The Tour de Kärnten was really good fun this year so we decided to hang another race onto the end of our holiday.
First we took a break for a couple of days and did another klettersteig near Finkenstein and then visited our favorite castle in the area (castle Finkenstein) for a tasty lunch. Then it was off to Lake Bohinj in Slovenia for an evening and the following morning. I caught up with Sebas, Sam, and Johannes there for some climbing as they were having a Slovenia weekend. Then it was off to Radstadt for the race.
It was on Sunday and began at 7:30 am. The weather was perfect and the route was pretty nice. We had entered the short course to save our legs a bit. It’s 95 km with 1500 m of climbing and the long course is 137 km with 2200 m of climbing. Also quite doable but I was hoping to be a bit more competitive than usual and since I’ve only been training on shorter distances it seemed more sensible to do the shorter course.
It looked like it would be a very fast course with the steeper climbs near the beginning. It was.
I was very happy how my legs went. They didn’t feel tired after the tour despite just two days rest. Infact, I think the tour helped.
Overall though I was frustrated by the race due to the start and the finish. We had entered late and they had put me in the second start block and weren’t keen to let me change when we arrived on Saturday evening. When I complained again before the race started on Sunday they allowed me to change but issued me a new number meaning I was running around chaotically trying to change numbers shortly before the race started. I did start in block 1 but by the time I got there I was well back from the front.
The first 2 km was supposed to be neutralized but it didn’t feel that neutralized blasting along at 50 km/h trying to catch up to the font. Of course it wasn’t possible to catch up to the front because that would mean I’d have to be significantly faster than them. I did pass a whole lot of people though and got into a rhythm so that once we had finished the first hill I had a strong bunch for the descent. It was frustrating though as I feel I could have had an even better bunch if I had started closer to the front and therefore a better finish (if I were able to hold on).
Anyway, the descents were good fun. After the first hills we had a very long downhill section down a valley. I worked up the front and enjoyed racing around the corners with the bunch strung out behind me or sitting on e.g. the third wheel near the front.
After a long time we had a gradual ascent. I wasn’t sure if I could hold the pace but managed too and as we got closer to the finish it looked like I’d hold on and not get dropped. We neared the finish and I tried to find a place nearish the front from which I could launch a sprint at perhaps the 200 m mark when prompted by the signs that all good races have before the finish…
And that was the problem. The bunch rolled along, the route pointed us onto the road that enters Radstadt and suddenly without warning the finish line was 20 m in front of us. Particularly bad for launching a sprint. Grrr…
The rain in the night had vanished by the time we got up and it was clear and sunny for the last stage of the 2017 Tour de Kaernten. This was a 13 km mountain time trial with 1200 metres of climbing. We rode to the start line on the opposite side of the Ossiacher See from where we are camping. The race started in Bodensdorf and ascended Gerlitzen. The route was very nice with views down to the Ossiacher See. But we weren’t there to look at the views. No, no.
Unlike a normal time trial we started in blocks of around 20 people. I was suprised that my block didn’t ride hard from the start and I rode away from them at an easy pace. I started to put more effort in and not long into the race someone from my block passed me and I didn’t see him again. Another guy from our block closed in but I managed to hold him off to the top. The rest of the bunch vanished somewhere behind me. A bit strange.
I was happy with how I went but I seemed to slow down a bit in the middle until I got a bit more sugar into me. It flattened off near the top which might have accounted for the extra speed rather than the sugar. I got a nice finish sprint in to cross the line in around 1 hour 5 minutes.
The winner rode an insane 46 minutes and Leonie rode it in around 1 hour 25 minutes.
I decided to trim some weight from my bike so there’s no exciting Go Pro today.
Today was a good day.
I was back in the B block at the start. In the neutralised section at the beginning I rode up near the front close to the motor bikes. A cyclist a few riders in front went down and was trying to pick himself up in front of me. I dodged his drink bottle and amongst the confusion we joined the back of the A block. This was a good thing for getting a nice bunch and meant I was in a good position for the first hill after the race started.
I decided there would be plenty more hills and I should refrain a little but despite this got a very nice bunch that towed me until the first major climb. It was so good that my heart rate went down to 120 bpm in some parts despite a nice pace on the flat. Gooood.
My legs were fresh for the climb but I suspected that I’d get dropped anyway. But no, no no no, although I slid to the back for a while I managed to claw my way back to the front and got to the top first with two other guys. One of them was Jerome from RIG Freiburg. We had a delicious fast descent and then a bunch of maybe 6 people formed. We rotated through for a while until the rest caught us up.
The second major climb started after a while and my legs were ok to start with and I rode near the front. Eventually they gave out though and I lost the main bunch. By the drinks station I was riding with just a few other guys. We had a 1km section of gravel to navigate and we had reached the top. We had another fast descent. On one of the hairpin bends the guy in front of me misjudged the corner locked his breaks and slid into a patch of grass near the barrier.
I dropped the others on the descent. I was trying to conserve energy for the last climb which is normally leg destroying but this year we were approaching from a different direction. Suddenly I recognised the road we were joining. We were already a good way up the last climb. This was perfect. Usually I loose a lot of places on this climb. I rode as hard as I could, grunting away. The 1 km sign was suddenly there, then 500 m, then 200 m. I put in a little sprint up the last steep bit to the finish.
A very nice stage. Really nice views out to snow capped mountains in Slovenia(?), and green meadows a little closer. Perfect weather.
I sat and waited for Leonie for a while before we cruised back to the Ossiacher See.
Tour de Kaernten 2017 Stage 3 Lokalrunde Time: Dst: 98 km Avg: Max: Ascent:
It was cold and a bit drippy in the morning but the weather improved rapidly so that by the time we finished the race the sun was shining.
The route was pretty nice with some exciting descents and plenty of scenic bits. I went ok until around 70 km where my legs fell to pieces. I rode very slowly up the last major climb and then worked with three guys on the descent until we hit another hill and they rode away. I rode slowly to the finish line. At some point a guy caught me up on a hill and we took turns for a bit until his legs died. I seem to die on the hills first and still be able to zoom on the flat for a bit. Maybe fatness is the problem. Anyway, I rode leisurely to the finish line so as not to drop the other guy.
I felt much much better crossing the line compared with last year. I guess it was much hotter last time but I remember sitting there feeling awful. The stage was longer this year at 120 km.
Anyway, the most annoying about the day was that although I was in start block B on the starter list yesterday evening when I got to the start line I had mysteriously appeared on the C list.
The race started with a 10 km neutralised section. Usually the racing starts at the base of the first hill and I go zoom. This year this might have happened too but nobody told the motorcyclists at the front of block C and they held us back for a long long time. When they finally let us go we were well behind and I had to first pass the back of the B bunch and then more and more people to get a not so good bunch. Really pretty annoying but despite this my legs would have still given in at 70km. I might have had a faster time though.
Anyway, tomorrow according to the evening’s starter list I am to start in B so let’s see what happens.
This year the first stage of the Tour de Kaernten was the 40km time trial around the Ossiacher See. The conditions were pretty ideal. It was slightly overcast but warm enough that I didn’t need arm warmers. I started off fast and got slower. Despite zooming along at 41 km/h in the first few minutes I was overtaken by a couple of guys who made me look like I was riding backwards.
There seemed to be a continuous head wind and my tyres seemed to be flat but I think it was my legs. At least on the last section back from Feldkirchen I could ride a bit faster again. I had an average speed of around 36km/h. Slow… but I didn’t expect anything else so it was an ok ride.
I did the TT in about 1 hour 4 minutes and the winner blitzed it in 50 minutes. Speedy.
Above: Me crossing the finish line (photo Leonie).
Tour de Kaernten 2017 Stage 1 40 km Time Trial Time: 1:04:17 Dst: 39.75 km Avg: ?? km/h Max: ?? km/h Ascent: 150 m