Hello from Livigno. As some riders get ready for the Tour de France or target the national championships this weekend, I'm up here in the mountains preparing for the second half of my season.
You might be surprised that I'm not going to defend my Italian tricolore jersey on Sunday but the course in Italy for this year's race is far too tough for me. It's for Ardennes classics riders like Nibali, Visconti and even someone like Ricco, so there was no point in trying to hold my form after the Giro.
I'm actually at the start of phase two of my season. My big goal is the world championship road race in Melbourne under the management of new national coach Paolo Bettini. Before that I'll probably ride the Tour of Austria, the Tour de Wallonie, the Clasica San Sebastian, Hamburg and then the Vuelta.
I had 12 days off the bike after finishing the Giro d'Italia and to be honest I loved every minute of it. I went on holiday and spent time on the beach with my family before spending some time in Monte Carlo.
I know 12 days off the bike mid-season might seem a lot but I needed it. I'm not a robot and need my time to recover, so that I can be fresh for other key objectives. I started training in November and started racing in Argentina in January.
I had a heavy spring and struggled on through illness as far as the Amstel Gold Race as well. I then got back on form for the Giro and made it all the way to end in Verona. I deserved a good break after that but I'm already back to doing four hour rides and a bit of specific work.
Neck on the line
I'm sure you noticed that I've signed a new deal with the Katusha team for 2011. It's only a one-year deal because that's what I wanted. I haven't got many great results this year but I'm not afraid to put my balls on the line and take a risk. My new contract is based more on results and I'll earn more than I did this year if I win the races I know I can win.
I thrashed the deal out with Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil during a five-hour meeting at the weekend. I had other offers, even financially better offers, but I feel like the Katusha team is my team and that we've grown and matured together since the team was created in 2009. Tchmil has got some serious plans for the future. He wants to sign a stage race leader and other key domestiques who can help me and the team in 2011.
We celebrated inking the deal with champagne and while Andrei and I are very different, we actually understand each other and get on really well. He was a tough classics rider and thinks I'm a bit too friendly with my rivals but we're both ambitious and serious when it comes to cycling.
Leave Cav alone
While I had some time off I didn’t want to know about what was happening in the world of cycling. You can understand that, can't you? But since I got back into training I quickly got up to date and a lot of people told me to look at the YouTube video of the crash at the Tour de Suisse. I've now watched it a few times and I have to say I think that Cav does not deserve all the blame he's been getting. And the protest the day after was a bit of a joke.
In the video you can see that Cav moved across the road but then Haussler hooked him instead of bouncing off him. That makes it as much as Haussler's fault as Cav's fault.
The truth is that a lot of contact, pushing and fighting for wheels goes on in every sprints. The real problem is that there are always rider up there in the sprints who shouldn't be there. They just get in the way and cause problems for the riders who know how to handle the sprints. I'm sorry that Coyot fractured his shoulder but he just shouldn't have been there.
I was also sorry to hear about Kim Kirchen's sudden problems. The team told us all that he's now out of a coma and gradually recovering. Fortunately the doctors managed to save his life and I hope he can make a full recovery and enjoy the birth of his twins that are due any day now. All the best Kim!
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