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Blood blood blood

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I never told anyone about the final stage of Hellas, I spent it in the second following car chatting to our Greek Masseur Gregori. Heís a top guy and bought me a beer and a Souvlaki the night before to commiserate on my abandon. Since Davide was only a few seconds behind the leader on GC the team decided it was worth trying to do something even though there were no major climbs. The finish was slightly uphill and had lots of corners in the last few kilometres coming into the middle of Athens. The team managed to create a slight split in the peloton coming into the finish. Enrico won the sprint, here is an epic photo:

Note the small gap between riders in the background. Davide was on the right side of the split and the leader on GC was on the wrong one. Antonio, our DS argued with the commissaire that it was a legitimate time gap, personally Iím not so sure. The timing is supposed to be from the front of one group to the front of the next, so more like 10 seconds than the single second eventually given, which didnít change the GC order whatsoever.

Everyoneís jaws dropped when I told them that the last time I had a blood test was in January 2009. The only reason I had that test was because I had abandoned the tour of Costa Rica with a fever and I wanted to make sure that I was OK to train again. Apparently I need one at the minimum every 3 months, preferably more often during the season though. You arenít allowed to enter the Italian pro road race championships unless you submit three blood tests to CONI per year, Italians know about their blood tests!

When we got back from Greece I managed to do my special passing out trick at lunch. I was later taken to a GP who was unable to get a blood pressure reading as it was so low. he ended up squeezing my arm in order to get a reading.

I always learn these things the hard way, why did no one tell me about getting blood tests? Itís never been a problem before; perhaps I am lucky to have come this far without any problems. Since my training and racing load isnít too different from other years I suspect itís the change of diet that has caused the problem, although to be fair when I was in the form of my life at the end of last year I was eating the same stuff as now. Ignorance is bliss, now I am destined to check my blood levels all the time, itís a slow hard slog to professionalism. On the plus side it could be that even when Iíve been riding well in the past perhaps I have been deficient in certain vitamins and so on, I should look on this as another steep part of the learning curve.

Iíve never really been a dilettante or an espoir, not a serious one anyway. dilletante teams in Italy are virtually pro teams, they teach you how to be pro over a number of years. For me my equivalent is being on this team and it's been a bit of a crash course (sometimes literally), unfortunately this one Ďamatoreí mistake has cost me many races so far, and may well cost me many more. One thing is becoming clear: if you arenít helped along the way in some sort of development pathway from the beginning itís very difficult to learn how to be pro quickly enough. The mistakes you make along the way are too costly and time consuming, I suppose some are lucky and sneak through without too much trouble though, others crash, catch diseases or train themselves into the floor, the ones that make it are invariably the ones that go through some sort of development system. We shall see how bad the situation is once I figure out whats going on.

Below are the results to the two blood tests Iíve ever had, the one from January 09 and the one from a few days ago (I got the month wrong in the 3rd column):

As you can see my haematocrit is significantly lower, same with blood volume and haemoglobin. I apparently need more tests done on other blood related values like folic acid and vitamin B12. Sideremia is iron serum which appears to be within the normal range, although perhaps my body normally is higher, who knows? I wish I had had a proper blood test in the off season. I did actually have another blood test: When I last did testing at Anglia Ruskin I had a haematocrit test and scored 49 point something from memory.

Iím coming back on Wednesday night to start getting better, hopefully it wonít take so long that thereís no season left. If anyone fancies picking me up from Stansted I would be infinitely grateful, or from the Cambridge coach stop. - EDIT: lift acquired, thanks to Alex Wise!

If anyone is a doctor or knows a sports doctor or think they can help then please get in touch.

Updated 29-05-2012 at 09:56 AM by David Mclean

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