Today was the last stage of the 2018 Tour de Kärnten. It was a short mountain time trial with a climb of about 1150 m over 16 km. I presented a master class in riding slowly. I couldn’t get my heart rate over 160 bpm in the first few km and at some point I decided it wasn’t going to happen so cruised up to the top at around 140 bpm. There was nothing in my legs today. It was cold and misty at the top so I didn’t hang around and descended back down to where my faithful support crew was waiting – thanks Leonie!
I was around 5 minutes slower than my ascent in 2016 and the climb was far less enjoyable than the mountain TT last year where I felt I rode well and passed many people on the way up. This year almost the entire field, it seemed, passed me.
Anyway the 5th Tour de Kärnten that I’ve taken part in is over. Three out of the six stages were fun. None of them went optimally for me. Stage 5 had the potential to be a good one for me but the awful start behind the broom wagon cost me a lot of energy.
Still, a nice six days of cycling.
Above: The mountain TT stage.
Tour de Kärnten 2018 Stage 6 – Mountain Time Trial Time: 01:17:17.8
It promised to be a fast course today. I started in Block B and as usual it was neutralised leaving Ossiach. A few kilometres before the race began the guy behind me told me my saddle bag (the little bag with a spare tube under my bike seat) was about to fall off my bike. I looked down and it certainly seemed to be the case. I tried to fix it, fiddling around with the velcro straps. To do this I unfortunately had to slow down loosing my place in the middle of B block. The entire block rode by and I still couldn’t get the thing fixed. The motorbike in front of Bock C was approaching. One of the guys in the front of the block rode up to me and pushed me up the slight incline as I tried to fix the problem, which was nice. It wasn’t happening though so I stopped and rethreaded the velcro. This cost so much time that all of Block C rode past then all of Block D and finally the broom wagon. Oh no… the end of my race before it had even started.
There was no chance of getting a top bunch but I thought I might be able to catch up to some people at least. I time trialled my way back up to the broom wagon. They let me pass and I continued working my way up to the back of D grade. I rode off the front of the first big bunch I found and passed various stragglers. I pulled one guy back onto his bunch and tried the same with another guy. After a good bit of effort I caught up to a bigger bunch and worked with them for a bit. Three people went off the front and I worked at the front of the bunch to chase them but when I looked behind the majority of the people following had dropped off so I rode over the few in front. A strong rider in this group pulled for a while then I had a go. I guess the bunch behind us must have caught up again as there were suddenly riders around us. Achim was in the bunch and shouted out to me whether I had slept in and missed the start.
The bunch was quite speedy and worked well together. I worked up the front with perhaps 15 others. The course was pretty flat with a few gentle ups and downs until around the 20km mark where it started to climb steeply. I held my position near the front of the group but could see riders ahead of us so decided to try and bridge across to them. With effort it worked and I caught them up and rode to the front of this group. There were some familiar riders from the last couple of days in it. We had a nice descent and everyone stayed together over the next climb until we got to the base of the 18% section. I grabbed a banana as I rode past the drinks station with a few other riders. We had lost most of the bunch by this stage and after the descent there were perhaps ten of us.
We motored along the flat everyone working well. I realised my legs were starting to fade a bit so eased off a little and around 82 km we hit the last climb. I remember it from last year and I remember struggling. It has some steep parts. With a lot of panting though I managed to stay near the front and then ride off the front behind one or two other guys once we reached the main road up to Bad Bleiberg. I couldn’t keep up with Sebastian who was in front of me but was still passing the remains of a bunch that had been ahead of us.
I got to the last descent and at some point one of the guys I had passed caught up. I jumped on his wheel and he pulled me and another guy at a tasty pace towards the finish. Surprisingly he just kept pulling and didn’t motion for us to pass so I happily sat on his wheel until 200 m before the finish. He swore at me as I sprinted past and I grinned. We may have been sprinting for 100th place but it was still a race and I’ll take any places I can get.
Overall a nice fast stage and I was really happy how my legs went. They felt strong for essentially the entire stage despite giving them a hammering at the beginning to try and TT up the field. It was a bit sad though that I couldn’t start where I had been in B Block. I may have got quite an acceptable time otherwise. Still, I was happy I could move up the field and didn’t have to ride the entire stage by myself!
Above: The height profile for the stage.
Tour de Kärnten 2018 – Stage 5 “Bad Bleiberg” Time: 03:00:18.9 Dst: 95 km Overall Men: 193 Category Place: 95
After my efforts yesterday I was moved up into the Start Block B. The race started neutralised as always and we rode to Feldkirchen. Shortly after passing through the gun went. The first hill was the same one as yesterday but instead of passing 50 or so riders on the way up the exact opposite happened. My legs felt like they had nothing in them and I crawled up the hill loosing place-after-place. I hung onto a bunch and after maybe 45 minutes of riding and hurriedly downing a few gels my legs came right. I blame too much salad yesterday and not enough Hofer Nussbrot, which is by the way delicious.
Anyway, the bunch rolled along for a while and we could see another group ahead of us. We came to a small climb and my legs felt so frisky that at the top of the climb I towed the rest of the bunch for a while until we caught up to the guys in front of us. Soon afterwards we took a right for the “Gurker Dom ascent”. This one has been in, I think, every Tour de Kärnten that I’ve done. It winds up the hill for about 5km followed by a speedy descent. I managed not to die horribly and caught up to the front guys just after the descent.
The next major climb was at 71 km and it continued up for about 14 km. My legs were still ok. It had started to rain a bit by this stage and by the time we got to the unsealed section at the top it was raining quite a bit. Last year the descent here was very quick but with water everywhere we took it much more slowly. I had ridden off the front at the summit and descended a bit back from one other guy. A few others caught up and after more descending and a bit of rolling we came up to the last climb and caught up to the remnants of another bunch that had been in front of us.
The climb went ok and my legs continued to work unlike some previous years although the climb started from about half-way like last year but unlike 2013, 2014, and 2016. I had warmed up a bit by the top but it was raining heavily. Leonie was waiting there and after a bit of food we rode back to the Ossiacher See.
A nice stage but a pity that my legs were so weak on the first climb. Maybe I’ll end back in C tomorrow. Hopefully the weather improves for tomorrow too…
Above: The height profile for the stage.
Above: Strava says.
Tour de Kärnten – Stage 4 “Lokalrunde” Time: 03:32:52.2 Dst: 98km Avg: 27.5 km/h Max: 72.7 km/h Overall Men: 162 Category Place: 86