cobbles - I was somehow holding my own against the locals, maybe all my recent suffering in the Dolomiti was somehow worthwhile?
The course for the day took us around the rural area, past vineyards, through wooded areas and alongside various fields of crops and livestock before we arrived - not far from where we'd started - at the village of the Bettini family: La California. As well as being the place where he grew up, his parents still live - and sadly his brother died last year - in La California, which is also the location of the Club Paolo Bettini. Many of the club members were on the ride with us, their distinctive jerseys somehow managing to combine the two rainbows of the (no longer with us) World Cup and World Champion, plus the Italian tricolore, and the Olympic Rings!
This was the serious business of the day, as the wine was opened and several of the members partook in a little club celebration. No one seemed to notice that the club bar is situated on the busy road through the middle of the village, and quite a traffic jam ensued as the cars tried to squeeze past. Now and then the motorists were responsible for their own congestion though, as a driver would recognise the little chap in the striped jersey and stop.
After 10 minutes or so, we were back on our bikes and heading back into the hills towards Villa Caprareccia a local agriturismo (a 'farm' that doubles as a hotel - or vice versa) for lunch. This was to be a traditional Etruscan affair, featuring a large selection of specialities from the local area, including various pasta dishes, some local beef (I had my favourite - grilled cheese - instead!) and some great vegetables. All this was washed down with liberal quantities of their own red wine.
As lunch settled, Bettini was put in the hot seat in an improvised press conference. He answered lots of questions about the disappointments of his own personal Giro and what he thought of Danilo Di Luca's performance, his plans for the rest of the season and how much more he could win - most of which he has already shared with Cyclingnews readers in his most recent diary. As evidence of the relaxed nature of the day, he even told us the name of his dog, in case we wanted to link him to Operación Puerto - this caused something of a ripple of mirth amongst the assembled media.
After lunch had gone down we all changed our shoes for the off-road kind and jumped aboard some mountain bikes that Specialized had brought along. I was given an S-Works Stumpjumper FSR, featuring a full carbon front triangle and four inches of travel at either end. It also had Magura discs to stop the Mavic Crossmax SLR wheels, and a mix of Shimano XTR and SRAM X.0. Somewhat different from my usual fat tyred steed which is a completely rigid steel singlespeed!
Thankfully, for my wine anesthetised legs and the state of the very expensive bike I was now sitting on, the route we were to take was not in the least bit technical. It featured some pretty steep climbs and descents, but I was given plenty of time to think about which button I was supposed to press to change up or down, so I managed to stay out of trouble. The trails we rode were nice wide hiking, cycling and horse riding trails through the protected forest area. I suppose they had once been classed as traditional Tuscan strade bianche (white roads, that are actually, rarely white), but nowadays they were too badly rutted and cracked. Just right for a casual afternoon spin.
The next morning was the real festa that the whole district would get involved in. Bettini Day was the chance for anyone, young and old, on racing bikes, mountain bikes, shopping bikes, new bikes, old bikes, rusty bikes held together with string, to ride with Paolo. Yesterday had been just for us 'experienced' riders, today was for everybody.
Everybody who turned up got a Bettini Day t-shirt, and of course - the most important accessory for an event in Italy - a ticket entitling them to join the post ride pasta party. Sadly, my t-shirt was too small (that's all that was left!), but I put my food voucher in a very safe place as I managed to find my Tarmac Pro from yesterday, reattach the pedals and join the swelling crowds in Marina di Bibbona's main street.
The ride was due to start at 10 am, so dead on 11:15 we set off on a promenade circuit of the surrounding villages, a similar route to much of yesterday morning's ride - but at a far more civilised pace! All the while, il Grillo, on a mountain bike with his daughter Veronica sitting on a seat in front of him rode up and down the massive peloton, giving everyone a chance to ride with him, and probably to thank everyone personally for their support.
After an extended stop just outside the historical centre of Bibbona, we cruised our way back to the start and the second part of Bettini's big day. Pasta parties at this sort of event are always extremely high quality affairs - well they are to me anyway. The food served at a typical event probably doesn't seem anything special to the average Italian, but it's the kind of stuff you could sell in a restaurant back in the UK. You'll never find me not using my food voucher!
Poor Paolo had to go without his food for quite a while though, as main attraction of the day he was required to autograph something for almost everybody there, and pose for pictures with hundreds of people. As this was a big part of the day though, he was really happy to oblige, it was just one way for him to thank his fans for their unwavering support all year round.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Now entering its fifth year, the Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship has become a classic race on the Ironman calendar.
There’s a lot that this event has going for it. There are thousands of spectators … OK, that should probably read hundreds of thousands of spectators who line both the bike and run course to watch the incredible day of racing.
The race somehow manages to mix big city excitement with Germany countryside. There's a bike course that has everything from climbs to cobblestones, and a run course along the River Main that provides lots of great spectator viewing and opportunities for the athletes to keep track of their competition.
Then there’s the finish line in the famed Romer Platz. There simply isn’t another finish line like it in the sport. For hundreds of years it was the site where German emperor’s were crowned. It remains the spot where the country’s greatest athletes are honored. On Sunday we’ll see an incredible day of racing come to an end in that famous Platz.
By: Kevin Mackinnon
Someone needs to explain to Faris Al-Sultan that he’s just got to smarten up. You simply can’t be as good as he is and still be so laid back and easy-going about his training and racing.
You can’t be a world champion and not have a manager, even in our sport. This guy not only doesn’t have a manager, he replies to all his own e-mails. Every one. What is that? You can find his phone number in the phone book. It gets even better. How do you think he got to the pro meeting here in Frankfurt today. Sponsored car? Nope. Limo? Guess again. Taxi? Hardly. The 2005 Ford Ironman World Champion took the subway.
It gets even better than that. His girlfriend, Ina Reinders, was desperate to get back to the hotel to rest after the pro meeting. She had to wait every few hundred meters because … his cell phone kept ringing – friends and acquaintances kept calling to wish him luck. One woman who stopped him to sign her race program didn’t just get his autograph, it looked like he wrote her a full fledged memo.
Al-Sultan needs to get with the program. Sure, there are lots of really nice world champions out there. I know lots of them. But I don’t begrudge them the chance to hide for a few days before a big race. On that note, here’s another thing. Once you become one of the best in the world, you’re supposed to be negotiating new deals all the time, not loyally sticking to the same major sponsors you’ve had since 2001.
OK, while I’m on this roll: Even his appearance doesn’t fit with an athlete as good as he is. Riding next to him, you look over and think “I can dust this guy.” You don’t see bulging muscles. He’s not cut and defined like, say, his countryman Normann Stadler. Heck, he wears his hair in a ponytail.
He doesn’t even act like a big-time pro. All of Germany is raving about the upcoming battle between Normann Stadler and him on Sunday, and he just happily hangs out waiting for the big race. He rode the course with all the age group athletes on Wednesday. No trail car. No helpers. He had an extra water bottle in his back pocket.
Faris … get a grip! It’s the week before the Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship. You’re supposed to demand your own car to escort you around the course!
The first time I ever saw Faris Al-Sultan was at Ironman Canada in 2004. Three nights before the race the rest of the pro field was in hiding, hydrating and resting and staying out of the spotlight. Not Faris. He was planning on doing a run that day, so he figured he might as well do the 5 km fun run. He loped his way to second that night, and followed that up with a fourth place finish a few days later in Penticton.
I remember underestimating his chances a few days before I watched him dust the field at Ford Ironman Arizona in 2005. When I saw what he did to some of the world’s top triathletes that day, I told anyone who wanted to listen to me in Kona later that year that he was likely the man to beat. I still remember Bob Babbitt and Paul Huddle asking me what gave me that inkling after Faris became the 2005 World Champion …
“What impressed me so much about Faris was that he seems to have such a great attitude,” I told them. “He truly seems to be completely relaxed out on the course – he goes hard, and if he wins, great. If he doesn’t … it seems as though he is happy to have given it his best shot. It’s also very deceptive watching him race – he’s going much faster than it looks. There’s a lot of power hidden in that body.”
I’m slowly learning that Faris isn’t really that laid back about his racing. I’m not sure if he has some hidden killer instinct that miraculously appears when the gun goes off, but in an interview today he told me he was getting a bit nervous about Sunday’s race.
We could do worse than have Faris Al-Sultan continue to be one of the world’s best Ironman athletes. He’s intelligent, he’s accessible, he’s well-spoken and he’s an excellent ambassador for the sport. I wish he would wear a helmet when he was training. I applaud his quick willingness (along with the entire pro field here in Frankfurt, as far as I can tell) to consent to a blood test as an anti-doping measure here in Frankfurt.
So maybe I don’t want to see Faris Al-Sultan change too much. Good luck on Sunday.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Once again Frankfurt will pay host to a competitive and festive race on Sunday. This will be the first showdown of the 2007 season with Normann Stadler the 2006 Ironman Hawaii Champion taking on Faris Al Sultan the 2005 Ironman Hawaii Champion.
Candid shots of today's press gathering, and Faris checking out the Frankfurt course.
After 13 highly successful years, Normann Stadler and PowerBar Europe have decided to end their highly successful relationship by mutual agreement. The successful partnership between PowerBar and Stadler started in 1994 and PowerBar was a constant training partner of Stadler through his triathlon career, including his numerous IRONMAN wins. However the crowning achievement was when Normann was crowned the 2004 IRONMAN World Champion, a feat he repeated in 2006! The contractual relationship will terminate at the end of July 2007.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
In a teleconference with media from around the world, Johan Bruyneel announced today that the nine-man Discovery Channel roster for the Tour de France will be led by American Levi Leipheimer.
Joining Leipheimer will be fellow American George Hincapie, along with Alberto Contador, Vladimir Gusev, Egoi Martinez, Benjamin Noval, Sergio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych and Tomas Vaitkus.
Disco boss Bruyneel made it clear why he picked the team that he did. "I am going into this Tour de France with three goals in mind. First, and most important, I want to have Levi on the podium in Paris. He has been three times in the top-10 and I think he has the form and experience to be there."
"Beyond that, I would like to win at least one stage and also have Alberto Contador win the Best Young Rider competition. That is of course a lot to ask of one team but I think it is possible given the amount of talent we have on our roster. I would even say that a fourth goal is to wear the leaders jersey too, but for me that is not a major focus unless it is because we are wearing it into Paris."
Leipheimer was his usual calm and collected self, even when posed with the question about being the team leader for the team he started with back in the US Postal days. "It definitely does mean a lot to me. I started my career with this team and now to be back with riders like George it is a dream come true. And to go in as the leader of the classification is an honour for me."
Recovox wants to say congrats to Olaf on his amazing time of 8:15:15 at Roth. Olaf had to take time off due to a bout with cancer, and it seems like he is back in fine form!...well done Olaf.
"I ran a 1.06.42 on the 20 k run to finish 2nd at the European Champs today in Belgium!! I was beat by homecrowd favourite Fredrik van Lierde who lead wire to wire but I took 4 minutes back on the run. I ran two laps with speedster Stephen Bayliss from Britain before I dropped him and cruised in as 2nd"
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Former cycling great Laurent Jalabert has made a strong Ironman debut. The sprinter and Classics French star, with a palmarès that includes a Milano-Sanremo win, Tour de France points and mountains jerseys, and the Vuelta a España overall, finished 21st overall in the Swiss Ironman.
His time of nine hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds was aided by a strong run (3:11'38") and bike (4:39'16") leg. The race winner was Swiss Ronnie Schildknecht with a time of 8:25'00".
The 38 year-old will now focus on his work as a France2 commentator for the next month at the Tour de France, a race where he has won four stages. His next race will be the 2007 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
It felt great to be out racing again. It has been a little while since my last triathlon, and I truly missed being out there. The past month or so I have been focusing on training and with that was some bike racing. I have felt that my training has been going well and that I have been getting faster.
So racing this weekend at the San Jose International Triathlon was a great test as I prepare for a couple half Ironmans, starting with Vineman Ironman 70.3 in a couple weeks. The week leading up to this race was a big block of training with a lot of running and riding a solid 4 hour ride the day before. Well, needless to say my legs were not feeling that great out there on the bike, but my fitness has been going so well that I could muscle through it. I still had a great 40k bike leg, riding it in 52 minutes. I had a comfortable lead coming off the bike that I could relax in the run and pace myself.
I won the race with a time of 1:47, and got to enjoy the finishing stretch with my son Kaiden. It was a great day that proved to me that my training is on track and I am doing the right things leading up to Vineman and ultimately the Ironman World Championship in October. Lance Watson, my coach, has done a great job balancing my schedule and giving me what I need to improve in all 3 disciplines.
I have been lucky to have great people and companies supporting me. With out them I couldn’t enjoy what I do and be able to excel the way I have. Astavita has been a solid part of my triathlon for the last 2 years as well as Trek. And I am very excited to have K-Swiss and Earth fx come on board and become a part of the family. Watch for some incredible things coming from K-Swiss in the near future. I am very excited for the rest of the year and look forward to the next one.
Thanks for all your support. Chris
Chris Lieto used the San Jose triathlon as a training day for his build up to his next race the 70.3 Vineman half Ironman. Lieto used a sizzling 52 min. bike split for the 40k course to coast to the overall victory.
For more information on Chris please visit his site @ www.chrislieto.com
Monday, June 25, 2007
One of the classics of long distance triathlon, this Sunday’s Quelle Challenge Roth (QCR) boasted 4,135 athletes representing 44 nations. The swim for the pros started at 6:20am, with the rest of the field following in waves. First out of the water for the men was Australian Pete Jacobs, followed by Rene Gohler. Jacobs was able to hold his lead for the first several miles on the bike. Race favorite and 2006 QCR Champion, Chris McCormack (Macca) came out of the water with the second pack after losing his goggles at the beginning of the swim. Leading the pack of pursuers on the bike was Thomas Hellriegel, followed closely by Macca, Llanos and Andreas Niedrig. Hellriegel overtook Jacobs at the 95k (59 mi) mark, with Macca close behind. The two came into T2 together on a world record pace, though Macca would quickly stamp his authority on the run as he was 15 seconds ahead of Hellriegel already at the 1k mark. Llanos came in 8 minutes back, followed by Niedrig another 2 minutes. Macca was a man on a mission as he attempted to set a new iron distance world record. From the start of the run, it was clear that the race for the men would be for 2nd and 3rd place. Although he missed Luc Van Lierde’s record, Macca crossed the line in a stunning time of 7:54:23. Behind Macca came Llanos, fresh off his victory at Ironman Lanzarote, in a time of 8:06:06, with Jacobs coming in behind him at 8:09:18.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Recovox wants to wish Phil the best of luck at this weekends Ironman CDA. Watch Phil take on his first ironman at www.ironmanlive.com, and look for # 1722.
This is a photo of Phil as he packed his bike before his flight up to Idaho...."Good Luck Phil"!
Neal Rogers, Senior Writer, VeloNews
A look at the top of the results from last year's Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah revealed a name familiar to endurance athletes, but perhaps not to cyclists. Riding for the Bay Area-based California Giant Strawberries amateur squad, professional triathlete Chris Lieto made it into the breakaway on the final stage and finished fourth on the climb into Snowbird Resort, just nine seconds behind Navigators Insurance star Phil Zajicek. Lieto, 35, finished the race 11th overall, 5:32 behind overall winner Scott Moninger. Eight weeks later, Lieto went on to place ninth at October's Hawaii Ironman, the top American finisher. More recently Lieto was at it again at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, held in early June in Hood River, Oregon, where he twice tried to bridge across from the field to breakaways. Though his attempts were unsuccessful, Lieto put in a strong performance, finishing fifth on the pivotal 18.5-mile time trial, ahead of two-time national time-trial champion Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United). Lieto then placed 14th on stage 5, a grueling 90-mile day with nearly 10,000 feet of elevation gain, to finish 7th overall, 3:08 behind overall winner Nathan O'Neill. We caught up with Lieto after the final stage at Mt. Hood, a criterium, to ask him about moonlighting as a bike racer
Neal Rogers: How long have you been racing with California Giant Strawberries-Specialized?
Chris Lieto: I started riding with them in 2005. I did the Cascade Cycling Classic. I thought I was going to go solo, but they needed a rider so I joined them. Last year they asked me if I wanted to ride with them again, so I did Cascade and the Tour of Utah. I did all right that last day; I ended up being in the break. I'm just doing it for training, and to break up the monotony of Ironman training, and going by yourself all the time. Coming out to Hood River, riding with some people and getting in a solid week of training was good.
NR: So your connection to the team was from living in the Bay Area?
CL: Yeah, I know some of the guys from my hometown in Danville, in the East Bay.
NR: This interview isn't holding you up, is it? You're not about to go for a run are you?
CL: No, no, I only did that a couple of times this week. My legs hurt too much after the time trial, but I ran after the first stage [prologue] and after the circuit race, and after the stage 5 climbing day. That was freaking killer. When I finished the run I thought, ‘that was stupid.' I was a little loopy because of the heat. It's been hard with the 90-degree weather every day.
NR: How many other triathletes jump into weeklong pro/1/2 stage races? I know Steve Larsen used to do some bike racing while training for triathlon, and Chann McRae would as well.
CL: I don't think anyone does. Larsen was the last guy, and he came from cycling. I enjoy it, it's fun. My first objective, my first goal, is to come out and train, but then I'm very competitive so I'm always trying to do the best I can. I'm not focused on cycling, but I still give it everything I've got. It's fun, it's a good group of guys and it's just a good way to kill myself.
NR: You were giving it all at the time trial. I heard you let out a scream as you crossed the line.
CL: I was hurting so bad. I was sitting out in the wind thinking, ‘Oh man, this better be worth it.
NR: Talk about the difference between racing on the road and racing triathlon. Road racing has repeated surges, while triathlon is more a steady-state effort. What do you feel like after a day of hard road racing versus after an Ironman?
CL: Yeah, it's a different animal. In road racing it's more painful in ways because you just dig really deep and your legs really hurt and you feel like you're going to pass out. That pain is short but extremely painful. Whereas in Ironman you find a pain that you can withstand for a long period of time and you just sit there. I'm good at just going steady for a long way, which is why I do some stupid stuff, like everyday I've been trying to go in a break, or bridge across, just trying do something. For me, it's easier to sit in at a hard tempo and go versus sitting in and going easy and waiting for somebody to jump. On stage 5, it was the jumps that broke me, it wasn't the pace. That's why I tried to bridge across. As soon as we hit the hill, those little jumps, I'd get gapped by three seconds and I couldn't bring it back, or I'd slowly bring it back after a half mile. It's just the pain of changing the pace, popping up to 600 watts or higher every so often and then dropping back down. I'm used to just holding it in around 300 watts.
NR: Is there any detriment to your triathlon racing that comes from those repeated surges?
CL: I don't know. We'll find out. It's worked to improve my cycling. The way I'm looking at it is I'm hoping it will increase my threshold and bring all my levels up. My tempo will move up. Like the stage 3 circuit race - at home I can't do five by 30-minute climbs at 350-400 watts. You can't do that by yourself at home. I'm hoping those efforts will improve my pace. We'll see.
NR: After a weeklong stage race, do you counterbalance your training and just focus on the swim and run for a while?
CL: Yeah, I'll take a little break from the riding. I'll take a little break from the run as well, just an overall break after an effort like this. This was a hard week. I'll swim a lot, but I'll really just float around more or less. I'll do a little riding too, but a lot of easy stuff for a couple of weeks.
NR: What's your next big race? You had to schedule this race in terms of what comes next, right?
CL: My main focus this year is Ironman Hawaii. I'm going to a half Ironman in a few weeks; I am not sure which one yet. I've got a couple of options, depending on how I come off this race and how my running is coming. I was planning on doing Ironman Japan, but I had to switch a few things around. Earlier in the year I hurt my hip, just overuse, so I had to lay off my running for a little bit. So I just postponed that, and I wanted a test, to see how a week like this would do for a lead-up to an Ironman. Instead I'll just do a half Ironman in a few weeks and see how that plays out and how I'll approach Hawaii this year.
NR: We all know the roadies tend to give the tri guys a bit of a hard time out on the road. How have you been received in the pro/1/2 peloton?
CL: Every year it's a little better, which is nice. The guys are pretty cool, and I try not to just sit in, I try to be active. I hope I am aware of what's going on around me, and that I'm not doing stupid things. I think they notice that, and that I'm not going to cause issues or get dropped, and make someone lose a spot. This whole week has been really good, the guys have allowed me to be up towards the front, and they're not fighting me much for wheels. So now I know more guys, and I'm getting more respect. Everyone has been really cool; I haven't caught any flak from anyone.
NR: Do you race with California Giant Strawberries locally as well, or just stage races?
CL: I've done some one-day races as well; it just depends on how it fits into my schedule. This year this is the only one I'm doing. I'm thinking about doing the Tour of Missouri as well, if it happens.
NR: While you're racing, are you thinking about stage races, or overall, or do you have any results objectives?
CL: I'm just going as hard as I can, trying to do what I can do. It hurts me sometimes, because then I'm like, ‘Well, if I didn't do that yesterday, or if I didn't try something earlier today and had conserved energy, maybe I would have done better.' But I just go out every day and do the best I can and try to have some fun.
NR: So stage racing is a very different beast than the Ironman triathlon?
CL: So much of it, you get home at night, and you think about all the tactics involved. I got dropped on stage 5 to eighth overall by three seconds from sixth overall. I'm thinking, ‘Three seconds!' That was like the guy just sitting right there. If I had just done one little thing differently tactically, I could have moved up. Part of it is luck, part is strategy, part is experience, there's so much to play into it, the games that you play, versus in triathlon you go your pace, and you're strong, and the strongman usually does better. In cycling it's different, there's so much more to it, which makes it exciting.
NR: I would imagine racing in the pro/1/2 field day after day improves your bike-handling skills.
CL: Yeah, I'm not as scared anymore as far as riding, I feel really secure on my bike.
NR: So is Hawaii the only Ironman you'll do this year?
CL: This year, yep.
NR: So you're pinning a lot on that one race.
CL: For the most part, yeah, we'll see how it goes. Last year I was ninth, top American, so I'm slowly moving up.
NR: And what about the ITU races?
CL: I did one this year, and I actually won. It was a small race down in Honduras. It was my first time doing one, and I won.
NR: Will you be doing more ITU races this year?
CL: Yeah, I'd like to. I may do more later this year.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Predictably, on the eve of the Tour de France, I will be the subject of a repeated, baseless attack in yet another unobjective book by David Walsh. Trying to jump on the bandwagon of current publicity surrounding cycling, Walsh now issues a recycled version of two earlier French books that were likewise founded upon a demonstrably false string of sensational, untrue and fabricated allegations.
This latest attack will be no different than the first two - a sensationalized attempt to cash in on my name and sully my reputation by people who have demonstrated a consistent failure to adhere to the most basic journalistic standards or ethics. We proved in Court that Walsh and his sources have no credibility. Walsh bolstered his first two book’s accusations by knowingly using false, backdated and manufactured diary entries and documents. He violated fundamental principles by paying his sources for “information”; he then compounded his unethical conduct by lying and denying those payments until confronted with irrefutable proof to the contrary.
The allegations and sources in the latest book remain just as baseless, unreliable and manufactured as they were in the first two books. Continuing a pattern of distortion and fabrication started in the other books, the new book takes recycled allegations from the first books and cherry-picked allegations and testimony from the losing side of a court case I won and attempts to portray them as facts. I responded in court to these allegations, most of which are made by a handful of grudge holders, axe grinders, and a so-called “expert” whose graduate degree turned out to be by way of correspondence courses -- and I proved them false. I was awarded 7.5 Million dollars in actual and punitive damages by a professional panel of legal experts who received all the evidence and heard from all the “eyewitnesses”. Every allegation and witness was confronted thoroughly, lawfully and fairly. I was vindicated yet again.
I raced clean. I won clean. I am the most tested athlete in the history of sports. I have defended myself and my reputation and won every court case to prove I was clean. Yet another Walsh book with baseless, sensational and rejected allegations will not overcome the truth.
Like most fair minded people, I am sick and tired of those who try to profit off the tactics of smear and guilt by innuendo or association.
Well I am back in Germany and ready for the Ironman event this weekend. The flight across from the USA this time around was tough. I flew across to London and then was delayed for 4 hours before finally getting to Germany about 7 hours after I was supposed to. I spent most of yesterday sleeping and waiting for my bike to arrive. This also got lost in transit so it finally got here late last night.
Anyway I must admit it is lovely to be back here. I really enjoy this region of Germany especially at this time of year. This event is incredible and the build up is such a buzz. I have been given a V8 Volvo SUV to drive around in over the next 10 days and have to say it is one of the most beautiful cars I have ever driven in my life. It is a beast and has about 320 horse power. I have given it a run along a few of the autobahns’ here and it goes like a rocket.
I was really tired last week after doing the Baja Half Ironman 70.3 race in Mexico. I think doing back to back Half Ironman races left me flat so I had a very light week of work in San Diego before jumping on the plane and coming across here to Germany. I had a 1 hour run this morning and felt great so things are coming together nicely.
The race itself will be tough. All the talk is about a World Record but this is always hard over a race of this distance. The wind can come up on the bike and this throws any fast times out the window. First and foremost I would like to defend my title and that is what I will be focused on. I have come into this years race a little lighter than the last two years and on much less endurance work. The back end of this Ironman might get uncomfortable but hopefully my speed on the run will be solid enough to keep the pace high early on the run. I would like to push the first half of the marathon hard and then try and settle in and see how it feels for the last 6 miles of the run. This will give me an idea of the work I need to do going into Kona. My focus is to learn as much about the back end of the marathon after a hard start and carry this information into my 3 month training block for Hawaii. I have always been a little apprehensive in my first 10 miles of any marathon so trying out new things in races allows you to learn so much more. It will be a tough day but I really enjoy the atmosphere of this race, that if you are going to suffer then why not do it with thousands of people cheering you on. That is the positive way of looking at it.
After Roth I will have 1 week’s holiday in Europe before heading back to California to meet with my family. I am so excited to see them. This has been the longest we have ever been apart and it will be exactly 9 weeks since I have seen my wife and my girls. I miss them so much. We are going to Disneyland which will be a real buzz and then we will stay in Santa Barbara for a few days to relax and surf. We will then fly out to Boulder for the summer and begin my training for Hawaii at altitude again. I must admit I really think the altitude training has been great and is a big plus going into Kona. The training in boulder is enjoyable and it will be easy to log up some big miles through July, August and September. Anyway I better go swimming. I will write again before the race on Sunday.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Ivan Basso promises to return "strong than ever" to competition following his two-year racing ban for his connection to the Operación Puerto doping scandal.
"I've promised my family that I will return to win the Giro d'Italia," Basso told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "A lot of people have contacted me to show their support. I already have three teams who want me."
Basso will be able to return to competition on October 24, 2008, in a decision handed down last week by Italian authorities. Basso admitted that he worked with alleged Puerto ringleader Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, although he denied actually engaging in doping practices.
"I made two errors, because I should have never going to see Fuentes and because I should have never lied about it. It's fair that I pay a high price, but I will return stronger than ever," Basso continued. "I felt trapped by the lies I was telling."
Basso was among nine riders from four teams who were kicked out ahead of last year's Tour for alleged links to the doping ring. Basso split from Team CSC last fall and was cleared by Italian authorities to resume racing.
He signed a high-profile - and controversial - contract to join Discovery Channel, but later admitted he worked with Fuentes with the "intention of doping" after Italian authorities re-opened the case.
"I've told them everything I know," Basso said. "I made five trips to Madrid and that corresponds to the five bags of blood they found."
Under current ProTour rules, he won't be able to return to one of the 20 teams in the ProTour league for an additional two years, but he says there's already interest from teams to have him back.
"I am sure I can still compete for another five or six years. And a long break can actually do me some good," Basso said. "To comeback and win, I will have to work even harder. That is my challenge."
CSC is at the Tour de Suisse with what is likely to be a large chunk of their Tour de France team. They have big guns such as Fränk Schleck, Carlos Sastre, race leader Fabian Cancellara and perennial attacker Jens Voigt. Cyclingnews asked the tall German if Schleck would be the team's GC rider for the Swiss race.
"That is top secret information. If I tell you, I need to shoot you!" he joked. "But obviously he looks pretty good, he looks smooth on the bike, he looks ready. So it wouldn't be surprising if he is in a good place in the general classification [at the end]."
He said that he is very happy with how things have gone so far, given that Cancellara won the prologue, finished third on stage two and carries the yellow jersey into day four of the race. Personally, he feels that he is a little way off his top fitness, but says he will use the Tour de Suisse to rectify that.
"I am still missing bits and pieces of form. I think I am ready to do some hard miles working on the front and suffering in the mountains here, in order to get ready for the Tour de France."
Some teams sent their best riders to the Dauphiné Libéré, while CSC and T-Mobile have their top riders in Switzerland. Cyclingnews asked Voigt if he felt one race was better than the other in order to hit Tour form.
"I don't think it makes a difference," he replied. "You had Lance Armstrong winning the Dauphiné and the Tour, then you also had Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. It doesn't really make a difference. It is whatever you like best.
"The Dauphiné is a bit different - it is shorter, you have the advantage of doing some stages of the Tour de France as you are covering some of the same mountains.
"Here, I wouldn't say it is more relaxed, that's the wrong word, but it is certainly but laid back. You have better roads, better hotels, better food. It is a little longer, but I would say it is less stressful."
Monday, June 18, 2007
Former ITU Secretary General and Anti-Doping Commissioner Mark Sisson Takes Aim at Medical Establishment
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Sunday, June 17, 2007
Rasmus Henning of Denmark received the best Father’s Day gift of his young parenting life today, winning the 2007 Des Moines BG Triathlon World Cup and taking home the biggest payday in triathlon history. Father of two, Henning’s time of 1 hour 50 minutes and 3 seconds was good enough to claim the US$200,000 first place prize cheque and US$65,000 prize pack that went with it. Olympic silver medalist Bevan Docherty of New Zealand crossed the line in second position, 30 seconds behind. Rounding out the top three was world number one ranked Javier Gomez of Spain, a further 12 seconds back.
The record-breaking prize purse was thanks to the generous work of presenting sponsor, American grocer Hy-Vee.
No one would be able to break away over the opening 1,500 metre swim with 41 men exiting the water within 30 seconds of each other. This large group contained all the top names and would stay together over the opening two laps of the 40-kilometre bike segment. It would be American Matt Reed to stir things up and take off the front, making a 30 seconds gap over the next two laps and getting some quality airtime on the American broadcaster NBC. The tall American would not get far however as a group of six, including Henning, managed to catch on to the former Kiwi and enter second transition a minute ahead of the chase group.
From here it was Henning and former Olympic gold medalist and recent Vancouver world cup winner Simon Whitfield of Canada to take to the front and begin to run away with the race. Henning would stay at the front as a faltering Whitfield was passed by first Docherty, Gomez, current world champion Tim Don of Great Britain and Greg Bennett of Australia in the closing metres.
Don and Bennett would finish in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
2007 Des Moines BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Men results
1. HENNING, Rasmus (DEN) 1:50:03
2. DOCHERTY, Bevan (NZL) 1:50:33 +:30
3. GOMEZ, Javier (ESP) 1:50:46 +:42
4. DON, Tim (GBR) 1:50:57 +:54
5. BENNETT, Greg (AUS) 1:51:02 +:58
6. WHITFIELD, Simon (CAN) 1:51:08 +1:05
7. SAPUNOV, Daniil (KAZ) 1:51:24 +1:21
8. SHOEMAKER, Jarrod (USA) 1:51:42 +1:39
9. GLUSHCHENKO, Andriy (UKR) 1:51:44 +1:41
10. RANA, Ivan (ESP) 1:51:50 +1:47
Local favourite Laura Bennett of the United States has just won the 2007 Des Moines BG Triathlon World Cup, taking home a record US$200,000 in prize money and another US$60,000 plus in prizes, including a new car. Bennett finished with a time of 2 hours 4 minutes and 32 seconds. Former world cup champion Annabel Luxford of Australia managed to hold on to second place 14 seconds back. Mariana Ohata of Brazil finished third a further 43 seconds back, climbing back from a two minute deficit after the bike.
The record-breaking prize purse was thanks to the dedicated work of presenting sponsor, American grocer Hy-Vee.
A 1:30pm start time met the 42 Elite women with 34 degree Celsius temperatures and 54% humidity under clear skies. By the end of the day’s racing only 26 women would cross the finish line, many succumbing to the hot and treacherous conditions.
Bennett would join a small break-away early on the bike, gaining a 2 minute and 46 second lead by the end of the 42-kilometre, challenging bike course. This lead group of eight women contained many of the top cyclists in the sport such as; Bennett, Luxford, Jessica Harrison of France, Kirsten Sweetland of Canada and another four Americans, Sarah Haskins, Sara McLarty, Julie Swail and Joanna Zeiger.
This group worked flawlessly over the 6-lap, hilly and windy bike course building an insurmountable lead over many of the sports top contenders including; the Aussie contingent of current world champion Emma Snowsill of Australia, world number two ranked Erin Densham and world bronze medalist Felicity Abram; the strong Kiwi duo of Debbie Tanner and Samantha Warriner; as well as the Great Britain team of Michelle Dillon and Andrea Whitcombe.
Early into the 10-kilometre run, many race favourites began to drop like flies. First was Joelle Franzmann of Germany, next would be Densham, then Snowsill, Di Marco Messmer, Zeiger and Lauren Groves of Canada. Current world Junior champion, Sweetland would run with Bennett and Luxford for the first nine kilometres before running out of gas, collapsing to the ground with only one kilometre to go. This would enable a fast approaching Ohata to run her way from the chase group and onto the podium. Ohata’s run split was the fastest on the day by almost 2 minutes.
Rounding out the top five was Sarah Haskins of the United States and Andrea Whitcombe of Great Britain.
2007 Des Moines BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Women results
1. BENNETT, Laura (USA) 2:04:32
2. LUXFORD, Annabel (AUS) 2:04:46 +:14
3. OHATA, Mariana (BRA) 2:05:29 +:57
4. HASKINS, Sarah (USA) 2:05:47 +1:15
5. WHITCOMBE, Andrea (GBR)2:05:51 +1:19
6. HARRISON, Jessica (FRA) 2:05:55 +1:23
7. NIWATA, Kiyomi (JPN) 2:06:13 +1:41
8. MOFFATT, Emma (AUS) 2:06:26 +1:54
9. TANNER, Debbie (NZL) 2:06:48 +2:16
10. DILLON, Michelle (GBR) 2:07:22 +2:50
Friday, June 15, 2007
Ivan Basso has been given a suspension of 24 months by the Italian cycling federation (FCI) disciplinary commission for his involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, and will be able to resume racing October 24, 2008. The 29 year-old Italian cyclist confessed on May 7 that he had extracted the blood that was found in bags labelled 'Birillo' in Madrid, after increasing pressure from Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri and mounting evidence against him.
"Basso has to take responsibility for the violation of WADA's anti-doping code 2.2 [use or attempted use of prohibited methods]," said the president of the FCI Disciplinary Commission, Vincenzo Ioffredi, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We did not take into account his collaboration because there was no help substantial made."
The disciplinary commission subtracted 236 days for the sum of the days Basso has already spent under suspension.
Basso joined Team CSC for the 2004 season, and in its colours he achieved second in the 2005 Tour de France and won the 2006 Giro d'Italia, but the two parties parted ways after Basso was linked to Operación Puerto prior to the 2006 Tour. He joined Discovery Channel in November but, after participating in such races as the Tour of California and Tirreno-Adriatico, he was forced to quit just prior to admitting his involvement with Fuentes. His last race was the Castilla y Leon, March 30.
"Since I confessed my errors I have started to feel better with myself and towards my family. It is true that I deceived for one year because I was afraid of being uncovered, but it is human to make mistakes," said Basso after leaving the meeting, which started at 12:30. The cyclist, represented by lawyer Massimo Martelli, was heard by the FCI Disciplinary Commission, presided by Vincenzo Ioffredi.
"Now I will pay the consequences of my errors, but I want to underline that I have said all that I know, and for an athlete at my level that is not easy. I have lost everything - the races, the contracts - but it is justified because I misled and now I will accept the penalty for my errors." By the end of his suspension, Basso will have missed two editions of the Giro (2007 and 2008) and three of the Tour de France (2006, 2007 and 2008).
Last night, the UCI had sent a letter to the FCI President Renato Di Rocco to state is insistence on a full sentence. "There are not the elements to give Basso a reduction," it stated. It continued, according to AGR, that it is not possible "to reduce the sanction of two years" based upon "article 233 RAD, which obliges a suspension of two years." The letter went to state that if a discount was given by the FCI then the UCI would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
"There needs to be a reduction for Basso's collaboration," argued Martelli earlier Friday afternoon. "Ivan has furnished the prosecutor with new information that permitted him to open up other investigations." He officially asked for a seven month and 24 day reduction, taking into account the days spent after leaving CSC (June 29 to December 31) and Discovery (April 24 to May 14), plus the ones imposed by the FCI (May 15 to Friday, June 15).
Torri, who was present during the hearing, did not agree that Basso helped as much as he could have. "He could have done more," said CONI's prosecutor.
"I accept this decision and I think only of training and staying well," Basso concluded on hearing the sentence.
Team CSC delivered a great effort in Thursday's fourth stage of Dauphiné Libéré. The race finished on the top of the infamous Mont Ventoux after a 197- kilometre route. CSC had David Zabriskie, Chris Anker Sørensen and Volodimir Gustov in the main group for a long time and the trio finished in the top 20. This gave them the lead in the overall team classification.
Zabriskie got 11th on the stage, two minutes behind Moreau. This good performance put him in fifth place overall, only 26 seconds behind Andrey Kashechkin. The American stayed with the main group most of the way and he even responded to an attack of Botcharov before settling with the others in the final part of the climb.
"We managed to create an ideal setup for ourselves, because Dave, Chris and Volodymir turned out to have great legs today. It was a tremendous effort by all three and it opens up some exciting possibilities. In tomorrow's stage we might see a break lasting all the way home, so we'll have to keep our guys together ahead of the two final stages," said Alain Gallopin via team-csc.com.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The last month has been really hectic. I spent a good month training in Boulder Colorado and really enjoyed the altitude training. It is definitely a big plus for my long course racing and my last 3 races have been solid off the back of the workloads I have done in Colorado. I am now in San Diego for the next few days and will fly to Germany for the Quelle Challenge Roth on Friday June 15. I am really looking forward to the Ironman race. I have definitely done a different approach for the event with less mileage and more focus on speed work and sustained running speed. I have done more of a half Ironman preparation for this race and hope that this will give me the speed to get close to the World Record in 12 days time. It will be a big effort but I will have a go at it and see what happens. I might end up in a bad way late in the run, but I am interested to see how that feels. The time is just so quick that anything could happen out their.
Since my last post lots has happened. My family has sold up everything in Australia and we are making the move to the USA. I cannot wait until they arrive here in USA on July 1st. We are looking at where we will be living but it looks very likely it will be either Santa Barbara or Boulder. This will obviously depend on my family and where the best schools and stuff are for them. The weather is also something that concerns me, but ultimately I will leave the decision up to Emma Jane and we will move into our place after Ironman Hawaii. We are looking at Condos now in Boulder for the summer and Emma will spend 2 weeks in Santa Barbara when I race in Malibu hanging out and looking at the area. She has not spent much time in this area so getting to know the place and being shown around by a few local friends of mine will give her a better feel for the area. We will however spend the training block for Hawaii in Boulder Colorado and make our mind up after Hawaii as to our permanent base. It has all been very quick but we spend so much time apart that this was the best move for us. I will still be racing for Australia despite what some people have wrongly assumed, I will just be working from the USA. I really enjoy the USA and the people here and it will be a very easy transition to relocate my family here. We have spent so much of the last 8 years here it is like our home away from home anyway. We will be applying for our green cards and going through the process, but my passport will still be an Australian one.
It is old news now but lots of speculation in the build up, but we have signed off on our Specialized contract about 1 month ago. After 6 years working with Kestrel, a unique opportunity came along to work within the realms of Specialized and its long arm of experts, athletes and Teams that we had to look at this opportunity. I sat down with my existing sponsorship base and we looked at this and many of them supported me in this opportunity and for this I am truly grateful. I want to thank many of these companies for their support and friendship over the past 6 years and even more so thank you all for allowing me to move in this direction. Specialized bikes are amazing and the new Transition bike is incredible. It looks amazing and rides very smooth and fast. Many people will see it in this years Tour De France and it is a sweet looking bike. This opportunity was the sole reason we had to make the move to the USA. My entire sponsorship base is out of the USA and the opportunities here are just bigger for athletes in our sport. The sport in this country is just booming and triathlon is growing exponentially. It is really exciting times for the sport here and to ride the wave of the sports growth here is a huge opportunity for athletes.
Anyway that’s about it for now. The Hawaii build up will begin after Roth and this year we are looking at working alongside a charity to raise money and awareness for something that I feel very strongly about. We are just in the process of putting together the finer details of our plans but the aim will be to raise as much money and awareness about this disease and do something really positive outside my competitive desires for a cause that has effected myself and my family and means a lot to me. I am really looking forward to it and I am sure the race itself will be a blast as well. My training is on target and my run has really come along well.
Anyway I better go. I will write again when I arrive in Germany on Saturday.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The last couple weeks has been a great cycling block of training. In that I have done 2 one day road races and a week long stage race. The first event was the Mount Hamilton Road Race held on Sunday May 27th. It was a great opener to the week ahead. The race started in San Jose and climbed 4,500 feet in 20 miles to the top. Heading up the mountain the pace was fast dropping some riders off the back. Once we got close to the top there were some hard attacks as some people wanted to go for the KOM. Over the top there were about 5 of us that went over together. On the descent down the back side a small group caught back up and the pace was picked up again. As we made it through the halfway point there was a couple more climbs and some more attacks came. Again, about 5 of us made it off the front. @ guys broke away by them selves and I found myself trying to bridge across to the by myself for the next 45 minutes. With no luck I waited for the chase group, and I decided to sit in and save some energy for the week long stage race I was heading up to the next day. I ended up finishing 8th and was happy with that.
The next day I was off to Oregon for the week long Stage Race in Mt. Hood. 6 days of riding was ahead with over 400 miles of riding and climbing over 31,000 ft. To make it even a better week Hood River was having a heat wave of over 90 degrees everyday we were there. I ended up racing well through out the week. Learning a lot about road racing and pushing myself as much as I could. It seemed like everyday I was inpatient and trying to get in a breakaway and attacking where ever I could. I learned that racing a stage race is more about conserving you energy as much as possible and waiting till the end everyday. Well, you all know my style is trying to get to the front and working hard, so it seemed that was on the training calendar for me everyday. I ended the week with a 7th place finish in the overall GC and finished 5th on Stage 4, which was a Time Trial of almost 20 miles. Al in all it was a great week with some serious efforts and tempo that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. I also ended up doing about 3 transition runs during the week which added some great fitness for me.
After getting home needless to say I was a bit tired. I ended up getting some great naps in during the days following. I got back in the pool swimming, which I was unable to while up in Oregon. My swimming came back quick and actually my tempo swimming as improved. I think from all that threshold work racing it transfered over to the swim. I did a couple easy to moderate days of riding the following week and then I decided to do Pescadero Road race.
Pescadero is near the coast next to Half Moon Bay. The race is 103 miles and has about 12 good climbs. I was not sure how I was going to perform coming off the week of racing in Oregon, but my coach Lance Watson, wanted to keep my fitness and threshold going well. The race started fast as we hit the first climb of the day. It took only through the first 2 climbs for a break to get away, which had one of my team mates in it. So we let them roll off and it was up for the other riders to bring it back. It took about the next 40 miles to get close to them. As always I was keen to jump on anyone that was attacking or trying to bridge across to the break. I got in a small group that was working well to catch the break. As we went up one of the long climbs I attacked and went solo to get across. Once I got the break I kept going with one other. It didn’t last long and on the descent a large group caught us. The pace kept going hard until we hit a long climb with about 30 miles to go. I attacked again and was off the front by myself. As we got close to the top another rider, Barry Wicks, Jumped and bridged across to me. We had maybe 20 or 30 seconds on the group going over the top. I encouraged him to work hard with me on the descent and I had a feeling that we could stay away if we could make it to the bottom of the climb with a gap. We did and we ended up riding together for the last 25 miles. Coming up to the finishing climb about 5 miles to go I got a rear flat. What a huge bummer. I had no choice but just sit on Barry and hang on to the finish. I was able to hang with him to the finish and he ended up taking the win, and I ended up finishing 2nd.
Another great day of training for me. the day ended up being about 120 miles of riding and I finished it off with a transition run. I felt great and I am very excited for the rest of the season. I am looking forward to racing a couple Olympic distance races and a couple Ironman 70.3 races in the next couple of months in preparation for Ironman Hawaii. Things are going well and now it is all about timing and keep building my fitness for the next couple months going into the World Championships.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Abnormal for the typically hot and clear weather of Baja California Mexico, the race kicked off in cool dark skies with Australia’s Craig Walton taking a quick and immediate lead as usual in the swim in the bay of Ensenada.
The athletes and the weather warmed up quickly as both the sun and Aussie Chris McCormack applied the heat. Always the favorite when he toes the line, Macca was fresh off his victory at the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii just last weekend in Honu Hawaii only 8 days ago.
“This was the first time in my career I have ever done back-to-back Half Ironman’s and it was a good test for me”, stated McCormack. “I felt pretty flat in both the swim and bike but felt really good on the run. It’s always a challenge to catch someone as great as Craig Walton and I’m happy with the win.”
With a blazing Half Marathon run time of just 1:12, Macca was able to pass the always front running Walton about two thirds of the way into the run. Macca was able to “shut it down” and just cruise in for the victory from there.
McCormack will be attempting to win his 4th straight title in Germany at the Roth ironman distance race in just two weeks time.
Top 5 Men ~ Ironman Baja 70.3:
1st - Chris McCormack
2nd - Craig Walton
3rd - Luke Mckenzie
4th - Paul Ambrose
5th - Oscar Galindez
The Accenture Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is my favorite event of the year. I started racing triathlons in 2005 as a 45+ age grouper and this year was my third Escape. I’m an Accenture alumni having worked for them for 22 years so this is the event where I want to have my peak performance. To get ready for the race, I started in January training 5 to 10 hours per week and raced a Sprint triathlon in February, and another in April and then an Olympic distance (Wildflower) at the beginning of May. With four weeks to go I hired my friend and coach Tom Hodge, president of Recovox (a supplement I take to reduce stress and improve recovery time), to work with me to help me have a great race.
Tom threw out my training plan (too much air conditioned gym time, not enough long distance training) and started me on interval and brick training workouts. These were hard with longer recovery times than I was used to, but I was getting noticeably faster. Tom also set my time goal for the race. He reviewed my results from 2005 (3:24:36) and 2006 (3:15:57) and told me I should be shooting for a sub-3 hour finish.
Race day was June 3, 2007 with a start time of 7am. I felt ready and calm as I set up my transition. At 5am we proceeded to the buses that would take nearly 2,000 of us to the boat that would become our launching pad next to Alcatraz Island. The outside temperature was in the low 50’s and the water in the bay was in the mid 50’s so my race strategy would require some plan for retaining warmth during the race.
Before the official start of the race I looked at the water between the boat and the shore and noticed that about halfway out there were whitecaps. This meant that for some portion of the swim we would lose our rhythm and be diving through breakers. This will beat up even the strongest of swimmers of which I am not one, but I smiled at the fact that I could visualize the intensity of the swim before jumping in. A challenging forty minutes later I was on shore and glad to be out of the water. I transitioned out of my wetsuit, jumped into some running shoes, threw on a warm-up jacket and began running hard toward the bike transition.
The Bike Out area was backed up when I arrived and I was eager to start riding. Tom had coached me to control my intensity on the first third of the bike. Once I was on the bike course I had time to regroup and think through nutritional needs. I let my stomach settle from the swim and then as I exited the Presidio I slowly consumed two gels and hydrated. Then I pushed hard throughout the remainder of the bike, focusing on hill management and riding form. As I approached the Bike In, I consumed another gel and then quickly transitioned to the run. Legs felt good and with the crowd cheering for everyone my energy level was high.
Something interesting happened about a mile into the eight mile run. I realized that I had not seen the professionals. In years past, the leaders were done before I started my run. This year was different. Then they came into sight. Andy Potts ran by me with a look of determination. Good for him. I still had the beach and the sand ladder to conquer!
At this point I settled into a strong pace and managed my breathing. The miles flew by and now I was looking up at the notorious sand ladder. To conserve energy I slowed to a determined stair climb. Three minutes later I was at the top and gathered up my pace for the three miles to the finish line. Fatigue was setting in, but I had to keep the pace and focus on a strong finish. As I ran through the finish line I realized that I had achieved the sub-3 hour goal with a time of 2:59:54 (6 seconds to spare…whew!) which filled me with a deep sense of accomplishment. I later found out that Andy Potts finished the race in sub-2 hours with a time of 1:59:34. Even though he is a third faster than me I still feel great about my results. As my coach says, “it’s all about racing against yourself”.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Canada’s triathlon golden boy Simon Whitfield has just elated the hometown crowds by winning the 2007 Vancouver BG Triathlon World Cup in a time of 1 hour 49 minutes and 16 seconds. Only 2 seconds behind was American powerhouse Andy Potts in seconds place with his team-mate Matt Reed in third another 53 seconds back.
Wetsuits would be worn in a chilly 1,500 metre swim in the 16 degree Celsius waters of English Bay. Seven men would exit the water together including all three eventual medalists, Paul Tichelaar and Colin Jenkins of Canada, Alexander Brukhankov of Russia and Brian Fleischmann of the United States.
Many athletes agree that seven is the magic number on the bike, being the perfect size to work well together, spreading the load without becoming cumbersome. This was apparent today as this group managed to increase their lead over the 40 kilometre course to over two minutes.
Immediately on the run, the former Olympic and Commonwealth champion, Whitfield, would blast away from the rest of the group to the fastest run of the day, followed only by Potts. With only 400metres to go, Whitfield would pull out his famous sixth gear to accelerate away from the American to win his eighth career world cup gold. With eight world cup gold medals in his cabinet, Whitfield has the most wins of any active world cup man on the circuit.
In fourth and fifth position was Brukhankov and fellow Canadian Tichelaar, respectively.
2007 Vancouver BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Men results
1. WHITFIELD, Simon (CAN) 1:49:16
2. POTTS, Andy (USA) 1:49:18 +:02
3. REED, Matt (USA) 1:50:11 +:55
4. BRUKHANKOV, Alexander (RUS) 1:50:35 +1:20
5. TICHELAAR, Paul (CAN) 1:51:29 +2:14
6. FLEISCHMANN, Brian (USA) 1:51:40 +2:25
7. JENKINS, Colin (CAN) 1:52:08 +2:52
8. THOMPSON, Simon (AUS) 1:53:15 +3:59
9. SEXTON, Brendan (AUS) 1:53:28 +4:13
10. GLUSHCHENKO, Andriy (UKR) 1:53:44 +4:29
Samantha Warriner of New Zealand has just won the 2007 Vancouver BG Triathlon World Cup in the official test event for the 2008 triathlon world championships, with one of the fastest women’s 10-kilometre run splits the sport has seen. Warriner would run her way back from an untypical slow swim and eventual 90 second deficit off the bike with a blistering 33:16 10km split. Sarah Haskins of the United States would finish in second place 36 seconds back for the first world cup podium of her young career. Rounding out the medals would be current Under23 world champion Erin Densham of Australia, only 10 seconds back.
Trying conditions would greet the 40 athletes with wind and heavy rain making the already difficult course gruelling at times with a number of athletes withdrawing, succumbing to the slippery and cold conditions.
After the opening 1,500 metre swim it was the American duo of Sarah Haskins and Sara McLarty to emerge first and head out on the 8-lap 40-kilometre bike course. The two worked well together early into the bike to open a 30 second gap on the chase group of 16.
The two young women would continue to put time into the chase group of top contenders including; Warriner, Densham, Joelle Franzmann of Germany, Lauren Groves of Canada and Elizabeth May of Luxembourg. At the end of the 8-lap bike, Haskins and McLarty would be 97 seconds ahead of the Warriner and the others.
Out on the run, the determined Warriner loped off 30 seconds of Haskin’s lead over the first of three laps. It would be a steady process from there as Warriner would first reel in McLarty and then set her sights on Haskins and her fourth world cup victory of her career. The slowing Haskins would hang on to second place, however, with a quickly approaching Densham nipping at her heels.
2007 Vancouver BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Women results
1. WARRINER, Samantha (NZL) 2:03:25
2. HASKINS, Sarah (USA) 2:04:01 +:37
3. DENSHAM, Erin (AUS) 2:04:11 +:46
4. FRANZMANN, Joelle (GER) 2:04:36 +1:11
5. MAY, Elizabeth (LUX) 2:04:52 +1:27
6. IDE, Juri (JPN) 2:04:58 +1:33
7. NIWATA, Kiyomi (JPN) 2:04:59 +1:34
8. GROVES, Lauren (CAN) 2:05:14 +1:49
9. MCLARTY, Sara (USA) 2:05:56 +2:31
10. GROFF, Sarah (USA) 2:06:05 +2:40
After a strong beginning of the 2007 season, Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador has been busy training in the mountains to prepare for the Tour de France prior to arriving at the Dauphiné Libéré.
"I am here to reach my peak form for the Tour," said the Spanish climber to Cyclingnews. "Surely I will prove myself in some stages, but this race is too demanding," he added, referring to the Dauphiné.
"I know that there is a prologue time trial and two others of about 40 kilometres, and a hard stage finishing on the Mont Ventoux. I think that I can do very well at the long time trial stage and in the high mountains," Contador predicted. "The main contenders will be those who are going to contest the Tour, but, at the same time, they will save a little. Perhaps, the winner will be a very strong rider, but not a team leader for the Tour? Someone for whom Dauphiné is a great opportunity," speculated this year's Paris-Nice winner.
After training on some of the mountain stage routes for the Tour of France, Contador said, "My first conclusion is that the Pyrenees will be much harder that the Alps. The Tignes stage  will be very hard, because it has very long climbs. It seems like it will be a key-stage. Another dangerous stage finishes in Briançon, with the Galibier climb en route, but I do not believe it will be as key as the Tignes stage."
"In the Pyrenees there is a pair of stages with tough finishes, especially the one in Plateau de Beille climb [stage 14], which comes right after the Albi time trial [stage 13]. The one with the Peyresourde and the Aubisque climbs [stage 16] will also be tough, not forgetting the Marie Blanque climb at the end of it," finished Contador.
What a day! Perfect conditions have created the perfect day for new race records. Natascha Baddman has just crossed the finish line in a time of 4:08:18. This breaks the old course record of 4:12.... amazing! Natascha is 40 years old and stronger than ever. Today's victory is number 5 at the Eagleman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon! Congratulations Natascha!
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Only two weeks after his doping arbitration hearing at Pepperdine University in California, Floyd Landis returned to competition. Although he awaits a verdict in his hearing and on whether he gets to keep his 2006 Tour de France title, Landis was able to compete at the Teva Mountain Games in Colorado because it was not a UCI sanctioned event.
Landis' first event was the mountain bike race on Saturday, in which he participated to raise money for charity. Despite being an accomplished mountain biker before his road career, Landis finished 49th. He was caught and passed by women's winner Shonny Vanlandingham. According to the Associated Press, Landis said the race wasn't about results, but was about getting away from the stress of fighting doping allegations and remember how fun racing can be.
"I haven't suffered in a while," he said according to the Associated Press afterward. It was his first mountain bike race finish in nearly nine years. "I figured this was a good place to start," said Landis, who is preparing to contest the Leadville 100 later this season on August 11.
"There were quite a few weeks when I rode a reasonable amount, 200-300 miles a week," he said to the Denver Post. "Then that hearing. It was almost 10 days. I didn't ride at all. You're sitting there. The next thing you know, you're eating doughnuts and you don't even care. It was awful." He said his new, surgically repaired hip was performing at 100%.
Local Jay Henry won the race ahead of Ross Schnell and another Vail local Jimmy Mortenson. Mountain bike legend Ned Overend, at 52 years-old, showed the younger guys who's boss and won the hill climb event held at nearly 10,000 feet altitude.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
On Sunday Tereza experienced the race of her life in the German town of Offenburg, which hosted the second race of this years World Cup. Tereza’s 6th place was far beyond better than what Tereza and her fans hoped for!
Tereza’s biggest fear was before the start of the race, because the weather in the southwest of Germany was hot and humid all week until Saturday evening. She also felt big respect for the race track, which was very nice, but technically difficult. “On Sunday morning before the race I had to go and train on one part of the track which made me nervous, because I only trained on the left trail and didn’t really know what the right trail looked like. In the race, once the heavy rain started, it was possible to ride only the right trail, so it was a good decision to train in the morning.”
Right after the start Tereza was riding around 20th place, however very soon she started taking on one racer after another and managed to move up quite quickly to 12th position. In the middle of the race the cloudy sky gave in and the rain started pouring down which dramatically changed the running of the race. Those who think ahead are prepared, so Tereza didn’t have any problems with the muddy and slippery track. Thanks to the weather forecast she decided together with her mechanic and coach to change her tires do Rubena Charybdis, which are suited into muddy and rainy weather, and proved to be a good decision in the second half of the race. “I was really nervous, I knew that in training I didn’t really ride some passages too well, I was afraid it would be just too difficult in the mud. But it wasn’t! I didn’t fall once and actually felt and rode better than in training. It was a good decision to change the tires before the race, some girls had big problems on the track,” said Tereza.
Tereza knows how to ride in the rain, she already proved it last year during the World Cup race in Spa, Belgium, where she finished in similar weather conditions in 17th place, which was her best in 2006. “As soon as it started to rain I knew the race was going to be mine. I immediately started to move up front,” described Tereza the situation when the weather changed. Tereza kept moving forward towards the finish, at one point she was even in fifth place, however the German rider Spitz caught up with her once she fixed her defect. Tereza even managed to ride off from one of her biggest rivals in the U23 category, the Chinese Ren Chengyuan, and came to the finish in a fabulous 6th place! She was so happy and moved that she just had to let the tears roll down her face. “I never believed that the dream I have for so long would come so soon in my career. When I was passing all those cross-country stars I had big problems keeping my concentration, I was so excited and nervous that I would do some kind of a mistake and ruin it all,” she explained her feelings during the race in the finish.
Tereza improved her overall standings by 5 positions, in the third World Cup race, which will be in Champéry, Switzerland, she will be starting from the first line with number plate 7!
Pro Triathlete Katya Meyers was part of the Recovox relay team this past weekend at the 2007 Accenture Alcatraz Triathlon.