The Jay Sweet Diary 1999
The Local East Coast Australian Time is
Vendee Classic, 205kmWell I've just had a nice little break and a well deserved one atthat too. I wasn't really looking forward to this race because the firstrace back is always really hard but I needed to do it before my next race 4days of Dunkerque.
The weather was cold and wet. The bunch cruised out at a nice pace.The first of 10 climbs was at 45km. I felt good up until then, then Isuffered for the next 140km. I was in a couple of breaks but wasn'tfeeling good at all. Towards the finishing circuit I was really starting tofeel it and wasn't sure how much longer I could go on feeling like this. Istopped on the first of 3 laps. I was so cold, wet and tired that I justrode straight to the hotel which fortunatly was only 5km away. I'm notreally concerned because it was quite a hard day, when I stopped there wasonly about 50 riders left. I've now got 1 more week of solid trainingbefore my next tour.
April 7-10 - Circuit de la SartheStage 1, 148 kms:
Today's stage was a circuit of 13km which we had to do 11 times. Thelast 500m was the start of the hill. The first 4 laps there were lots ofattacks. I was feeling good and made most of the groups. As we passed thefinish on the 5th lap the bunch was all together so I decided to attack onthe hill. At the top I had 30 secs and there was 5 other riders with me.For the next 3 laps we rode pretty hard and had a 4min gap. On the next 2laps I was starting to feel tired and started to skip a turn here andthere. I knew the other guys were going to attack me on the last lap. Itwas there only chance to win so the last time up the hill I got on thefront and set a hard tempo hoping that the others would be content and sitbehind me. They weren't! They attacked me one by one and by the top of theclimb I was 50m behind. I chased as hard as I could but they made sure Ididn't get back on. The bunch had split into 4 groups and the front groupcaught me 7km to go. I finished with them and we were 46secs behind thefront 5. I am in the sprinters jersey and am 6th overall.
Stage 2, 205 kms:
Today we did 160 kms before reaching the 10 kms finishing circuit whichwe had to do 4 times. There were 2 climbs on the circuit. The first was thefinishing climb which was about 1.5km and the 2nd climb was 500m at 18%which is really steep. I stayed with the front group for the first 2 lapsno probs but on the 3rd I struggled a bit on the steep climb. I knew I wasgoing to be in trouble on the last lap and I was. I couldn't stay with thefront guys up the steep climb but managed to finish 40th at 51secs. I havea good lead on the sprinter's jersey but my chance at G.C. is over. Now I'llhave to try for a stage win!
Stage 3, 210 kms:
Today's stage was flatter than the first two. I went for theintermediate sprints to secure my jersey. I won both and had an unbeatablelead. The finish circuit was quite hard again and there was alot offighting for position. I held good position until 2km to go. The paceborked and I was swamped. I turned the last corner in about 5th positionand knew I was too far back. I went to step off the Banesto rider in frontof me when he hit a pot hole and lost control and turned into my line. Iwas borked again but now it was only 200m before the finish. I was in the11 cog and there was no chance in getting it going so I finished 5th.That's life in bunch sprinting!
Stage 4, 17 kms ITT:
17km is a bit far fo me for a time trial. I can hold my own up toabout 10km but I wanted to give today a go just to see how far I'm off.1:36min to be exact! Not too bad, I didn't feel really good but gave iteverything I had. I finished 30th and am 27th overall at 2:18min. One stageto go.
Satge 5, 99 kms:
The tempo was on from the start and after this mornings time trialI didn't feel great at all. The finish circuit was quite hard and I didn'thave much motivation left. I managed to stay with the remainding ridersuntil the last time up the hill which was 4km to go. After I rolled intothe finish I was glad this tour was over. It's quite mentally taxing racingeveryday for G.C. or a jersey or even the stage. I'm looking forward to abit of a break. I'm going to sit on the lounge all day tomorrow drinkingHot Chocolate and watching Paris-Roubaix.
April 4 - GP Rennes, 195 kms:Well I was unsure whether to start here because I've had a sorethroat and a blocked nose all week. I've been feeling average out trainingand don't feel like racing but that's life. This race was a flat 13 kmscurcuit which we had to do 15 times. It was flat out most of the day. Lotsof attacks were going but were getting bought back. I felt average but wasstil with most of the moves. After the half way mark it slowed down a bitbut wasn't long before it started up again. I wasn't feeling very motivatedto race anymore and wanted a break to go so it would be over. With 4 lapsto go a break of about 20 riders went up the road with 2 of my team mates.The bunch sat up and it wasn't long before the break was long gone. With 3laps to go it started to rain so I stopped as we passed the team bus andhad a nice hot shower!
April 1, 1999 - Tour of NormandyWhen my director asked me 3 weeks ago which races I wanted to do I asked todo this one. He said no and wanted me to do Criterium International. Then 4days before this race started he rang me and asked me if I would still doit. I said yes because it's a good race for me to get some results. So Ipacked my suitcase again and off I went!
Prologue - 6 kms ITT:
Not my speciality but I wanted to go flat out to see how I wouldgo. There was a small hill (600m) after the first kilometer then a descent,a bit of false flat and then flat to the finish. I rode over the course 4times so I knew every corner. Everything went well in my time trial exceptfor a car pulling out of a driveway in front of me and nearly taking me andthe motorbike with me out. I finished 9th, 10 seconds behind the winnerwhich happened to be my old Junior rival Brad McGee! A great start for theAussies.
Stage 1 - 210 kms:
Nothing reallly bad on the profile today so I was going to go for thetime bonus and then hope for a bunch sprint for more time bonuses, then Iwould take the jersey. I was away in a break for 60km and picked up a 2second bonus. After we got caught there were a heap of attacks. Finally itsplit again and I was in the 2nd group but we caught the front group notlong after. As we came in for the last 40km my team mate attacked so wedidn't chase the break of 6. They finished 1:36min in front and I won thebunch sprint for 7th quite comfortably. My team mate punctured 10km to goand finshed last in the break. Not a really good stage for us. The tour'snot over yet and I reckon I've got a stage win in me!
Stage 2 - 160 kms:
Today was the first bunch sprint of the tour. The course was prettyflat and the bunch rolled along for most of the day. We finished with2x40km circuit. The last 2km were cross winds and my team were unable toshelter me so I basically did a 2km time trial with a sprint at the finish.I came from 6 back and finished 2nd. I wasn't really happy after and knew Icould do better! Tomorrow's another day.
Stage 3 - 210 km:
Today was a long day because it was a cross-head wind all day so wedidn't race until the finishing circuit. The pace all day was stilluncomfortable because team Chicky World swapped off all day and the rest ofus were in the gutter. The finish circuit was 16km long and we did ittwice. The last 250m were uphill which is good for me. The last lap wasreally hard, there were alot of attacks but it all came back together. 5kmto go and the Yellow jersey attacked and stayed away until 300m to go. I wasabout 8 back when I saw Nazon (La Francaise des Jeux) start his sprint. Itook off and was in 2nd place with 100m to go. Nazon still had a good bikelength on me but I was coming at him fast and I knew he wouldn't hold on.In the last 50m I was on him and he tried 1 last desparate tactic...hedrifted me from the left side of the road to the right but I had themomentum. My first win for the year! Hopefully there's more to come! I now have thepoints jersey and am 6th overall.
Stage 4 - 200 kms:
Today was up and down all day. A break went away and had 15mins.One of the guys in the break was only 2mins down on G.C. so he was now theleader on the road. Team Chicky World didn't start chasing until 60km togo. With 15km to go there was a steep 3km climb. The bunch split over itand I was in the front 6. A couple of km's later a few more riders got onand there was a group of 16. We stayed away and I won the sprint in for4th. We didn't catch the others but they were only 10secs in front at thefinish.
Stage 5 - 190 kms:
Today we finished on top of a hill. We had to do it 4 times beforethe finish. The bunch stayed together all day. When we got to the hillriders were attacking every time but it would come back together on thedecent. Riders were getting dropped every lap so the bunch was gettingsmaller and smaller. On the last lap there was just a group of 18 with 3off the front. With 200m to go 2 of the guys off the front got tangledtogether and crashed! I sprinted in the group of 18 to finish 2nd just2secs behind the leader.
Stage 6 - 30 kms TTT:
Quite basic stage really...go flat out! My team finished 2ndto Chicky World at 25secs. I moved into 5th place Overall now and have thepoints jersey!
Stage 7 - 100 kms:
After 45km there was a 3km climb at 14%. Three of us went over thetop in front, Brad McGee was in another group of 3 just behind us and thebunch was about 25secs behind. The 6 of us got together and drove it. Itwas quite hilly for the next 25km and we had a gap of 1:20min. I was now in2nd place Overall, wih 30km to go my director told me to sit on and notwork! I still don't understand why, I told him that if the bunch caught usI would be too tired to win the sprint but he insisted I sit on. So I didas I was told then Brad and the race leader stopped driving it and thebreak came down to 25secs. There was only 15km to go and we still had25secs but I couldn't work! I was caught 2km to go and was unable to winthe sprint. I think I finished 9th or 10th in the sage. I finished 5thoverall and won the points jersey. Not a bad tour for me! I won a stage,3x2nd places, a 4th, a 7th and a 9th in the prologue. Top 10 everyday.
My next race is G.P. Rennes.