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6th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.3

Australia, January 20-25, 2004

Rider Diaries

Photo: © Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

The Chronicles of Thomas Lövkvist

Nationality: Swedish
Team: FDJeux.com

19 year-old Thomas Lövkvist is a new signing for the successful FDJeux.com team, and has come to Australia to race with the team for the first time. Although not inexperienced with races of the same calibre as the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, this is the first time he is starting a 2.3 category race as a part of a first division team.

Stage 6: Sunday Jan 26, Adelaide City Council circuit, 81 km

A hard, fast finish

Photo: © J-F Quenet
Click for larger image

Today was hard. The whole stage was fast. The average was 47 kph. Yea, that is pretty fast. In the beginning I was up there and rode at the front, and tried to follow with a few breaks. My legs were hurting pretty bad in the morning, but as I got going they got better. I thought that maybe I wasn't that bad, but after a while I realised that I was.

After a few turns at the front, the speed got very high, and I couldn't really stay at the front. After that point, I could only grit my teeth together and fight to hang on. In total, my team had a really good race. Baden won the stage today, and also claimed the third position on the GC, ahead of Philippe Gilbert who was fourth on the GC. Matthew won the prize as the most aggressive rider and Gilbert won the U23 classification. I had a feeling this morning that Cooke would do something in the race, because he looked very focused.

Our job in the team was to get him in place for the sprint, and we stepped into the action with three laps to go. It was Nicolas Vogondy and I who were supposed to do a lot of the work up front. It was the first lead out I have done as a pro, so I guess that takes one more thing of my 'to do' list. The team had explained the idea of it to me briefly, like what kind of action they were expecting from me in different situations, but I'm glad that I got to do it once in this race, for the sake of experience.

I rode at the front up over the last passage of the climb, and hanged on over it, but after that I pretty much had to call it a day. My legs were hurting badly, and some Bankgiroloterij riders came up to the front, and after that I don't really know what happened.

I kept my second place in the U23 classification. The winner was my teammate Gilbert, so that was ok. The guy behind me was pretty close before this stage, but he didn't finish today's stage, so I sat pretty secure where I was. The guy behind me was almost half an hour down on me.

In all, I think this race has been a very good learning experience and I've had a good time. I have learned heaps of things, and it is very different from racing with the amateurs, that's for sure. It looks like I have found myself a very good job for the future. I enjoy it. Then again, I'm sure this race is more relaxed than other professional races. I'm just curious to find out how much more relaxed it is. How big is the step to the really hard pro races?

I'll fly back to France tomorrow for a team presentation, and then back to Sweden on Thursday. I haven't got my program for the spring season yet, we'll figure that out when I get to France. I'm not supposed to win any races or do any big deeds this year. It is more of a learning experience for me so that one day in the future, I could become a good rider. I think FDJeux is a good team in the way they look at the riders well-being. I'm supposed to have an easy year, and if they find me suffering in the middle of the season, I'm supposed to be able to take a step back and get some recovery.

During this season, I'll keep you regularly updated on what's going on with me and my racing. Make sure to have a look at my diary every now and then.

See you,


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