The season starts in Italy; the Gunn-Rita Dahle diary

It's great to be on the go again with a new season of cycling. The menu for first race of the year...

It's great to be on the go again with a new season of cycling. The menu for first race of the year included lots of mud and freezing cold weather, but even so it was wonderful to take part in the Italian winter championships in cross country today. I won the race, here in the town of Volpago del Montello, just outside Treviso - a very positive start to the season. The result is very encouraging and shows that we've been working correctly through the winter and are headed in the right direction.

It's been raining hard all night, and it was bucketing down as we stood lined up at the start of the race, so we didn't have to spend long deciding what tyres to use today. Maxxis Medusa 1.8 mud tyres are very trustworthy in such conditions, but braking, however, is a different story on days like this. I had to make some adjustments along the way, but managed to stay on my bike most of the time. However, on the last lap there wasn't much rubber left on my brake pads. Today I should definitely have used disc brakes instead. So it was a somewhat uncontrolled Gunn-Rita on the way in to the finish, but I had no major crashes.

We were already in the north of Italy (Montebelluna, 50 miles from Venice) on Friday afternoon and both thought it was great being back here again. Italy is one of our very favourite countries, and it's really nice to be spending a good two weeks here. The final week on Mallorca gave us mostly good weather for training, and we were able to have many effective and important exercise sessions before we left. We can look back on three good and enjoyable weeks at Hotel Sol Antillas in Megaluf, with lots of great help from the Phillips Bike Team. I've written this before, but am glad to mention it once again. If you would like to take a wonderful and exciting holiday combined with biking activities, this is the best place you can go.

Read the entire Gunn-Rita Dahle diary here

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