TdK 2019 – 6 – Berg(zeit)fahren

Today was the last stage of the Tour de Kärnten for 2019. It was reasonably successful.

The format this year was different compared with the last few years. In the past we have started either in small groups or alone and the course was a pure hill climb. This year it was essentially a short road race with a hill climb to the finish line. Not that this was a bad thing.

As usual, we started neutralised from Ossiach. We headed to Feldkirchen and then took a left taking the same ascent from the Dach der Tour. The first 35km were the same until we reached the hill climb. A sharp left turn and we started climbing.

My strategy for the stage had been not to go too hard to start with as I thought my legs would probably blow up on the climb. So I rode at a moderate pace on the first climb and stuck with a bunch through to the last climb. I bridged a gap at one point but otherwise didn’t do any work.

This proved to be a good tactic as my legs weren’t in bad shape for the last 700 m of ascent. I was feeling like a tasty pie or perhaps a banana could help me but since none were available I made do with my caffeine filled jubes. I rode to the front of the bunch as the climb began. I was worried my legs would die halfway up and the bunch would flow past me again but I got into a good rhythm and started to pass many people. I caught up to a group that must have been the remains of the next bunch and slowly passed them too. Good times.

The road became much steeper, 16 percent according to my cycle computer. I kept puffing my way up. I could see snow further up and it was starting to get a little cooler. The 1000 m sign appeared and then after more panting the 500 m sign. I tried to sprint across the finish line but it was pretty pitiful. Still, I was quite pleased with my effort.

There was snow near the finish line and on the hills. The sun was out though and it was surprisingly warm. I rolled back down after a short break. There was a large group waiting at the bottom of the climb and I jumped on the cycle train heading back to Ossiach getting there in half the time it had taken to ride the stage.

And with that the Tour de Kärnten was over for 2019. It seemed to go quite quickly this time around. I didn’t seem to feel as tired this year. Maybe it was the cooler weather… or did I just ride more slowly.

Tour de Kärnten 2019 Stage 6 Bergzeitfahren

Time: 02:03:50.1 Dst: 41.9 km Place: 180  Cat place: 87

TdK 2019 – 5 – Burgenrunde

Today the weather forecast sunshine and good times. Well mostly sunshine and 20 degrees but good times can be had by 20 degrees so it’s essentially equivalent.

We headed off neutralised to Feldkirchen again and then shortly after started climbing. Due to the profile of the stage I thought it would be a good idea to get a fast bunch so worked hard on the climb. My legs were already cooking slightly by the time the rolling climbs had finished and we began descending. Still I had got an ok bunch and so I sat at the back of it and we cruised along.

The problem with my approach is that by the time we got to the next major climb I was a bit tired still and so I couldn’t keep up with the bunch. I ended up getting to the top with just a few other guys. We descended and the small bunch worked well but I was still too slow. I kept up for a while but then spotted a big bunch behind us and wondered if it was worth riding hard when we would most likely be caught up.

Another guy dropped off the back and although we could have got back on the bunch we were indecisive until it was too late. He had ran out of water and I offered him mine. We worked together until the bottom of the last hill climb. As the climb began the big bunch caught us and there were cyclists everywhere.

I managed to float at the front of the bunch for a while. I was now also out of water but spotted Sebastian, from previous years, up ahead and asked him if he had anything left. He graciously gave me a bottle to help myself to and we talked for a while before the climb got too steep to continue.

He rode off ahead and although I kept going my legs were fading a bit. Some cyclists began to pass me. The last steep climb to the finish line was really hard. Leonie cheered me on as I rounded the last corner. Bernd, standing below the finish line, ran the last few metres with me crossing the line.

The finish was at a nice castle which was made nicer by the fact they were serving Kaiserschmarrn in the restaurant to all the participants. I grabbed a plate and headed back down to the last corner where Leonie had been secondered into triggering the cameras on the last corner.

All-in-all a good stage but a shame my legs died a bit in the end.

 

Tour de Kärnten 2019 Stage 5 Burgenrunde

Time: 03:11:32.3 Place: 183 Cat Place: 86

TdK 2019 – 4 – Bad Bleiberg

The sound of rain on the tent when I woke was not very inspiring. I told Leonie that I was too old for this sort of carry-on and that I’d not bother with the stage. But then I got up and had breakfast and the rain ceased. So I found myself riding to the start under grey skies and with multiple layers of cycling attire. My cycle computer claimed it was 10 degrees. Maybe it was warmer but not much.

I got to the start later than normal due to my lack of motivation but the start blocks seemed to have fewer people than normal. Hmm.

We headed right today and rode along the lake in the same direction as the time trial. Last year on this stage I had a disaster with my saddle bag and had to ride my own time trial back from behind the broom wagon. This year nothing like that happened but soon after the race started (i.e. after the neutralised section ended) there was already a large gap well up the road. I sprinted across another gap that had formed to a smaller bunch but the group of perhaps 200 were already too far up the road to catch.

Unlike last year I took it easy and hung around in the bunch not doing much work. My legs felt ok but the seemed to be a little below operating temperature with the cool conditions. I rode away from the now quite large bunch at the first long ascent and descended cautiously on the wet road. After regrouping on the flat there was a group of maybe 12-15 of us for the rolling hills that followed. I grabbed a banana held out to me at the drinks station after the short 18 percent climb directly before.

We then had a fast descent to the main road and a long flat ride back along the road towards Villach. In previous years I’ve had to work hard with small bunches here but this year the bunch was large and I sat on and did no work. At around 80 km the course takes a right and begins to climb to Bad Bleiberg. I was thinking of letting the bunch go and cruising slowly to the top of the hill but just before the turn decided against it. I cycled to the front of the bunch and started the climb leaving the bulk of the bunch just behind me. I kept them just behind me until the steep part of the climb came. I’ve really suffered on this part in previous years but this year it was ok, perhaps because I’d been resting my legs in the bunch or perhaps it was helped by my new 32-10 cassette.

There were a number of woman in the bunch and one of them had attacked also and was riding up on my wheel. I tried to control my breathing and worked on riding hard. We took turns passing each other up the hill until we met a couple of other guys, one being Rene from last year. I got away a bit and they were slightly behind until the woman and another guy caught up again near the top of the climb. She was eager to stay away from the bunch to hold her position in front of the other women and shouted “tempo, tempo” at us, i.e. pull me to the finish line.

In the end there were three guys and her and we worked together to the finish. I sat behind just before the finish and then did a fun and pointless finish sprint. I’m sure that only aggravated the others I’d been riding with but I enjoyed it all the same.

Leonie was at the finish line and cheered me on as I crossed it. Instead of cycling back as in previous years she drove us back to the camp site for an afternoon of lazy times.

I finished in 3 hours and 5 minutes which was ok, except that last year I finished in 2:59 minutes and last year I lost my place in B block, had to TT from behind the broom wagon through D, C and then to find some faces I knew in B(?). I also had to work in the bunches a lot. Hmmm, I must have been quite a bit fitter. Or perhaps the better weather last year helped. I don’t know.

 

 

Tour de Kärnten 2019 Stage 4 Bad Bleiberg

Time: 3:05:51.2 Dst: Avg: Place: 183 Cat Place: 89 Men Open