Longsjo Tour of Fitchburg, June 29-July 2, 2006
Hi everybody, were back from a successful stint in Massachusetts at the Longsjo Tour of Fitchburg so heres the round down of the last week .
After a tuff tour in Canada I had a week of recovery and training to keep the form running for Fitchburg. My form seems to be good at the moment, I was pretty lucky after my five week lay off with my Achilles to come across a good trainer by the name of Marc Lamberts. In a short amount of time he got me going again back in Belgium and continues to keeping me going over here. So thanks Marc for getting me back up to scratch.
The training here in New Jersey is pretty good and really refreshing, there are forests everywhere and many lakes to ride around! It's always handy having roads you enjoy riding on! The people here are pretty friendly too. While kicking back at the local Starbucks people would pull up to ask where were headed or where weve been and once they hear my accent people ask, "Where are you from?" When I told one poor lad that I was from Aus he said "Oh man thats like down under, right?" I said, "Yeah sure is," and he finished off by saying, and they speak English there??" Okay... fair enough. The Jersey accent is pretty cool too, among the locals you will come across people who sound like they should be in the Sopranos or Goodfellas!
So we up and left for Fitchburg after a week of half-sunshine and half-lots-and-lots-of-rain, not the best preparation but not a big problem! A four hour drive north finally saw us arrive at our hotel for the four-day tour. And once again I was able to catch up with a bunch of Aussies from the SA.com squad.
Just a quick fact for ya. The race is named after Art Longsjo, the first person ever to compete in both winter and summer Olympics in the same year! Wow, I can hear you say!! ;)
Stage 1 - 10 km time trial
My form was good so I was really keen to give this stage a good nudge! It was held on a rolling course which suited me even more. The riders went of at 30 second intervals. I was scheduled to leave midway through the field (or so I thought). Unbeknownst to me my start time had changed, just before I started to warm up I re-checked my start time and it was still the same. It wasnt till Sergey got a phone call from Pete the mechanic who was down at the start line telling him that my start time had already gone! What the???? I had been moved from the 50th rider to leave to the third? Ah well, I got to the start and just had to keep going. All focus was gone but I powered along and posted a good time on my stop watch but had to add the 2 and a half minutes that I lost at the start, which didnt make my time look any prettier! My time was at least 20 seconds faster than the winners time and I reckon our team was strong enough to lead from beginning to end, but as a man once said, such is life. A win for me went begging but, "she'll be right mate."
Stage 2 - 125 km circuit race
25 laps around a five kilometre circuit. Three of my team-mates were in the top ten so it was a matter of trying to get them up the road in a break and try and get some time back. It was a pretty fast circuit with a small 300-metre climb into the finish every lap which meant that every lap there was a sprint into the corner that led to the climb. After numerous moves and attacks the field was still together coming into the last lap. Shawn was feeling good so Bernard, Vasilli and I got to the front to set up Shawn for the finish. We kept the pace high and Vasilli managed to get him round the last corner in front. He put his head down and went as hard as he could up the hill one last time. Shawn later said that he thought he would just go full gas and if anyone came past so be it! Well no one did and he took the stage in fine style!
Stage 3 - 164 km road stage
Ten laps around a 16-kilometre hilly circuit with a final four-kilometre climb. Once again it was up to us to attack and be aggressive; every lap we had some short sharp climbs that led up to a longer one-kilometre climb. The first time up a split had already formed, which held for a number of kilometres but had a couple of teams missing and wasnt gonna stick. But this showed that it wasnt gonna take long before it happened again up the climbs. And so it was; the next time up the main climb and a break of 22 had formed with myself, Phil and Shawn in it. The pace was kept high for the next lap and we slowly pulled away. The gap blew out to over seven minutes so the three of us could settle down a bit and save our legs for the final couple of laps. On the third-last lap I rolled off the front and became a human carrot for the other teams to chase and wear them selves down. Phil and Shawn were both placed good on GC so it was up to me to try and give them a nice comfy ride out of the wind while the other donkeys chased the carrot. It worked well as even though I was two minutes down on the overall everyone in the break chased me. After two laps out in front and with about six kilometres to go I was finally caught so Shawn attacked off the front. By now the 22 riders had become about ten and they were all getting tired from the chase. Shawn immediately got a gap of over 30 seconds and kept it going till it was out over a minute. By now my fuel lights were on and the reserve tank was running dry. Job done though, so no probs for me! Shawn hit the climb and stayed away winning by 20 or 30 seconds. Phil also lit it up on the climb but not too much to pull Shawn back and finished second. Shawn was now in the leaders jersey and Phil was third overall.
Stage 4 - 80 km criterium
55 laps around an inner-city Fitchburg circuit. The tactics were to ride a good tempo on the front with both Shawn and Phil looking after themselves by sitting behind the five of us. All they had to do was stay out of the wind and if any threats to their overall position tried to attack then they were to give chase. Also, we were hoping to let a small non-dangerous break up the road, which would take a bit of pressure off us as the bunch could settle down and we wouldnt have to jump around after attacks that actually were threats. Eventually a break finally went away with nothing dangerous in it, but this wasnt till well after halfway so you can imagine how fast and furious it was out there. The break never really worked well together and was caught with a couple of laps to go. One rider from the Toyota team decided to sprint for the finish a lap early and even threw his hands up in the air! Nice one mate! One lap to go and our job was done, Shawn was fresh enough to stay up front and even have a dabble in the sprint, a rider threw himself off with a couple of hundred meters to go and lucky for Shawn he opted for going left instead of right while a couple of lads went right and came down. Shawn came fifth in the stage, which was a fine performance from him. This was his home state tour as he only lives 50 miles from Fitchburg in Boston. Two stage wins and the leaders jersey in front of all his family and friends was a finish any rider would be stoked with. Nice job mate!
Next up is a tour over on the west coast in Oregon, The Cascade Cycle Classic- five days long with a fair few mountain top finishes. A bit of ride at altitude. Should be good! So till next time
PS Cycling tip Dont listen to all the gossip and crap you hear about riders from dodgy bike shop owners!