Merry Christmas and happy holidays wherever you are and what ever you are doing. I hope it's a good one with plenty of cheer.
I'm spending the holidays with my parents in Italy in my hometown of Sandrigo near Vicenza. After some serious blocks of training in the last few weeks, it's time for a few easy days, a few drinks and some definite non-cycling food. There's plenty of time during the rest of the season to make up any missing kilometres, do a few extra intervals and eat a little less. Lets enjoy it while we can!
If you live in Europe I'm sure you've been fighting the terrible weather. Oh for the good times when we could ride in shorts and an open jersey!
I've probably avoided the worst of it but it's still been difficult to get in enough quality training. I think I'm about a week behind schedule but I'm not getting stressed out about it. That's not my style anyway and it certainly doesn't resolve anything.
One of the reasons I live in Monaco is for the weather and I try to avoid training in the rain if I can. Perhaps I'm not as hard as Andrei Tchmil, my boss at Katusha, or the Belgians and Scandinavian riders but fortunately I don’t need to be. I've no problem going out in the rain when I'm in Belgium and it's three days before the Tour of Flanders, but if I've got a choice I'd rather miss a day's training that get a soaking or freezing for five hours and then come down with a cold and spend much longer off the bike. It seems pretty logical to me.
The weather's pretty bad in Italy so I've come up with an ingenious idea to keep rolling. I'm happy to let the Belgians play around at cyclo-cross, they seem to like the mud and the cold. I prefer to keep warm and dry and so I'm going to ride on the new covered track in Montechiari near Brescia, for a few days.
Along with my new teammate Luca Paolini, I'm planning to do about three hours a day, with perhaps some speed work behind the derny and some sprints. I rode on the track a lot as a schoolboy and junior and it will help keep my leg speed and keep me ticking over until the second Katusha training camp in the New Year.
The camp will be in Calpe again but we might head somewhere warm for a few days before then and even mix in a stay at altitude. We're looking at Tenerife or even Cyprus, which is not as warm but looks like a good place to get in a solid block of training.
My 2011 season starts in Qatar
I'm going to kick off my 2011 season at the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman again. It's worked pretty well in the last few years and is a great way to build on the base fitness. I don't have to fight for the sprints and echelons every day and I'm not under pressure to win, so can carefully do almost three weeks of quality work. I spoke to Eddy Merckx recently, who organises Oman and he told me that this year's route is a bit hillier. We'll hopefully be staying in the same luxury resort on the beach, too. That's not a bad place to spend ten days in mid-February is it?
After that my season will follow the usual roads. I'm going to ride Omloop whatever they call it now, the Giro del Friuli in Italy, the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, De Panne, Flanders and then Roubaix.
I'm really looking forward to the spring. I think it should be a really good showdown in the Classics. There are several teams who will be fighting it out for success and the rider transfers during the winter have changed the balance of power in the peloton. Garmin-Cervelo is the super team on paper but BMC is also looking good. Me, Leif Hoste and Luca Paolini are a good trio, Boonen seems back to his best at Quick Step and then there is the new Luxembourg team. It'll be interesting to see if they live up to all the hype.
Bring on the New Year and the new season!