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Race of the falling Gran Fondos (Season's end).

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Day one: Friday

Let me get the long boring part out of the way in one sentence: we woke up at 3:30 in the morning, drove down to Stansted, took a Ryanair flight to Venice-Treviso airport, drove to our hotel in Valmoreno and had some lunch. We couldn't decide what to eat in the hotel restaurant, so they gave us a bit of everything: It was all immensely rich, tasty and filling. Lunch was done and dusted by 3pm so it was time to assemble the bikes and go for a spin. As we were getting changed the rain started, the closer we got to our bikes the harder the rain became. We chickened out and decided not to go as by this point we were in mini monsoon territory. It's the end of the season after all, it's quite hard to get motivated for these sort of things so late in the season. As if to confirm our decision Mauro rung us up from his B&B down the road to say he wasn't going to come either (and he was going to drive behind us, which perhaps testifies to our mood and the state of the weather). We'd been up since 3:30 after all, we all had a nap instead.

Day two: Saturday

Our trip was supposed to be a kind of end of season holiday, Mauro and his wife Vicky invited friends over, some from Italy and some from the UK. The cyclists from our group assembled for a ride around the more difficult part of the course taking in a couple of the bigger climbs. The course was only going to be 127k in total, all of it twisty, narrow and rarely ever flat. The harder climbs were only a couple of kilometres long at the most but very steep. Imagine the peak district but with vineyards everywhere, extra smooth tarmac, a church or castle at the top of every hill and pretty nice weather to boot.

Later that evening (and after being over fed fantastic Italian food yet again) we received our pre race envelopes. These contained the usual fondo things such as a number for your bike, a number for your jersey and a timing chip for your ankle. It also contained an entire bottle of Prosecco for each of the 1800 participants. What with the fondo being called 'La Prosecco' and set in Italy's Prosecco producing region you might have expected this, it still seemed like an expensive extra for an organiser to put in a goody bag though. We didn't complain however. There were also supposed to be Prosecco stops along the way but this turned out not to be true, they were only handing out water and bananas, very disappointing.

Day three: Sunday, race day

In order to have a chance of getting a decent placing in one of these races you have to get to the starting grid early, with 45 minutes before the off we turned up to find about 500 people waiting in front of us. We resigned ourselves to just doing a fun training ride on closed roads instead, it was the end of the season and only supposed to be a bit of fun after all. That's what I told myself, anyway... I don't know whether it was the nessun dorma being piped through the PA, the confetti or the red baron triplane circling overhead but when we set off I was feeling pretty pumped up and ready to race. I passed lots and lots of people on the climb out of Valdobbiadene despite not being warmed up from the 45 minute wait, I somehow found the front of the race after only a few kilometres.

After 30 or so kilometres I got away with a couple of other riders, we established a lead of around a minute on the twisting roads but started to lose it again on a flatter, wider section. Just as we were about to get caught by the chasing pack of around 20 riders my rear derailleur cable snapped, shoving me in to the 11 sprocket. Why it happened there and then I don't know, I guess I am just unlucky, it was certainly working absolutely perfectly beforehand. To be honest I don't know why the bloody thing couldn't just break during a training ride rather than from the lead breakaway in an 1800 rider fondo in Italy that's also the last race of the entire season. I was slightly dumbfounded but not hugely pissed off, it's just fate like usual I guess, I always seem to get fuck ups like this when it really matters and have to learn the hard way. For example my mechanical in the Tour Alsace last year, my back problems conveniently reappearing in both of the last two national road races, my cramps at the TT champs etc. etc. C'est la vie, perhaps if I just believed in myself a bit more my cables wouldn't rust so quickly...

I borrowed a screwdriver and made my gear in to 39x14 instead of a 39x11 and grinded up the 20% climbs with the slower riders, on the last one I had to walk as it was too steep. The mechanic at one of the refreshment stops tried to replace the cable but he couldn't fish out the end of the previous one so I had no choice but to continue with only 2 gears.

After finishing I drank lots of prosecco to drown my sorrows, the winner was one of the guys from the breakaway with me, he had a bright red face and was quite old. Apparently he was shaking and crying on the podium, later we heard that he had been disqualified for taking amphetamines. He was certainly very friendly and chatty when I was doing a 3 up with him.

Gunnar never got in to the front group but had a strong and solid final 40k solo to come 20th, not bad at all for a race against so many riders. Mauro, Luciano, Jennifer, Ashley and Roberto all finished the 67k fondo in respectable times. I was the last man in, after arriving we went to the post race pasta party and drank copious amounts of prosecco, sorrows were drowned and all was well. Later we went for pizza at the top of a castle and drank beer. Apart from the mechanical it was a great way to end the season. I shall have to save my anger until next season. As for which team I shall be racing for I have no idea, I don't really feel that I have the results to justify moving up a team, watch this space to see what happens.

Photos below, I don't have any of the race unfortunately.
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Updated 17-10-2010 at 07:12 PM by David Mclean

Tags: italy, prosecco Add / Edit Tags
Categories
2010 - Frezza - Pasta Montegrappa

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