The bitter and the sweet

Kenny tells tales of Turkey, training and a July without the Tour

Black. One sugar. I love my coffee. Two or three cups in the morning or the day just isn't going to happen.

Last month, I tried some Turkish style coffee for the first time. Strong stuff - a little too strong - even for a caffeine addict like me. The cup I had in Istanbul summed up my week at the Tour of Turkey: Bittersweet.

As always, the sweet bits are why I love my job. Beautiful country, fantastic weather and a couple of decent results. On the flip-side, I struggled a lot in the first few days of the race with a stomach bug and then, two stages before the finish, ended up leaving a little bit of my skin on the Turkish roads.

But hey, that's racing - swings and roundabouts, as they say. At least the Tour ended on a positive note for me. I'd taken a third place result on the fifth stage before crashing two days later in the finale of stage seven.

As most of you will know, its tricky sleeping when you've acquired the dreaded road rash and that goes double when you're in the middle of a race. I woke up on the last day of the tour having barely slept the night before, but I was motivated by the fact that I'd be home the next day, so I decided to give it everything I had.

I don't know whether it was the adrenaline or the thoughts of home, but I pulled off a pretty good sprint in the end. Unfortunately, there were two guys quicker on the day, André Greipel and Angelo Furlan. Still, third place with one leg wrapped in bandages isn't too bad. And at least I was on the way home...or so I thought.

You've all read the stories about the effects of the Icelandic volcano. It's amazing how within an instant you can suddenly be so much further from home. In my case, around 28.5 hours further. A couple of teams decided to wait it out in Istanbul, but we decided to get moving. Instead of a straightforward three-and-a-half hour flight back to the Netherlands, we flew across to Barcelona and then caught a bus home from there. Bus or bike? Bike, everytime.

You can't do much about the weather, nor volcanos, as it turns out. Still, a 32-hour journey home isn't the best way of recovering from a tough eight stage tour. Needless to say I was feeling a little bit sluggish for a couple of days after finally arriving back home.

Unlike last year, we didn't have the Four days of Dunkirk on our race programme for this season. That left a week's gap, which is not what you want at this stage of the season when all your rivals will be benefiting from the speed and intensity of racing. So instead, a bunch of guys from our Skil-Shimano team spent last week at a training camp in Limburg.

We did some really long, hard sessions, including a seven-hour ride in the middle of the week. I'm really pleased with how the camp went because I've come out of it with a really good feeling - something I needed after Turkey. Robert Wagner, Robin Chaineau and I did some really good sprint work towards the end of the training camp and it's been a great boost to our confidence and motivation for our next block of racing.

This next block of racing is really important for me. I started winning races at this point last season and I've been building towards the same thing for this year. Unfortunately, as we found out in March, we don't have the Tour de France to look forward to, but you've got to play with the hand you're dealt. Without the Tour, I've planned a busy programme up to June and I'll probably take a short vacation in July.

We're hoping the Vuelta's organisers will have an invite for us this season. I've spoken to team management about it, so if it works out hopefully I'll have a chance of getting another Grand Tour start. Obviously, we're not racing the Giro, but it's been impossible not to be glued to the race with it starting in my home country.

Those first two road stages were absolutely crazy, so many crashes. I understand that it's the Giro, and they always want it to be a spectacle, but I was pretty shocked to see the finish to stage three - a corner 250 metres from the line and on such narrow roads. It would be much safer to have a sprint finish on a wider, open road, like at the Tour.

That said, I'm ready to take a win on any road. The form's there, so fingers crossed. Before I go, I'm in the process of giving my website (www.kennyvanhummel.com) a bit of a facelift at the moment, it'll be finished by the end of this month, so feel free to check it out. But keep you're eyes on Cyclingnews, I'm hoping my name will be topping one of the result sheets soon.

Now, where did I put my coffee cup...

Kenny

Back to top