Leonie and I headed to Zernez in Switzerland for the weekend.
On Saturday we rode Albula Pass then Flüela Pass going through Davos on the way.
On Sunday we headed across the border to Italy and rode Forcola di Livigno followed by the Bernina pass.
The weather was horribly cold on Saturday with just 6 degrees at the top of the Flüela pass. It was a little warmer on Sunday. The routes were quite nice but there was quite a lot of traffic.
The second day of the Tour Transalp was much nicer than the first. Instead of driving rain we had sunshine.
We started in Imst and again due to our second class status as two-day-entrants we were right at the very back. The first 4.5 km were neutralised but as is usually the case with neutralised starts the field was strung out over many kms and by the time the race started the good bunches were already gone. We did our best to try and move up the field a bit anyway and spent the first 45 minutes or so passing groups.
We decided we should save our energy and stay where we were but after the bunch wombled along at under 30 km/h we decided to go searching up the field a bit again. At some point we agreed with two other riders to work together and spent 15 minutes or so riding hard together which was much more enjoyable than wombling.
We were mindful that we still had to climb Timmelsjoch though so after stopping at a refreshment station we rode at a more leisurely pace until the climb. We cruised up the pass arriving at another refreshment stop at the top. The majority of the descent was pretty nice with fun switchbacks and long straights. Unfortunately there were two slow cyclists ahead of us causing a large traffic jam near the end of the descent. It took 15 minutes or so before we could pass and by that time many people had caught us up so we had a large group going into the last 30km or so.
Markus and I worked at the front for quite some time thrashing it out on the flat. It was great. Exactly what fun racing for me is about. We took turns with a strong British female team. After a while I decided we should let some other guys do some work and we dropped back for a bit. I stayed in the first few at the front but made sure I didn’t pull.
It was extremely hot so low and we really noticed it as we hit the next hill. Markus and I stayed near the front as we ascended and then descended through tiny weaving Italian roads. The last part of the race was along a narrow cycle path. I ended up at the front again and towed the Brits along for a while before I noticed that Markus had dropped off with the rest of the group. I was eager to push it to the finish line as my legs were still feeling frisky but Markus wasn’t feeling so fresh so we cruised.
A very nice stage and so much better without rain. Leonie and Angela turned up to the finish not long after we arrived.
We got place 5th and 6th in around 5 hours and 21 minutes. I felt like my legs had worked well but it doesn’t really say much as we had such a handicap to start with.
Tour Transalp 2017 – Stage 2 Schnupper – Men
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: