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The Jay Sweet Diary 1998
The Local East Coast Australian Time is
September 3, 1998 - Poitou - Charentes:
Stage 1, 178 kms:
"They're off and racing!" 3km from the start I was in a break of 13. Right from the gun Australia's newest sensation Stuart O'Grady attacked (something new !!!) which set the wheels in motion. After he was caught another attack went, then that was caught so my team mate Stephane Berges attacked and I was following a wheel that went with it so I was in the group. After 30km we had a gap of 2:30mins. I continued to work with the group to see if it would blow right out. We stayed at 2:30mins for 120km, then it came down to 1:40mins. I was feeling tired afer working for so long (for a sprinter 1 turn on the front is enough ) so I asked my director what was happening behind. He said that things were heating up and we were going to get caught. It was going to be a bunch kick and I have just used most of my energy. I sat up straight away and waited for the peloton. I was able to stay with the peloton until the finish circuit but with hard x-winds and lots of sharp corners it wasn't long before I was spat out the back. The break of 6 riders stayed out in front so it wasn't a sprint. Tomorrow is another day!
Stage 2, 185 kms:
Today's stage was the flattest of the tour. It was my best chance for a win. I was a bit tired from yesterday so I didn't see the front all day. I spent most of the day talking to Stuart and Dave Millar. The race was controlled by Casino so I just stayed out of the wind and tried to save as much energy as possible. We had a 28km finish circuit, we only had to do it once which was good because it was on really small roads and it was windy. I got a good look at the finish when we passed it, the last 200m was uphill and feeling the way I was I figured I would sprint in the 12. I suffered around the circuit, I wasn't sure if I could win but I wanted the sprint practice. It was pretty hectic, I was about 10 position with 600m to go when down the left hand side my team mate launched an attack and as he passed me he screamed for me to get on his wheel so I jumped across and he took me right to the front. With 250m to go he started to slow down so I jumped across onto the Casino train. I was in the 12 in 3rd position behind Jaan Kirsipu ( Casino ). With 200m to go he started to sprint and He took 2 bike lenghts out of me. I expected him to get a small gap because he was in the 11 but I expected him to die in the last metres because it was uphill. I started to come back at him but there was no time left. He had his arms in the air for Victory. I was 2nd. I was happy because I didn't feel super but I still made a good sprint. Tomorrow is another day !!!
Stage 3, 185 kms:
Today's stage loked harder on the profile than what it actually was. I think alot of that was because most of the day the wind was a head - cross wind or a block head wind. Casino controlled most of today but the last 70km was out of control. There were x-winds that were causing all sorts of pain in the bunch and attacks to go with it. I was feeling very average but there were alot more feeling worse than me. We had to do 1 lap of a 16km circuit and there were major x-winds. 3 riders rode off the front, they weren't big names so the bunch let them go. Big mistake! The 3 rode extremely well together and stayed away. I bought the bunch home in for 4th place which put me in the sprinters green jersey for the time trial tomorrow. I will now focus on trying to keep the jersey but it will be very difficult with 2 stages to go and the last stage looks very hard.
Stage 4, ITT 21 kms:
Just the usual for me. I just pedalled a easy gear and made sure that I mad the time cut without using up too much energy. I did so and finished around the third quater of the bunch. After the time trial I was on equal points with Lauri Aus ( Casino ) for the point jersey.
Stage 5, 108 kms:
The last stage was flat until we hit the finishing circuit. We had to do it 4 times and it had a 10% climb abot 3-4km before the line. On the first lap the bunch split and I was in the front group of about 12. Then that goup split and there was 5 up the road. I knew that this was my only chance to keep the jersey so I attacked across to it. We had a good little gap but no-one wanted to work so I attacked again to try and keep it going. It worked for a little while but we were caught again. When the bunch caught me I was in a bit of trouble and we were in a major x-wind section. The bunch was passing me at a rapid pace and it wasn't looking good for me. Feeling the way I was and with the circuit the way it was I lost alot of motivation for this stage. I eased up to try and recover from my earlier efforts and found myself in the convoy. When we hit the hill for the second time I was out of the convoy but had found myself in a group of about 10 who had been dropped in the x-winds. We were 2mins behind the bunch at the finish line so we stopped. No great drama for me, I'm really happy with my form at the moment and just in time with Tour de l'Avenir coming up next week and the Commonwealth Games the week after that so stay tuned for more results! I hope!
July 13, 1998 - On Holidays in Slovakia:
How's life? Mine's good. Slovakia is a very beautiful country, though it's like going back 15 years. Everything here is so cheap. The beer here comes in half litre glasses and only costs 50 cents...........so they tell me!
I'm starting to feel good again on the bike. The weather here has been pretty average, we've had a few days of rain but I think it's starting to get better. My first few days of training here were not good I was absolutly creeping. I was having great difficulty in getting past the 3hr mark without going hunger knock! On my 2nd day here Marcel and I were doing a 3hr loop when I hunger flatted with 1hr to go. I ate all my food and Marcels too but I wasn't enough. Thankfully here in Slovakia there are fruit trees on the side of the road so I had Marcel pick me a handfull of peaches while I layed in the grass. Things are alot better now, we are doing bigger rides with 40 - 50 mins of strength endurance. I am feeling confident for the next part of the season. I'll keep you updated. Bye for now.
August 6, 1998 - Tour des Region Wallonnes:
How's things? I'm good. My form seems to be good and I am feeling confident for the rest of the season. I didn't know how it would be after a long break. Training is good but when you don't race for a while you feel it on your first race back. I didn't really want to race this race because my luck in Belgium in the past hasn't been really good and my younger brother Corey had come to Toulouse to train with me, he had to cut his trip short by a week. Anyway here's how it went.
Stage 1, 166 kms:
Today's stage started in Liege. For those of you who have never seen or been to Liege or the region of Wallonne it's sort of a sprinters nightmare. There aren't many flat roads. If your not going up, your going down. I just hid in the bunch and tried to look after myself, being my first race back I didn't want to go into the "red zone". As each climb passed I found myself closer and closer to the front. I wasn't moving up but people were moving back. On the 6th climb for the day the bunch split and 30 riders went up the road. About 1km to go on the same climb an attack went and I was able to go with it. It took about 20km before I could catch my breath again. So much for just easing into it. Anyway I wasn't able to stay with the group which was good in a way, I didn't want to over do it. I just waited for the laughing group and cruised in to the finish.
Stage 2, 90 kms:
Today was a split day. This mornings stage was pretty flat (compared to yesterday) except for an 8.5% climb 12km before the finish. I looked after myself hoping that I could get over the last climb. When we hit the last climb it was like a bunch sprint. I just rode at my own tempo at the bottom, by the middle of the climb I was starting to catch the front group and by the top I was about 200m off. I chased with one other rider and we got on after a couple of km's. When we got on I couldn't move from last position the pace was so fast. We turned a corner with 5km to go and I got a good look at the size of the bunch. There was only about 40 riders left.........perfect! In one big effort I moved from last position to about 10th wheel which happened to be Frank V.D.B. 1km to go I was 6th and feeling very confident. 500m to go I was 3rd wheel and about to get a perfect lead out from Frank. Like clock work he hit out 200m to go, I made my move about 150m to go. With 20m to go I was in front and about to throw both arms in the air when Lotto's Jo Plankaert grabbed my jersey and slung off me! I couldn't believe it! After the race we put in a protest and watched the finish on the official U.C.I. camera. It happened so close to the line you could see everything. He was disqualified and I was given 8th place. The one race in Belgium I thought I was going to finish without a hick up and this had to happen.
Stage 3, 20 kms time trial:
Pretty straight forward for me. Just make the time cut. The course had a nasty 3km climb in it but I tackled the whole course in 29:46min, Frank V.D.B. won in around 26 - 27 mins. Not bad for me, maybe I should have tried harder?
Stage 4, 195 kms:
Today was up and down all day. There was 3 climbs early. The bunch stayed together all day. I was feeling better today than the first two days. I just stayed near the front out of the wind. 25k to go the pace really picked up. There was a slight x-wind which made things slightly uncomfortable. I was on the wheel of my team mate when there was a sudden move in the bunch to the right. I was overlapping my team mates wheel (on the right) and I ran out of road. I was on the grass for a moment but it ran out and there was a big ditch. Yep you guessed it.........my front wheel dug in and I went straight over the bars. I chased on my own for 15km before giving up. Another day in Belgium!
Stage 5, 180 kms:
Today was the last day. It was extremely hilly. I told my director before the start that I was only going to ride to the feed zone. It was fine with him because I have another 4 days of racing in France starting tomorrow. I stayed with the bunch until the 4th climb which was about 10km before the feed. I was cruising with one of my team mates and a Casino rider when the road we were riding on turned to gravel. While we were riding we weren't paying attention to where we were going and missed a corner. The road was gravel and became steep. We looked up to the top (about 400m ) and could see the lead motor bike for the race. We continued on the gravel road and when we came out at the top we were with the bunch again! We had just taken a short cut. We did the right thing and dropped off the back again.
So that was about it for the Tour de Region Wallonne. I have come to the conclusion that I will try to avoid all races in Belgium. I've heard of bad luck but I think this is beyond bad luck!