Leonie and I cruised to Salzburg on Friday night and camped by a lake somewhere there.
On Saturday we went for a lazy wander up erm… something or other… around midday. The area around Salzburg looks really quite good for all sorts of tramping, climbing, via ferrata missions.
Above: We went for a cruisy walk on Saturday.
The Eddy Merckx Classic was on Sunday. It’s 113 km with around 1400 m of climbing. The course is interesting as there aren’t any major climbs, it’s essentially rollers the whole way. Well essentially…
There’s also a long course and a short course.
The race organisers had been a little annoying and had split the field for the middle distance course into two groups, a Block A, and a Block B. This was annoying as it made it impossible to know where you were in the race unless you were in the first block. I was in Block B along with Markus and Max who we’d met at the Tour de Kärnten in 2013.
It was raced on transponder time, which it had to be due to the two start blocks. But this was also annoying as it meant I lost about five places in the results, due to people crossing the start line after me. Of course I can’t complain two much. This is the tactic I used to win the Grape Ride in 2009 (although the organisers decided to tamper with the results a few weeks after the race. Grrr…).
The race started… and nothing happened. Some time later our block got to start and I worked my way to the front with Markus, Max, and a few others. We rode in a bunch of maybe 10 people. A steep little climb followed by a fast descent. We passed stragglers from the first block as we rode. First ones and twos but then bigger bunches.
The pace was high. At least that’s what it felt like. Probably the Highlander was a bit long and slow to be good training for this race, and my back wheel died in the Arlberg Giro so there hasn’t been much in the way of intense training recently.
I hung on until the 60 km mark, at which point I took a turn at the front for a while with Max and Markus. I let Markus roll past as a hill approached. The bunch went forward. I didn’t. I ended up with a smaller bunch that hadn’t survived the hills a couple of bunches back. We rode at a much more relaxed pace to the finish line. Which was probably good as if I had survived the couple of short hills I would have fallen off on a bigger steeper hill later on.
There were about five of us with blue numbers in the bunch as we drew closer to the finish line. The rest had black numbers from the first start block. I positioned myself to try and outsprint the blue riders and got a good wheel and got across the line before them. Unfortunately due to the transponder time I finished after them in the results… Grr…
Still quite a fun race. If it weren’t for the annoying start setup… I would have preferred a setup like the Arlberg Giro, or the Engadin Radmarathon. There you choose which block to start in based on your expected finishing time. Sure there are people who are over ambitious, me included, but they usually just hang around for a bit and then get spat off the back. Then there’s the tricky question, how to time the race. Transponder time is definitely good if you’re not competitive. By the time you’ve rolled to the start line it can be 2 minutes after the gun went. But it’s a bit silly for the people right at the front. If you’re the first over the finish line you expect to win. So when do you swap from gun time to transponder time?
Anyway… a nice rolling course, and well organised even if the start setup wasn’t my thing.
Above left: I packed out my posy NZ cycle gear for the race. Above right: I rode with Max and Markus from Team Laura for the first 60 km before my legs fell apart.
Above left: I out sprinted the others in my start block across the finish line. Above right: Leonie supported me at the race. She secretly wants to get herself a cycling suit as stunning as those in this photo for next year.
Eddy Merckx Radmarathon: 113 km / 1396 m Time: 3:13:10.3 Avg: 35.1 km/h 64/393 Men Overall, 36/147 in class.