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Moving on up: The Trent Wilson Journal 2004
After being one of six iTeamNova riders who made the cut last year when his Aussie Div III team merged with RDM-Flanders to form Flanders-iTeamNova, "Willo's" earned a place in Division II with Colombia Selle Italia in 2004. Follow his progress and get a taste of Aussie humour as he lights up the road in Europe. Trent also his own web site at www.trentwilson78.com where you can find out even more about this Sydney rider.
Italy, August 6, 2004
Going through the motions
The last few weeks have involved a lot of miles, a few races, up and down form, more of the usual stories and a lot of organizing.
The first thing I had to organize, and spent a lot of my own time and money doing so, was the Sun Tour. I am really geed that John Craven has invited my team to ride this year's Sun Tour and we definitely have a team that can win the overall title. Hopefully I can regain my 2002 Sun Tour form and give it a big shot this year. Also Russ is geed to win stages, get a jersey or two of some description, or go for GC as well. Raphael Illiano is absolutely stomping at the moment and if he has half the form he's got at the moment, he will be the man for GC. The other two riders coming out are Philippe Schneider and Ruber Marin. That's where a lot of my energy has gone - to get Ruber's visa organized, to get the Colombian climber on the start line. I have also been helping my mate Tommy Buchacek to get his visa so he can come out from Czech to ride the Sun Tour for his fourth time, and fifth appearance in Australia. The second thing I had to organize along with Russ, was the post-Tour crits in Holland. Stuff like getting starts in all the crits, accommodation and transport. So, its been a busy few weeks on that front.
8th Internationalen Raiffeisen Grand Prix - 1.5, Austria, July 11, 2004
With all the racing in Italy I am not sure why, but we headed to Austria for a smaller race, a UCI 1.5. Maybe we went for sponsors or to try and notch up another win for the team. After a good 10hr drive over two days, we arrived in Austria to see dreadful weather. The morale took a bit of a dive after being spoilt with 35 degree-plus days everyday for a fortnight.
The game plan was set and everyone knew what they were doing, the team definitely wanted a win. Marlon Perez, however, launched up the road solo after 2km. He just showed how powerful he can be by holding the bunch off for 170km (and we weren't hanging around) but eventually dying 20km out. I found myself in a break and got the opportunity to sit on while Marlon was up the road. That was until Illiano came across in a group and I had to drive the split to make sure the break stayed away. Illiano finished fourth and Phil Schneider top 10, I think. Not a bad day for the team.
Then it was another 10 hours in the car, but this time straight through, no stops. A sleep-in after a late night and it was time to turn the wick up. Straight off the bat after Austria Russ and I headed out for a four hour ride. We wanted to try some new roads and headed out a different way to normal. After 80km we stopped for a brew and decided to head home, thinking that we weren't that far. With the mountains on the right of us, I figured it wasn't rocket science and we could just cut back through to the bottom of the bergs where we live. Unfortunately, Italy is not like Belgium and not every road goes somewhere. Every decent road that we decided to take just turned into a dead end. The first few times this happened it was funny, but by the time the caffeine from the brews wore off I was starting to show signs of cracking like never before. In the end, after four or five attempts of cutting across, we cut our losses and virtually went back to the same place where we were earlier and went the long way home. We strolled in the door at 7pm after being out for over eight hours (including park up time) and 210km.
To say I was shabby the next two days is an understatement, but I knocked out another two five hour days back-to-back. After the previous four days, I can not remember the last time my legs were so sore - even Luca the soigneur said he'd never rubbed my legs when they're this bad, not even in the Giro.
After another hard day was thrown in with a couple a recovery days, I rode my first ever Grand Fondo. The boys went to Slovakia to race but I couldn't go as I need a visa (apparently, from 1st May you don't need one any more but that news came a bit late), so I stayed back and raced a Grand Fondo, which just happened to be starting 10km down the road. The boys did have a good day in Slovakia though, with Illiano taking the victory the team wanted. Schneider was fourth with Russ top 20.
Meanwhile, back to my Grand Fondo. For people who don't know, they are races about 180km long with about 800 starters from all walks of life. The top guys are full-time bike riders, mainly ex-pro's, and then there are blokes with beards and hairy legs. It was an early start and I was on the road by 6.30am. I rode up to the start and I gotta say, I was a little bit geed. There were two pro's on the start list, but Barbero from Lampre didn't show so I was the sole pro.
It was pretty funny looking back from the front grid to see 800 riders behind you. Even funnier when I was two kms into the race and there are girls racing beside me. It wasn't long though, till it split down to 20 riders and we hit the bergs. Literally, there was not one metre of flat road in this race. Three guys took off and I opted to kick back with the other riders, staying out the way of their race (these guys take it pretty seriously and I was along for the training ride). Then we hit a 20km climb and I changed my mind and got involved anyway. A young U23 rider attacked and I went with him till I took over and rode with him in tow all the way to the top. I actually had really good legs and brought the breakaway riders back from four mins to one min. On the descent, the two off us nudged it and we were bringing the guys back till the motor bike took us 6km off course, the wrong way. I was ropeable; by the time we got back to the circuit, I was in the 13min group with the hairy legged, bearded guys. It was only a training race for me, but the prize money would've come in handy.
That night I did a pro crit in the same town for charity and some start money in the pocket. It was an all-day epic on the bike, or at least in the kit! It was a touch under 250km for the day, and a 1000km for the week.
Brixia Tour - 2.3, Italy, July 23-25, 2004
The next week I backed the training off a bit to freshen up for Brixia Tour, a three-day stage race in Brescia. I definitely didn't freshen up enough or something because I was creepin' like never before, and for the first time in my career, I missed the time cut. I couldn't believe how bad I was traveling on the bike. The first day I was in a group that lost 22mins, but fortunately for us we did 15km less than everyone else. Our group was a few minutes behind the peloton at the time and for the second time in a week, the motor bike took us the wrong way. We hit the last climb 10mins ahead of the front group. The officials later adjusted our time and put us back in the race.
The next day after a month of 30 degree heat, it decided to rain, or more of a downpour. It was a double stage day, with the morning stage finishing up a 12km climb. I got popped off the bunch and was stuck between two groups. The one in front I couldn't catch and the one behind stopped. I rode to the finish solo, with no lead car or motorbikes. I was in the traffic obeying red lights. I was already cracked in the head by this stage and all I needed was to climb a 12km climb in the rain and cold. This was the lowest point in my five-year European career. I hated everything to do with the sport. I finished and luckily missed the time cut. I say luckily, because I was obviously creepin and needed a rest; starting the next stage was not going to do me any favours. The director agreed that even if I made the cut, I wasn't starting the next stage.
I eventually got over it and still love everything about the sport, but for a good two or three hours I didn't talk to anyone and was a bit temperamental. That day is really etched in the back of my memory.
The next day Russ and I headed to Belg and Holland for the post tour crits, but there's too many stories to fit it in this diary entry, so I'll let you know some of them next week.