The Local East Coast Australian Time is
May 22, 1998 - After the Tour de l'Oise:
Tour de l'Oise, Stage 1 - 188km
Well this tour is known to be a sprinter's tour. It's 188km on the Saturday and 2x100km stages on Sunday. All 3 stages are relatively flat. I was still getting over my cold. When my director tried to motivate me before the start, it didn't do much. I was feeling tired, sick and would much rather have been sitting on my couch in Toulouse watching a video. The first attack came when the officials dropped the flag. I was down the back getting some encouragement from Stevo (Neil Stephens). I stayed there for the next 50km while each team took it in turns to attack and make the race as uncomfortable as possible. When we hit the first bit of x-winds I was the first rider dropped and I didn't have the heart to chase so I sat up rode to the feed zone where my soigneur was waiting for me.........Tour
I have had a lot of racing so far this year and am over due for a
break but with the Tour selection coming up there is no time for breaks so
I guess I'll have to push through it and try to keep motivated. Bye for
May 14, 1998 - Nocturne Aubervilliers - 75 kms:
Tuesday night I raced two criteriums. One was an elimination and the other was a straight out criterium. These races were held in a suburb of Paris - Aubervilliers. It is the suburb where my team is based. These criteriums are mainly for the spectators so all the riders are paid to put on a good show. This doesn't mean riding around on one wheel or something like that, it means making lots of attacks and remember your being paid whether you win or not. There is no prize money so most of the guys don't worry about winning they just want to get up the road. It is normally really fast and hard.
The elimination was pretty short and straight forward. Every lap (1.7km) the last 2 riders are out. When it comes down to the last 5 riders they sprint out for first place. Because there was another race after, the riders just cruised around for half a lap then started to wind up for the sprint. It was good for me, I just had to sit in and sprint passed everyone. I made it to the last 5 and when it came to the last 200m I was 3rd wheel and I came off the 2 riders in front of me quite easily. That's right I've won my first race over here but it doesn't really count.
In the criterium I followed a few moves that went off the front but nothing that stayed. 4 laps to go 3 riders slipped off the front. I didn't think it would stay away but we had 1 guy in it anyway. It did stay away and Stephane Barthe ( French Champ - Casino ) won. My team mate was 3rd. Another guy jumped away on the last lap to finish 4th and I brought the bunch home in 5th place. I'm happy with the way I'm sprinting.
Wednesday night I raced a madison on the track organised by the Tour de France Society. For those who don't know much about me I have some history on the track. Anyway I rode it with my Russian team mate Alexei Sivakov. We both borrowed track bikes from the team. We didn't even have a warm up on them. We just jumped on them and went. I won the first sprint, was 3rd in the 2nd sprint and was 4th in the 3rd sprint. We were equal 1st place with another team so I decided to attack. I was in full sprint when my chain snapped. I nearly went over the handlebars. I left Alexei in the bunch for about 20 laps. While I was out we lost a lap and a half. When I got back in I attacked straight away and got us back into the bunch. As soon as I slung Alexei back in he attacked and we were away again. We got our lap back and were back into the race. We were down on points now and a few of the teams were looking tired so I attacked again. I was away when I hit a patch of dirt on the track and my front wheel slipped from underneath me and before I knew it I was lying on the track. I didn't really hurt myself, just a bit of skin off here and there but we decided to call it a day there.
May 13, 1998 - Stage 7, 4 Days of Dunkerque
Stage 7 - 180km
I was really looking forward for this stage to be over. Yesterday took a lot out of me and I knew today could be a long day. It started out flat but was really uncomfortable because l'equipe Casino swapped off to stop any attacks. After about 70km the peloton turned onto the 9km circuit that we had to do 5 times. The circuit had 2 climbs on it and the rest was either downhill or x-winds. I made it over the main climb with the bunch on the first lap but the 2nd time there was an attack and I was dropped just before the top. I had a pretty hard chase but managed to get on just before the main climb again. I was praying that they would take it easy this lap because I had just got on. They did and I stayed with the bunch for that lap. On the 4th lap there was another attack and I went straight out the back. As the convoy was passing me I was waiting for my team car. When it pulled up next to me I was relieved to see that my sympathetic director was holding a bidon out of the window. I grabbed it but he didn't let go! I wasn't going to let go either and before I knew it I was going twice as fast as I was before. I doesn't take long for the race officials to get suspicious and drop back, so before I knew it I was on my own again. This time I didn't get back on at the bottom but the bunch was just in front of me so I kept on going. It was half the size now, a lot of the riders had got dropped and just pulled out but I wanted to finish. Finally we had finished on the circuit and had about 65km to go. I thought I'd never see the peloton again for today but there was a big crash and the convoy had stopped for a moment. It was enough for me to hide in it. I slowly made my way through the convoy and back into the bunch. It was flat and fast all the way into the finish. I recovered enough to think that I could go for the sprint but when it came I didn't have a lot of power left and had to settle with finishing in the bunch. After the stage my director said I had "courage" and he was proud of me because I didn't give up.
May 10, 1998 - 4 Days of Dunkerque
How's it going Bill? I'm knackered. I've just finished the 5th stage of this filthy tour. I'll give you details of the first few stages just to break it up a bit.
4 Days of Dunkerque is actually a 6 day tour. When I arrived at the hotel the day before the tour started it was blowing a gail, so I started to prepare myself for a long hard week.
Stage 1 - 178 kms
It was really windy and the bunch was nervous, a perfect recipe for crashes. I stayed at the front as much as possible. There were 3 climbs, the first, I suffered but it was no problem. The second, I really suffered! I was the last person in the bunch to go over. The bunch split into 3 different groups over the top. I thought I was in for a really long day but it re-grouped again after a couple of km's. The third climb was cobbled and I made sure I started it at the front. I went over the top in the first 20 because straight after the climb there was a dangerous descent. Straight after the descent there was a strong cross wind and a small road. The bunch split into many groups. I was in the front group. After a while two groups caught us. When we got to the finish circuit I thought that this could be it...my first win for the year. I was positioned well with 2km to go. I was on the Casino train. Just before the 1km to go I was pushed back. I was really tired from the race and was unable to put up a big fight. With 1km to go I was about 30th wheel. Just when I was about to move up, the Casino train opened up the burners and the pace was so fast I was unable to move. I finished in the bunch. Maybe next time.
Stage 2 - 188 kms
Today was absolutly terrible. It was still blowing a gale but now there was rain. The first 100km was a head wind. The peloton at times was doing 20km/hr. It was a very long 100km. Straight after the feed zone we turned left and it was a strong x-wind. GAN attacked and the bunch split into pieces. I was in the front group but we hit a climb and I went straight to the back of the group. Over the top of the climb it went straight back into the gutter and I was last wheel. I was just about to swing off when 5 guys in front sat up. Thank God! I was absolutly stuffed. Eventually 3 more groups went past me. I managed to stay with one for about 30km but I didn't have much left so I dropped off from that group and found a good sized group that was going more my pace.
Stage 3 - 107 kms
Today was a split day. The morning stage was finally a tail wind. The pace was flat out the whole way. I think we averaged about 48-49km/hr. About 20km before the finish there was a climb that was 25%. It was so steep that some of the team cars got bogged going up it. As you can probably guess I was dropped and just cruised into the finish.
Stage 4 - 24 kms ITT
In the afternoon we had an Individual Time Trial. All I had to do was make the time cut. Easier said than done. It was probably the hardest I.T.T. course I've ever done. It was hilly and still blowing a gail. I actually did a good ride. I think I finished about 50th. Not bad for a sprinter who is just trying to make the cut.
Stage 5 - 187 kms
Today was the first day the sun was really shining. It was about 25 degrees but still windy. The bunch stayed together all day. Alexai SivaKov (9th on G.C.) our best placed rider had a puncture at a really bad moment. Straight after the K.O.M. sprint and the bunch was flat out. 3 of us stopped with him and drove afterwards to get him back on. Just before we got back on I blew in the wind and couldn't get on the back of my team mates. There were riders getting dropped from the peloton but today I didn't want to be one of them. I chased for about 10km and finally I got back on. When we hit the finish circuit it was extremely windy and once again the bunch split to bits. I was on Festina sprinter Marcel Wust's wheel and he swung off and left me to bridge the gap. I was absolutly stuffed but it was 10km to go and I was still with the front group. I made it to the bunch but I was last wheel. I stayed there for about 500m then I blew. I wasn't upset after the stage for missing a sprint because I had spent most of my energy helping my team mates. I know they'll return the favour
Stage 6 - 180 kms
Today was the hardest day for the tour. It was 5 laps of a 28km circuit. The circuit had 3 climbs on it. I was hoping to get as close as possible to the finish line with the bunch. As each lap went by more and more riders were dropping off. I was tired but I could stay with the bunch. I was team domestic again today. I said I would do as much as possible while I was still in the bunch. I was getting bidons all day because it was really hot. Well it was about 28 degrees. With 2 laps to go I was still with the bunch. I started to think that maybe I could make it to the last lap with the bunch. I was motivating myself by saying " Come on Jay, just one more climb then you can sit up..........come on Jay just one more." Before I knew it there was only one climb to go, The finish climb. Well I made it to the finish climb and I even tried to stay with the leaders but I was dropped with 1km to go. I was stoked after today's race and so was my director. He came up and shook my hand after the race. Just one more stage to go. There is a couple of climbs but it's expected to be a bunch sprint. I don't know how strong I'll feel tomorrow but I'll give it my best.
April 26, 1998 - Vendee Classic, 210 kms:
I'm just sitting in my hotel room at the moment recovering from todays race. My legs are still aching and it's about 6hrs since the race finished. Anyway here's how it went.
I raced this race last year with the ZVVZ Giant A.I.S. team so I knew what to expect but either the hills grew or we went faster this year. I forgot how hard this race was. There wasn't a flat bit of road in it. The two major climbs are about 2km long but are extremely steep. The rest of the course was full of smaller but just as steep climbs. There was 10 categorized hill sprints and I felt every one.
I put no pressure on myself today, I just wanted to finish for the training, so I made a few attacks early in the race. Then we went up the first major climb and I regretted attacking. I was in some serious trouble. Luckily I stayed with a small group and was able to join the main peloton again. I decided just to sit in the bunch and try to survive but even that's difficult when the pace is around 50km/hr, up and down hills. When we hit the second major climb I had really motivated myself and had good positioning at the bottom but I guess when you can't climb you can't climb! I threw out the anchor and was at the back of the bunch before I knew it. When I got over the top I was still on the back of the bunch but the bunch had split in two. I prayed that the second half of the bunch would just sit up and ride into the finish for training but I guess I was the only one because they chased for about 40km and it was in the gutter the whole way. Finally the peloton re-grouped and it looked like it was going to be a bunch sprint. Just my luck, a bunch sprint when I absolutly knackered. It wasn't, the finish circuit was about 7km long and was pretty hard. There was a long drag just before you turned onto the long 1km finish straight which was uphill. A small group got away on the circuit and the rest of us were sprinting for the minor placings. I attempted for the sprint but I didn't have the legs or the heart for an uphill sprint. I blew with 300m to go and most of the peloton had passed me by the finish line. It was a good training race for me and I'm happy that I finished.
My next race is 4 days of Dunkerque which is actually a six day race. There is normally a couple of days for the sprinters. It starts on the 5th of May so tune in then. Bye from France.
April 23, 1998 - G.P. Denain 200 kms:
I was pretty motivated for this race. It was 1x 65km lap then 9 x 14km laps around the city of Denain. It was dead flat but there was a lot of cross winds that made it hard and dangerous. The pace was on from the start and never eased up. 1 day races very rarely end up as a bunch sprint so I had to stay right up near the front and be ready to jump across to any breaks that looked dangerous. A small break went just before we hit the circuits but it was missing a couple of teams so I stayed in the bunch. T.V.M. got on the front with 6 laps to go. It was very uncomfortable and the bunch was getting smaller and smaller as each lap passed. I had a puncture with 4 laps to go so one of my team mates, Ludovic Auger gave me his wheel. The bunch was single file when I punctured and doing beween 55 and 60km/hr. I thought that my race was over but I chased as hard as I could. My team mate had just sacrificed his race for me, I had to get back on. After 5km of flat out chasing I could see the last team car in the convoy about 100m in front of me. That's a long way when your on your own and there is a team on the front chasing a break. I was just about to blow when my team car came passed. My director must have been enjoying the scenery around him because he came passed at about 50km/hr and I was able to jump on the back of the car. When he realised that I was on the back of the car he started to speed up. I think he was trying to shake me off because your not allowed to sit on the back of team cars in a race. Anyway I sped up with him and before I knew it I was on the back of the race convoy. I jumped from one team car to the other and finally made it back on to the bunch.
I was pretty tired now and it was still in the gutter and extremely uncomfortable. When it came down to the last kilometers I made my way to the front and found myself pushing T.V.M.'s sprinter Jeroen Bljilevens off of Moncassin's wheel. With 1km to go the bunch propped and I was swamped. When we turned into the home straight with 400m to go I was about 30th position. I decided to sprint anyway and ended up 17th. Not real good but that's life. Better luck next time.
April 21, 1998 - La Cote de Picarde, 193 kms:
La Cote de Picarde 193km
This race was a French Cup race. It was only a cat 1.4 ( U.C.I ) so it allowed some French amateur teams to ride. The course was reasonably flat looking at the profile. It's funny how different race profiles can be. There were 5 catagorized climbs and one was on the finishing circuit which we did 3 times. The finishing circuit was 25km around.
The bunch was happy to just cruise for the first hour which is surprising for a one day race. It's normally flat out from the start, ecspecially with amateurs in the bunch. It was flat and we had a tail wind. After the first premie sprint (44 kms) the attacks started. Then we turned into a cross wind and the peloton split into 4 or 5 different groups. I was feeling good and made the front group. After 10km or so the peloton rejoined but was single file for at least another 15km. It was really uncomfortable because it was a slight cross wind and the terrain was undulating. At the 100km mark came the first climb. It was hard but I stayed with the bunch, in fact I stayed with the bunch until the circuit. After we crossed the finish line for the first time I thought maybe there was a chance that I could get a good placing. Looking at the course profile the finish circuit didn't look that difficult. WRONG! About 300m after the line we turned right and the road went up! It went up for a good 1.5km. I tried to go with the attacks on the climb but went straight in the red and blew about 400m from the top. I thought "no worries, just drop back and get on over the top." There were cross winds over the top and the bunch was a lot smaller than it origanally was at the start. Over the top of the climb I was about 50m off the back of the bunch and in the cross winds that is not good. I never saw the bunch again. A couple of km's later a small group caught me and we just finished the race for training.
I have another French cup race tomorrow ( Thursday ). It's supposed to be flat with cross winds so it will suit me better. Wish me luck!