Athens, GA, USA, May 11, 2006
I remember back to January when I had a break after the nationals and Bay crits before building back up on the kilometres ahead of arriving in the States. Everyone was asking what I was doing. I gave them a just relax, it's January, I want to be going well in April response. Well, April has arrived and past before you know it. Thats not a bad thing; Im happy enough with the way things went and I did everything right in the build up to one of my major goals for the season, the Tour de Georgia.
I did my big month block of kilometres in Jan/Feb and arrived in the US going reasonably well. That, combined with a lot of racing my form came up well and I think I couldnt have gone into the tour feeling anything but confident. What I meant by my previous comments is now that April's over, what do I look at next as a major objective? For me itll be Philly week and Tour de Beauce in June. Sure Ill be going into every other race motivated but theyre the next two races I want to aim for.
So Tour de Georgia turned out to be alright, but not brilliant. I was really aiming to shock a few during the week. I finished 20th overall and three times in the top 20 in stage finishers which is good, but like I said, I was looking for something special.
The first two stages were long road stages finishing with short hilly local laps, both ending in bunch kicks. The first day we had Neill Shirley in the break for 90km and coming into the finish I attacked on the last climb of the last lap. I got brought back before getting caught up in a crash on the last corner. The second day I finished 14th in a sprint that was more of a drag race over the last climb, round two corners and to the finish. They split the bunch (and so they should) but changed it back to bunch time after so many complaints. So some old mate that was in 70th position still climbing the hill as were finishing gets the same time...right!
The reason I needed those extra seconds is that the third day was a 40km TT. Anyone that knows me knows Im not a huge fan of these. It was hilly circuit with some technical sections, so it wasnt as bad as it normally would be for me. I rode within myself to finish 41st, and couldnt be too disappointed. I did what I wanted and limited my losses.
The next two days we hit the mountains and also the bad weather. The first day ended up in a 50-up bunch kick after the group split to bits over the last climb but there was still 30km to the finish. The second of the two days finished up the infamous Brasstown after two solid climbs earlier in the day. Brasstown was the only climb I hadnt seen because when Hoppy and I did our three day training block in the mountains we left it to the last, when our legs were smashed. We went to the coffee shop instead, although we still had 150km in the legs. Anyway, its one steep climb and is as hard as they say. I finished 20th in the stage and that moved me to 20th on GC.
The last day was suppose to be a flatish roll into the finishing circuits. It was anything but flat and if you had a bad day, you wouldve felt every kilometre of it. The circuits were controlled, the early break brought back and it was a bunch kick. Tour over and it was off to have a few quiet ones at the after party.
The other good thing about this week was, it was a great chance to catch up with mates from European team, Aussie and non-Aussie. It was great for the morale to have a few beers to unwind every night with Nick Gates, Henk Vogels and Sean Sullivan. I almost forgot how funny it was to be rolling along during quieter times in the bunch sharing stories with Gatesy.
The last three days of the tour was when our team also threw a publicity stunt by changing our team kit to orange camo. It got a few mentions and actually looked pretty cool.
Since Georgia I have just been kick'n back at home in Nashville. The legs were nailed for the first four days after the tour and I spent a lot of couch time in between coffee shop rides and a round of golf. I was happy to hear this arvo that all the riders that rode Georgia have sore legs too and have also struggled to get off the lounge.
Next time I'll let you know how things went iat the Athens Twilight criterium as well as the rest of the US crits; six criteriums in eight days, then back to Nashie for two weeks before hitting the road again. See you then.