Friday, August 17, 2012

Modus Operandi and New Signings

Over the years of riding, I have come up with a theory. Since first getting somewhat "serious" about riding back in 1994, and every year from then, each season I put my theory to the test and it has proved correct. During each season, I have 5 and only 5 days, where I feel on top of my form. They are not 5 consecutive days, but instead, these 5 days are peppered through my season, which usually run from November through late August.
I have no way to tell when one of the 5 days will happen. A week (or two) of feeling like crap while riding, usually leads to one day of feeling great. If for some reason I get sick, the second day after I ride is usually another great day. Early May has also one day thrown in there. Maybe that's why I have had a good run at Coldspring (2nd, 3rd and 4th). But the pattern doesn't manifest on a consistent basis from year to year (except the one in May). So I wonder how pro riders peak for grand tours or manage to put together a string of good days on the bike for three weeks. That's why three week tour are appealing to me to follow. Not just the chess game that is played on the roads daily, but how a rider and his team maintain a mental focus for an extended period of time.
And maybe that's the key: a mental focus. One thing that the older I get is getting easier to understand is that I'm stronger mentally, although I still get into this mental fog at times when I race (case in point the fourth stage of the Vuelta Masters this year). With all things cycling, the more you work at it, the better it gets. Oh, and taking a month off the bike is a requisite of mine. It's getting time to find the running shoes and begin to log the miles, but on a different sport. The bike now becomes a cross training tool. Until February.
Pro Team Astana
On the pro side of things, Pro Team Astana is waving the check book left, right and center. Nibali, Fulsang, and Guardini are three strong signatures to have for the next two to three years. I have always like Nibali. Doesn't talk much and rides with what the italians call "grinta", something that is becoming lost in the world of pro cycling these days. It would be great to be on a motorcycle or driving the Vittoria neutral support car and follow the "shark of the strait" on a Dolomite descend. The guy is just art. Fulsang has played second fiddle at Saxo Bank and Leopard for the last few seasons. Although talented, he hasn't had the chance to showcase his true talents (albeit on smaller races) and with the move to the Kazakhastani team(with a large italian influence), he should have the freedom he seeks. Probably the Vuelta next year will have the entire team at his disposal. Tough to see him lead the squad at the Giro (Nibali), and the Tour (eithe Nibali or Brackovijc). Guardini is fast, period. But like me, he seems to have the 5 day theory in his repertoire. IMHO, Pro Team Astana can't afford to build a leadout train for the italian youngster who is taking a step into the big leagues. Sure winning in Langkawi (lots!!) is fun, but now he'll face the tough guys of the sprints.
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
Bjarne Riss went through some stressful times early in the year (and that's to put it mildly), but the return to Contador, the signing of Tinkoff Bank as a sponsor and some gutsy rides here and there (see Chris Anker Sorensen at the Tour), the team has kept its name on the headlines, for the right reasons. Riss has signed a few riders for next year but the canny Dane has kept the releasing of the names a close guarded secret. Perhaps a return of Spartacus to his former squad? You shall speculate amongst yourselves.

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