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
Today was a 100x better than yesterday. We headed off neutralised towards Feldkirchen. Not long after a left turn away from Feldkirchen the start gun went and we approached the first climb for the day. My legs felt pretty good and I passed many people before the climb and then at least 50 during the climb. It was a little difficult to get past some people as I was barricaded in at points but after the 15 minutes or so of climbing I was chasing a good bunch with two others. We descended for a good while at a reasonable pace until at some point we had a left turn that lead into a steep climb. I managed to move back to the front of the bunch and kept up with the first riders while others dropped back. The climb continued for quite some time though and I couldn’t keep up with the front of the bunch near the top and dropped back a little.
We had a fast descent. I took one corner a little bit fast but recovered with just a little bit of brake locking. I rode with two other guys at the bottom of the descent and we caught up to the guys in front. We climbed for the next 15 km or so. I grabbed a banana that was held out to me as we rode past the drinks station and then we had a short sharp ascent. I remember dying horribly on this ascent last year but this time I only died partially. I almost slipped off the back but managed to cling on and got to the top at the back with a few others. Another fast descent and then I worked with three other guys to begin with, rotating constantly and racing along the flat. I didn’t die horribly in the small ascent in the “enge Gurk” as apposed to last year(?) and kept up during the speedy descent that followed. One guy attacked on the descent and I followed with another but after some terrifying corners I dropped back a bit. It was ok as the group reformed.
We entered Feldkirchen shortly afterwards. I tried to keep on a wheel and do as little work as possible for the last sprint. They had closed the roads for the last couple of km which was very nice. I didn’t quite hit the sprint right and was too far back and had to follow in across the finish line. The sprint is up hill to the finish line over cobble stones which is exciting.
A nice stage in nice weather with a good group. It was really much better than yesterday and felt like a race. Definitely good fun. It’s a pity though that your position at the start seems to have such a large influence on your position at the end. I think I wouldn’t have placed nearly so well in the Tannheimer Tal middle course in 2014 if I hadn’t lifted my bike over the barrier at the start into the second row. And today if I had been with people who rode the first ascent at the same speed as I did then I’d have ended in a better bunch and if my legs hadn’t died then I’d have had a much better result. If you start at the back you have no chance to catch up because all the people who climb at the speed are doing exactly that, climbing at the same speed. Anyway, still a nice stage.
Above: The profile for the third stage.
Above: One of the less terrifying descents. I didn’t think to switch my Go Pro on for the terrifying bits as I wasn’t expecting them…
Above: The finish “sprint”. Not really a sprint as I timed it a bit poorly…
Tour de Kärnten Stage 3 “Dach der Tour” Time: 03:49:11.4 Dst: 122km/1850m Place Category: 77 Men Overall: 132