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Padania Stage 5

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Today is the day I really cracked. I donít think I recovered fully from the previous dayís efforts in the mountains and suffered for it. The profile for the last stage began with a 25km climb of around 1000m and then a descent, fortunately the climb was effectively neutralised, we didnít climb it *that* slowly, though. The descent was a little complex but mostly fast and safe apart from a very nasty looking crash from a Farnese rider (that I didnít see). We regrouped at the bottom and apart from another short climb it was flat to the finishing circuits. I am trying to figure out why I found it so difficult today, it was probably one of the easier stages in the race. Anyhow, I was dropped after only 100k, halfway round the first circuit of 3. It was disappointing to say the least. I kept riding for a while and although I was asked if I wanted to stop by the driver of the last car in the convoy I decided to continue. I passed the feed zone (just before the finish line) and saw our team car and turned in. I knew at my pace I would finish a long way behind the front of the race.

Antonio told me to continue, so I did. He drove up behind and asked me to hang on to the car. This of course is one of the tricks of the trade, although in my mind the race was very much over. I have hung on to cars in the past to catch a race up before: in the Tour Alsace in 2008 after my chain broke and also in the Tour Doon Hame this year after a puncture (for which I was disqualified from the entire race by an over zealous commissaire). It is the done thing as it simply isnít possible to catch up a race again on your own and to have your race written off by a mechanical problem isnít fair. So a blind eye is turned. In this case though it was my legs that didnít work and so even if Iíd finished I would have cheated and so couldnít really accept that I truly had finished, if you see what I mean.

Anyhow, we caught the race up again at the same place I was dropped on the previous lap and I made a vain attempt to get through the convoy. But my legs were like jelly and my head long gone, so I went backwards again. This time I stopped for real, around 35km from finishing. I tore my frame number off and gave it to the final car. I had abandoned. Had I continued from that point I would have probably made the time cut (not sure if there even is one on the last stage anyway) but my team didnít want to hang around and wait. In any case this was about trying to finish in the bunch, not miles off the back, anyone can do that. This isnít a triathlon or cyclo sportive, after all.

I am too tired to be disappointed really at the moment, it seems that itís pretty normal to not finish your first few X.1 races over here (it is apparently normal to take as much as half a season for a young green rider) but I really thought I had this one in the bag after getting through stage 4. I am covered in that deep, floppy, gelatinous fatigue that envelops you after a difficult stage race. On Tuesday I fly back home for a couple of weeks before riding the Memorial Marco Pantani on the first weekend in October. Weíre only doing one other one day race and then the season is done, they are both 1.1s. I just hope I can finish one. My team arenít really disappointed in me at all, which I personally find strange, I guess it must be true for absolutely everyone to go through this process before getting anywhere in these races. I guess I should come back home with my head held high and in perspective, although given the results I find it hard to do so. There are plenty of ifs and buts in my mind, the biggest of which being what might have happened had I not had such bad food poisoning. I think the Settimana Lombarda race was a fair bit easier than this one and I would have finished it without too much trouble. It would have been nice to ride the Tour of Britain (our team was refused entry) to see if that would be any easier or harder, my guess is it would be mostly like the Ďflatí stages I have ridden here (i.e. still pretty difficult but basically glorified motorpacing for the also rans such as myself), I certainly wouldnít enjoy riding it as much as I have enjoyed these races, of that I am sure.

When it comes to me and cycling I am a very very slow learner and very much of the school of exceptionally hard knocks, this is just another knock, that is all.

Other things of note: there were more protests today. Riot police with shields and batons were at the start and the protesters were apparently going to try and stop the race from commencing. The organisers got us to wait in the square and they only told us at the last minute which direction we would be leaving it, so as to outsmart the protesters. It was a bit of a faff but it worked well enough. There was another protest near the top of the mountain and then again at the town at the bottom. Two people were shouting at us from the middle of the road that we were fascists. They were dealt with by an Acqua & Sapone rider with a deft couple of squirts with his drinking bottle, much to the amusement of the peloton.

Paolo Bettini was at the start of the race, and probably at the finish, too. Perhaps he had something to do with the high speed today as all of the Italians are hoping to get picked by him for the World champs in a week or so. If I were Paolo I would get everyone to ride for Modolo and Visconte.

Updated 11-09-2011 at 06:49 PM by David Mclean

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2011 - Meridiana Kamen


  1. ChrisB's Avatar
    Dave, there are immense positives you should take out of this - you finished four stages! Chin up, lad.
  2. Dog72's Avatar
    Your Italian Adventure has been a Entertaining read and I hope the experience puts you in good stead for Oct.