Season 2013 – From Dominican Republic to Japan – It’s a start!

Did I find a cheaper way to Japan? ©Cory Wallace  - www.fortheplanet.net

Did I find a cheaper way to Japan? ©Cory Wallace – www.fortheplanet.net

After a good 2012 season, racing mostly criterium in the USA, I dediced to make it bigger and I will continue part time with the same structure captained by Emile Abraham and another one in Japan directed by Sebastien Pilotte; Positivi Peugeot cycling team!

Après une bonne saison 2012, à courir principalement des critériums aux USA, j’ai décidé de faire les choses en grand et ainsi, je vais continuer avec la même structure dirigée par Emile Abraham; Predator Cycling en plus d’une autre au Japon dirigée par le québécois Sébastien Pilotte établi au Japon; Positivi Peugeot cycling team!

I started 2013 with the Vuelta Independencia in Dominican Republic. Its my 4th participation in the event so I knew what to expect from it.

J’ai débuté 2013 avec la Vuelta Independencia en République Dominicaine. Il s’agit de ma quatrième participation, alors je savais à quoi m’en tenir.

I prepared as best as I could on the Computrainer and doing cross country skiing workouts, but it is always hard to replicate road trainning in the winter in Quebec city!

Je me suis préparé aussi bien que je l’ai pu en m’entraînant sur Computrainer et en ski de fond, mais c’est toujours un peu difficile de répliquer l’entraînement spécifique de route en hiver au Québec!

I flew to the Dominican Republic on the 14th, so I could at least do one long road ride before the vuelta began on the 20th. Getting to Dominica was a bit of chaos as most guys on the team booked their flight with Jetblue which doesn’t accept bikes only for Dom Rep! Last minute, I had to bring 2 additional bikes with me. Adding to that, my own last minute arrangments, I did not have time to sleep and so was very tired when I finally arrived where I was greeted by Guillermo Juan of Samana Backpackers where I enjoyed the few days before the Vuelta.

J’ai volé vers Saint-Domingue le 14 février, afin de pouvoir réaliser une longue sortie sur route avec le début de la vuelta le 20. Me rendre en République fut un peu compliqué… La plupart des coureurs de l’équipe avaient réserver avec Jetblue et on apprit à la dernière minute que la compagnie n’acceptait pas les vélos à destination de République Dominicaine. J’ai donc du partir avec 2 vélos supplémentaires. Ajoutons à cela mes propres arrangements de dernière minute et je n’ai pu dormir du tout avant mon vol du matin. Je suis donc arrivé quelques peu fatigué à Samana, où j’ai été accueilli par Guillermo Juan de Samana Backpackers où j’allais passé les quelques jours d’entraînement avant la vuelta.

Etappa7 ©Luis Barbosa

Etappa7 ©Luis Barbosa

My preparation for the Vuelta then consisted of a short 2h road ride on the 15th followed by a solid 4h30 the next day and then recovery rides up to the start of the race. I got my team predator bike the day before the race. I was amazed by it! Predator Cycling specialise in carbon repair. So, I will be racing a Kuota Kom with Di2 shifting and FSA components, a bike previously used by Hilton Clarke. Will I be as fast ? After 8 days of racing, all I can say is it’s a fantastic bike!

Ma préparation pour la vuelta a donc consisté en une petite sortie de 2h le 15 suivi d’un solide 4h30 le jour suivant et des sorties de récupérations jusqu’à ce que la vuelta commence. J’ai reçu mon vélo d’équipe le jour précédent la course. J’ai été tout à fait émerveillé. Predator Cycling se spécialise dans la réparation de vélo carbone. Je courerai donc aux USA sur l’ancien vélo d’Hilton Clarke, un Kuota Kom, réparé et remis à neuf, équipé en shimano Di2 et composantes FSA. Une vraie machine !

Predator Cycling Kuota ©Cory Wallace  - www.fortheplanet.net

Predator Cycling Kuota ©Cory Wallace – www.fortheplanet.net

The Vuelta was a good preparation for the season. 8 days of fast racing, 1000km with flat and mountainous terrain. We raced under Ekoi.ca / 1% for the Planet colours and the team consisted of myself, Cory Wallace, Etienne Samson, Louis-Charles Lacroix, Adam Andersen and Jordan Brochu.

La Vuelta constitue la préparation idéale pour entamer la saison. 8 jour de courses rythmées, 1000km de plat et terrain montagneux. Nous avons couru sous les couleurs d’ Ekoi.ca / 1% for the Planet et l’équipe consistait de moi même, Cory Wallace, Etienne Samson, Louis-Charles Lacroix, Adam Andersen et Jordan Brochu.

We missed out on stage 1 as the main breakaway went after only 5km into the 146km race. In the end we lost 11min and all GC hopes. Anyway, the first stage was still tough for us as we tried hard to establish a counter attack to limit the time losses. As the vuelta continued, our form was also improving. On stage 5, I got myself in a breakaway before we hit the real mountains. Tough that I did not push myself very hard to follow the leaders when they passed me in fear of bonking later, but maybe I should have, as I completed the whole race alone without getting caught by a single rider.

Nous avons manqué de chance à la première étape alors que LA bonne échappée est partie après seulement 5km de course sur la première étape de 146km. Au final, je perd plus de 11min et toute chance de classement général. Quoi qu’il en soit, cette première étape aura été difficile puisque je n’ai pas ménagé mes efforts afin d’établir un groupe de contre pour limiter les écarts. Nous n’avions aucun splits de temps durant la course… Plus les étapes évoluait, plus je me sentais en jambe. Lors de l’étape 5, je me suis retrouvé dans le premier groupe au pied de l’ascension. Je n’ai pas poussé lorsque les leaders m’ont passés, par peur d’exploser plus tard, mais peut-être aurais-je du puisque j’ai par la suite complété toute l’étape solo sans me faire reprendre par un seul coureur.

Etappa6b ©Luis Barbosa

Etappa6b ©Luis Barbosa

The next day, I did a good time trial averaging 47,5km/h on my first lap and fading a little on the second lap to finish 10th, a minute and 11 sec behind the winner Bruno Langlois, not bad for someone who trained inside and skiing in Quebec.

Le lendemain, j’ai fait un bon contre-la-montre complétant le premier tour en 47,5km/h de moyenne. J’ai faiblit lors du deuxième tour pour finalement terminer à 1min11 de Bruno Langlois en 10ème position. Plutôt satisfaisant pour l’entraînement hivernal.

On stage 7, the next day, I was feeling even better and made the early breakaway of 6 after only 10km of racing. We averaged 48km/h in the first hour of racing before the peloton let us increase our gap more signigicantly. By mid race, some GC riders bridged up to us to make it a group of around 10. Meanwhile, some riders from the early break were fading off. A little while later, a crash happened in the group and we got down to 5 riders of which two were strong riders from Inteja; Diego Milan and Augusto Sanchez. In the end, I played my cards right except for the final sprint in which I led into the last corner but first to get passed by the lead out of Augusto Sanchez, to finish just outside the podium in 4th.

Lors de l’étape 7, le jour suivant, je me sentais encore mieux et j’ai décidé de joindre l’échappée du début après seulement 10km de course. Nous éti.ons 6 et le rythme était assez rapide à en témoigner la moyenne de 48km/h pour la première heure. À la mi-course, quelques coureurs nous ont rejoint alors que d’autres ont faiblit et rejoint le peloton. Quelques instants plus tard, une chute réduisit notre groupe à 5 coureurs, emportant Pablo Mudarra virtuel 2ème du général, alors que notre avance était de 3min30. En somme, j’ai bien joué mes cartes tout au long de la course, à l’exception du sprint final, lequel comportait un virage dangereux que j’ai entammé en premier pour me voir dépassé immédiatement par Augusto Sanchez qui lança le sprint pour son coéquipier Diego Milan. Je termine donc au pied du podium.

After the last race in Santo Domingo, I headed to Samana Backpackers again to rest a bit in Samana and explore some of the area. I am now heading to Tucson where I will be racing March with Team Predator before heading to Japan in early April for solid races in Asia. Funny fact, I’ve started learning Japanese with audio courses and it’s easier than I thought!

Après la course, je me suis dirigé vers Samana à nouveau pour me reposer de la course et découvrir un peu les attraits de cette région. Je me dirige maintenant pour Tucson en Arizona, où je rejoindrai mes coéquipied de Team Predator pour le Old Pueblo Grand Prix et d’autres critériums aux USA par la suite. J’irai ensuite au Japon à la fin du mois pour courrir avec Positivi Peugeot cycling team. Petite annectode, j’ai commencé les cours audio de japonais et c’est pas mal plus facile qu’on pourrait le penser!

positivi

positivi

Thanks for reading ! Sayonara!

Merci de me lire ! Sayonara!

Jean-Michel

 

 

Tour de Taiwan

This is my first blog for a while and I think it comes at an appropriate time of my season. My last blog took us up to the end of our second team training camp. This point marked the end of my winter training and the beginning of my 2012 racing season. I had already spent 3-4 weeks away with my new team mates and as the start of the season drew closer, the exciting talks of racing were growing evermore common. Personally I couldn’t wait to take off the legwarmers and get stuck in.

My season started relatively quietly with a local 25 mile TT. A very cold Sunday morning in Sussex marked my first race, where I was entitled to proudly pull on my Rapha Condor Sharp skinsuit for the first time. Although the TT itself was hugely uncomfortable and not particularly quick, it felt good to lay down a definitive marker and I can now monitor my improvement as the year progresses. More importantly it meant the season had now officially started.

My first big race for the team was the UCI 2.1 classified Tour de Taiwan. But before I jetted off to the other side of the globe, I was looking to fit in a few more races to help ease the always painful transition from training to racing. I was lucky enough to be given the offer to stay up North with my team mate Rich Handley – I got to know Rich quite well after sharing a room with for the duration of our first training camp in Lanzarote. It appears I didn’t annoy him too much first time round, so he was willing to accommodate me at his home for a weekend of training and racing. Along with a few of our other team mates, we raced in the Eddie Soens Memorial and CDNW Pimbo circuit races. I was pleasantly surprised with how I felt in the season openers and picked up 6th on the Saturday and 9th on the Sunday.

Tuesday afternoon I was dropped off at Manchester Airport to meet the members of the team I was travelling to Asia with; Luke (Mellor), Andy (Tennant) and Pete (Taylor). You can always sense the disappointment of the person behind the check-in desk at the airport who has to deal with us and this time was no exception as we had quite a large entourage of baggage to stow away on the plane; 7 bike bags, 8 suitcases and 1 very lanky rider. Our flight plan would add a few more pins into the chart on my wall with the journey taking us from Manchester to Amsterdam to Bangkok and finally to Taipei.

With no apparent signs of jet lag on arrival, the few days we had before the start of the race flew by. A few short rides, lots of Starbucks coffee, birthday cake purchasing, press conferences and probably too much twitter were what filled my time. After receiving our race programme it quickly became apparent that we weren’t going to be waking up any later than 6am at any point during the race. I generally don’t have a problem with early starts and here was no different but I did find myself struggling to stay awake past 9:30 most evenings.

Stage 1 was a short, very wet 55km crit around the centre of Taipei city. The short distance, bad weather and tight corners suited my style of riding quite a lot. I was pretty nervous before the start – as John picked up on when I couldn’t stop fidgeting – as I didn’t really have any idea how I was going to compare to the highest ranked field I’d ever raced against. I was fortunate enough to be given a nice initiation into this level of racing with a fast but comfortable first stage where I picked up 4th in the bunch sprint, which was good enough for 10th on the stage. However, the following few stages weren’t as kind.

The next 3 days involved me suffering, wheel sucking and trying my best not to get dropped from the main group too early. Even after a nice first stage, in my head I knew I was going to take a bit of a kicking. Last year whilst stage racing, although I experienced some good stages I also experienced a lot of bad days where I was struggling from the start to the very end of the stage. Naturally, taking a step up from the racing I did last year I expected it to be harder, so I think not underestimating how hard it was going to be was what helped me get through those first few days. I wasn’t panicking about my performances at night and wasn’t dreading getting up for the race in the morning – quite the contrary as although I wasn’t performing as well as the rest of the team, I was still loving the racing.

After a tough 5 days and my personal goal of reaching the finish of the race nearly complete, I was given the opportunity of trying to get in the days break away. Stage 6 was my best chance, when the break was let go within the first couple of km’s. This marked for me, personally my worst day of the tour. Sitting in the bunch steadily riding along knowing I could’ve been in the break wasn’t a nice feeling and to top off a very long drawn out day, I got burnt to a crisp by the sudden heat wave shortly after the start – 35 degree sun and pale Irish skin without any suncream is a terrible combination. After the disappointment of not capitalizing on my role of getting in the early break-away on stage 6, I was determined to rectify that on stage 7 and must’ve followed over 10 attacks within the first hour but to no avail. The not too shabby average speed of 49 km/h probably had something to do with that. The end of the race was tarred with an unfortunate event. A fast technical finish looked to be the perfect end to our tour, with Deano [Dean Downing] and Ben (Grenda) both up well within the top 10 with 500m to go but some bad dangerous riding from another rider saw Ben being taken down and bouncing down the tarmac on his ass. Not a nice end to Ben’s tour, especially after his solid performances taking a 5th and a 6th.

Looking back now I am pretty satisfied that I got through the race. I loved the experience and it felt great to finally get involved in some racing after months of excitedly anticipating lining up with my new team mates. International stage racing has definitely become one of my most favourite aspects of the sport in the last few years. I relish the way the team comes together throughout the race to help each other achieve the best results possible and to get each other through the lows as well as the highs is something that I haven’t yet experienced anywhere else. Although in the Tour de Taiwan I was at times disappointed that I wasn’t able to help my team mates more, I think the experience gained there will stand be in good stead for the rest of the season.

From this moment I have quite a busy 4 weeks ahead of me. This Saturday (24th March) I’m racing for the first time since Taiwan in a short hilly circuit race in East London. I then move to my next race with the team the following Sunday – the Dengie Marsh classic premier calendar. After that I fly to Belfast for the 4 day stage race: the Tour of the North. Finally, I fly out to Holland to compete in the ZLM U23 Nations Cup event, where I will be riding my first race of 2012 for the Irish National team. A busy, but very exciting few weeks ahead and I can’t wait to get racing again.

 
 
 
 

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