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UCI 2.2 Tour of Hellas, stage 1&2

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Stage one: Ancient Corinth to Leonidion Ė 138k

Something gelled on our team today, it was great to race as a single unit. We had someone in every move, the one I got into looked promising-ish until I went over a railway crossing and punctured my front tub, although to be fair only one other rider in our group of seven appeared to be committed. Roberto also punctured on the same crossing so it took a while for us both to change wheels; we got back into the peloton again without too much trouble though.

Then Mariano got into a break that lasted a lot longer, meanwhile the rest of us just sat behind the chasing teams and relaxed, I also fulfilled my bottle fetching duties with aplomb. After about 50k we hit the coast, it was flat for a while as we went along a bay but then the coast road began to get twisty and hilly. Once Mariano returned we tried to get away again and get into breaks, the bunch splintered and so Rebellin, who had been drafting patiently decided to close a gap himself. He closed it so fast that he only dragged a couple of people with him and so formed a break of seven riders once he arrived across said gap. The rest of us totally shut the race down after that and Davide stayed away to contest the finish.

The description of the finish in the race book stated that there was a single bend with 1200m to go. The reality was rather different; there were several very tight bends in the last 2k, two of which were off road on gravel. We also crossed a dry river bed, also full of gravel, the only riders that knew about it were probably Greeks, I suppose itís a way to make sure they get a good result.

Davide ended up coming second to a guy from Slovenia in a two up sprint, third spot was around a minute behind. Itís probably good that he came second, it means we donít have to defend the jersey tomorrow; there are bigger climbs to come on which he can strike.

As for me well I was quite happy to get in a break, get bottles and also mark lots and lots of crucial moves. I think I did my job admirably even if I say so myself. I was struggling a tad towards the end but would have finished safely in the bunch had it not been for the off road sections, as it was I was a few seconds down. It was hot and I finished with my jersey caked in salt.

I think that I may have developed hay fever this season, itís the only explanation I can find for my inability to go deep into the red and my significant reduction in power for efforts over my threshold. I always used to have it a little bit but Iíve been waking up with a runny nose for weeks now and I donít feel ill. Itís all very confusing and just a theory, not quite sure what to do to conclusively test for it either.

Stage two: Leonidion to Sparta Ė 135k

We started the same way we finished the previous day along the coast, then turned inland up to almost 900m before descending to the finish in Sparta. The plan was to get one of us in the break of the day so that we didnít have to chase. It worked great, Alberto attacked at the start and got away with one other guy and they stayed away for around 110km or so. The team with the current leader is a Continental team called Vorralberg Corratec, they had to work hard on the front all day to stop the gap getting too large. Once Alberto was caught we launched another flurry of attacks.

Enrico managed to get away with a few others, they stayed away to the finish, Enrico won the sprint and Alberto took the mountains jersey for his earlier efforts (he finished in the peloton, Rebellin remained in second on GC, also in the peloton with the GC leader. Suddenly the team has switched into gear and everyone is very happy with how it's all working, Enrico is a great captain and I am learning more about tactics than I ever thought I could.

Before Alberto was caught it began to rain, quite a while before we reached the highest point in the stage. We had a super-fast descent on nice, wide roads, I wasnít comfortable however. Just because I am tall it doesnít mean I am heavy, I think the team mechanics must have overestimated my weight by a good 10kg. I didnít care at the start in the bright sunshine but my wheels were inflated far too high. I could feel the lack of grip on the bends so took it easy, at one point, despite my tiptoeing on the corners I braked too hard coming into a bend. I only used my front brake but the lack of weight on the rear caused it to skip out. I held onto it and decided just to let the peloton go in the last 7-8k. By the time I reached the bottom of the descent with around 3k to go I was still being passed by the convoy, I dug in and managed to pursuit my way to behind the second following car, the bunch were only 20m away, the two cars went through the last two bends so slowly that they let a gap open up to the accelerating peloton. I finished just behind the group, probably only losing about 30 seconds. I shall have to ride with lower pressure tomorrow, luckily it only cost me some time rather than skin and bones.

On the plus side I think my hay fever (if it is hay fever) is a little better, partly because of the rain I assume.

We are in a nice hotel in Sparta now, currently I am reading a book called Mani, it is about a manís travels into the most remote peninsula of Greece. It is jam packed with stories, customs, history and so on - for example, warring families used to fight each other for years on end, often whilst living in the same village. They would build towers right next to each other and drop rocks on each other. If you ever go to Greece I recommend taking this book with you. It's a shame the tour doesn't head that way but as I understand it there is still basically only one proper road down there.

Here is a photo of Enrico immediately after the stage:

Here we all are the day before the start:

From left to right: Enrico Rossi, Roberto Casero, Davide Rebellin, Alberto di Lorenzo, Mariano Giallorenzo and myself.

Some links:

I wrote some more satire for Cyclismas:

Why Rapha is called Rapha:

A brilliant eBay description for a turbo trainer, I know the feeling:

This is the peak of televsion:, a man jumping on eggs. It's deeply unimpressive, deeply.

Updated 26-05-2012 at 10:15 PM by David Mclean

2012 - Meridiana Kamen


  1. ChrisB's Avatar
    I finished with my jersey caked in salt.
    Because you'd ridden the whole stage with it zipped up, I presume?
  2. MJC's Avatar
    I often have the same problem over here .. You are sitting to close behind a deicing lorry.
  3. James W's Avatar
    I don't think the question even needs to be asked, Chris! I am sure that David is the first in line to promote such crucial priorities, which are necessary for the very future of our sport. Just as much as I, whilst judging bike races, always make sure I have my pouch for my list of starters, a stick of adhesive, scissors, stanley knife, stapler and whistle; not to mention my manifold file.
  4. David Mclean's Avatar
    False alarm, it wasn't salt ....and I've bought myself some head and shoulders.