Tour of Romandie: Part 3
It’s pretty simple to describe, actually. It was a long day. It was a hard day. It was my best chance for a stage victory.
I was essentially in the break from kilometer zero. Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Belisol) and Matthew Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) joined me up the road. We had to fight pretty hard in the first 30 minutes to establish our lead. The field was intent on closing us down. Fortunately, they finally relented and we stayed away.
We built up our lead to about five minutes, and wanted to hold it there. We took it easy through the middle section to ensure the gap wouldn’t go up to much. If it had, the bunch could have panicked and started the chase earlier. With 50 kilometers remaining, we all went 100%.
We did everything we could to hold off the field, but it wasn’t enough. There’s a climb right before the finish. We anticipated this would be the trouble spot. We knew it would be tough to get over the climb without the field catching us. I heard that there were three or four teams on the front racing us, so that tells you how hard we were going. The peloton hunted us down.
The team spoke about the potential for a break to succeed today. My roommate, Fumy Beppu, was in the break two years ago on this exact same stage. The break stayed away that day, and he ran second. Of all the four road stages, this appeared to be the most likely day that a break could hold off the bunch. That’s why I put so much effort into the break. It was the team’s best chance, and my best chance, of getting a stage win.
As the week has gone on, I continue to be pleased with my road condition. This is my first road race with the team since Paris-Nice, and that was a fair while ago now. I’m still not 100% but I’m definitely happy with my current fitness. This race has proven to be the perfect build up for my objectives at Tour of California.
Photos from the day: (c) Graham Watson+ Read more…
Tour of Romandie: Part 2
As far as I know, it was a pretty hard day out there for everyone. The stage included 2700 meters of climbing over 184.5 kilometers between Morges and La Chaux-de-Fonds. That’s a pretty sold day. There were three categorized climbs in the second half of the race with the second of the category two climbs, the Haut de la Cote, coming 30 kilometers from the finish.
We knew all along that it would be a race to the bottom of the Haut de la Cote. It was a given that all the teams would want to go hard up the climb. They wanted to drop guys like Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling) to take the pure sprinters out of contention at the finish. That’s exactly what they did.
GreenEDGE was focused on getting myself and Allan Davis over both the Haute de la Cote and the final categorized climb, the third category Le Communal de la Sange, that tops out with slightly more than 10 kilometers left to race. Fortunately, Allan and I made it over the Haut de la Cote. We were five or ten seconds down from the main group, sitting just off the back over the top.
The field split on the descent, so Luke Durbridge and I tried to get on the front and chase down the front group. It took a lot of energy. We had to go as hard we could to get back to the main peloton.
Two or three kilometers after we regained contact with the front group, we faced Le Communal de la Sange. We had gone so hard to bridge the gap between the climbs, that I had nothing left in the tank to get me over the final climb. Allan made it over a bit in front of me but wasn’t there to contest the finish.
Looking at results, you’ll see that Bradley Wiggins won the bunch sprint. Pieter Weening was our top finisher in tenth place. Amongst the guys in the top ten, there’s not a sprinter’s name to be found. The climbers got the better of the sprinters today.
The stage ended up being a harder affair than it appeared on paper. Among the riders, there was so much talk about the final two climbs, but no one talked about all the uncategorized climbs that preceded them. I was quite fatigued by the time I made it to the second category climb I had been charged with getting over, and the teams really went full gas there.
If we hadn’t had to chase for ten kilometers in the crosswind between the two climbs, I think we potentially could have had a different outcome. The chase left us without any opportunity to recover and prepare for the next short burst. The category three climb didn’t seem like much, but it was hard – and I didn’t have enough left to stay with the leaders.
All in all, I’m feeling quite good. I’m pretty happy with how I’m climbing. There were a lot more riders that were dropped than left in the bunch over the Haut de la Cote, and I was there. I’m definitely happy with that. When I compare myself to Alby, who is in good shape, I see that I can nearly stay with him. It shows I’ve rid myself of my track legs at the moment.
Three road stages remain before the final time trial. My focus will be to look after Allan Davis. From Romandie, I got to the Amgen Tour of California. I’ll be looking to win some stages there.+ Read more…
Tour of Romandie
Well Tour of Romandie is now underway with the Prologue done and dusted.
I went into the 3.5km race with high hopes of pulling off a good result, especially after last years 3rd placing but it was not to be and I could only manage 22nd place. Although only in 22nd place, I was still reasonably happy with my ride. My time was only 2-3 seconds off a top 10 finish and 5 seconds off a podium, so in a world class field like it is here, it wasn’t all bad.
It set to be a very hard and hilly race this year and is unsure if there will even be any ‘real’ sprint stages. So lets just hope I have my climbing legs on and can get over the hills and either get support from the team in the sprints or support Allan Davis who is in great shape and edging for a win.
From a different stand point, I have the pleasure of rooming with Fumi Beppu, our Japanese rider and he is an absolute champ! Its great to see some of the different traditions and formalities he follows. I’ve always said that other than Australia, Japan has, so far, been my favorite country in the world.
Until tomorrow folks.+ Read more…
Back on Track
Well I’m back on track….so to speak.
My tendinitis is still lingering, but its certainly not hindering my training and or performance. I’m 6 days out from what I hope to be my third World Madison Title in a row partnering with Cameron Meyer. It hasn’t been an easy few weeks leading into the championships with both Cameron and myself out of action for nearly 2 weeks with injury or illness, but now things are starting to look up and our form and fitness is coming back fast.
It’s going to be a pressure packed World Championships this year being on home soil, but I think everyone within the team is ready to go and I hope we can break some records and put the rest of the world on the back foot before heading into the Olympics.
Anyhow, just a short update and I will try and write some more post Worlds.+ Read more…
I’ve recently been asked what I do to pass the time while traveling. Whether it be traveling to and from races in the team bus or airport transfers to and from Australia.
For me, killing time comes easily. I’m actually sitting in Bangkok airport right now, killing 10 hours between flights on my way back to Australia. (only 3 hours to go!)
Firstly I always make sure I pack the essentials. iPod, Macbook and/or iPad, head phones, portable hard drive (with a LOT of movies and TV shows) and a good eye patch for sleeping! I’m not a big reader, so generally spend more time watching TV shows or movies. I’ve just recently finished the whole series of Sons of Anarchy and Modern Family. Also if I have the time when I’m at airports i’ll always try and get a relaxing neck, shoulder and foot massage.
If I’m on the team bus traveling to/from races its mostly spent relaxing and listening to music, either because I’m stuffed from a hard days racing or still trying to recover from the previous days racing.
As for the music on my iPod that I listen to. I am not a 1 genre person, I listen to almost everything. Currently I’ve got the latest from Kings of Leon playing. (trying to block out the snoring of the man next to me!) I have an old album from Triple J’s 2010 hottest 100 which never seems to get old, some Foo Fighters and I always update myself with the latest top charts music.
I said I wasn’t much of a reader, but I did just recently finish a book called ‘Chicken Hawk’ which is about the life of a helicopter pilot on the Vietnam War. (highly recommended!) I also just read the latest RIDE magazine from front to back and love flipping through car magazines.
Hope thats answered a few questions and like always, feedback is always welcomed.+ Read more…
Injury Status update
Just wanted to give you all a quick update on the progress of my injury so far. It has been almost 10 days now since my tendinitis first started and after a boring week off the bike and a lot of painful physio sessions, I’m pleased to say its well on the way to being back to normal. I will begin light training again on Monday when I return to Australia in preparation for the upcoming track worlds and then I will assess with the Doc if I can get back into some serious training. (fingers crossed)
It definitely put a dampener on my spirits after a solid Paris-Nice. I was hoping to come out of the race tired but not totally wrecked, recover well and start straight back into a heavy training phase leading into the worlds. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as planned, but these things happen and i’ll just have to work with the card I’ve been dealt.
I’ve got a good coach in Scott McGrory who is leading the way for me and I’m hoping with his guidance, Cam Meyer and I can head into the Melbourne World Championships in top shape and take home our 3rd straight World Madison title. Well at least thats the plan!
Until next time,+ Read more…
Room mates. Who’s good and who’s bad?
So I’ve been asked a question about who are the good and bad room mates and why. Sorry to disappoint those of you who were searching for some dirty little secrets on some of the riders in the peleton but then again I don’t want to be put on someone else’s list of bad people to room with do I?
So let’s start with why I think people make good room mates:
-They have to be tidy and not spread there things all over the room.
-No pissing on the toilet seat!
-Talks to you and doesn’t just sit on the laptop all night.
-Generally a happy and bubbly personality.
Why people make would make a bad room mate:
-The opposites of above!
-Wakes up early
-Someone who always farts.
-Eating with their mouth open.
-Someone who always complains and is a glass half empty person.
Anyway folks, I hope that has satisfied a few questions and ill do my best to keep answering some more in due time.
Sent from Leigh’s Blackberry.+ Read more…
Paris-Nice: Out with an injury
So as some of you may have read via twitter I have pulled out of Paris-Nice with 2 stages to go. It was a decision not made lightly, but after discussing it at length with both my team Doctor and also my directors it was what we thought was best.
I have ‘started’ to develop tendinitis in my ankle/foot. At this stage it is quite sore but wasn’t stopping me from riding. After speaking with the doctor he informed me that if I continue to aggravate it (racing a 220km stage through the mountains) it is surely going to get worse and this would mean 2-3 weeks resting it which is not what I want at this part or any part for that matter, of the season.
I will be back in action soon on home soil trying to defend my World Madison title (with Cameron Meyer) at the Hisense Arena in Melboure on April 8. I hope you can all come and join me and help me across the line for what I hope will be our 3rd straight Madison World title in a row.
Will be back to check in soon with an update and how things are progressing.
Sent from Leigh’s Blackberry.+ Read more…
Paris-Nice: Part 4
Well, what can I say about today’s stage…quite simply it sucked. With 40+ km/hr winds at the start it was always going to be a shit fight and as soon as the flag dropped it was bombs away. Absolutely full gas for the first 50km and within 5km the bunch was in 5 echelons! I was in a good position up in the 2nd bunch not far behind the leading bunch but as the first climb started so did my days woes. I’ve started to develop some tendinitis in my ankle and also some other little issues which turned my day into a very long suffer fest. With the help of Simon Clarke I did make it to the finish and ill live to fight another day.
Tomorrow is set to be a mountainous day and hopefully my woes and injuries don’t flare up any worse and I can see out the day.
Hopefully I come back to you again tomorrow with some better news.
Sent from Leigh’s Blackberry.+ Read more…
Paris-Nice: Part 3
Well, what a day! GreenEDGE gets its first win in Europe in the TTT at Tirreno Adriatico and in a bloody fine style might I say winning by 17sec over Garmin and Radioshack and putting Matty Goss in the leaders jersey ahead of tomorrows first road stage.
As for me here in Paris-Nice, I also had a big day out the front in the break away all day. Unfortunately it didn’t quite go as planned with Rabobank keeping us in check all day, but none the less was nice to get out there and give it a go and pick up a bonus sprint in the process. After we got caught it was up to Simon Gerrans to again have a crack but unfortunately he crashed with 6km to go and was then out of contention.
Tomorrow is set to be a long, hard and very hilly day and my bet is I could pay a price for today’s efforts.
For those interested in figures and data, today I averaged 280 watts (including zeros) for 4.5hrs/180km, 155bpm and used 4500k/cal.
Fingers crossed my body recovers well from today and I make it through tomorrow in one piece!
Stay tuned for more updates from here at Paris-Nice stage 5 tomorrow.+ Read more…
Paris-Nice: Part 2
Close but no cigar! Today was almost an exact repeat of the ‘Old Willunga Hill’ of the Tour Down Under that saw Simon Gerrans just getting pipped on the line by Alejandro Valverde again. None the less it was an incredible ride and a glimpse of what’s still to come in the coming days and more importantly for Gerro at the Ardennes Classics.
As for me today, my legs were pretty good and I was up in the front group until just over 3km to go which for me is a sign of good things to come. I’m hoping to get a chance to make it into a break away in one the next days and really test myself and see if I can come up with a good result.
Feel free to throw some questions at me on my twitter @leighhoward1 and I will try and answer on my blogs in the coming days and give you some more in site into the Pro Peloton.
Until tomorrow folks, ciao.+ Read more…
So now you have all caught up on the first part of my season and now we arrive here, at Paris-Nice.
Stage 1 and 2 are now both complete, my hands and toes have finally thawed out enough for me to fill you in on what so far has been a cold and wet start.
Stage 1 was a 9.4km Individual Time Trial. Not exactly ideal for me, probably about 4-5km to long, but non the less I gave it a good crack and came up a bit short…as expected. Still I was happy with my time and when I look at some of the riders I finished with and some that I beat, it made me realize it was a decent ride.
Stage 2 was a very interesting stage to say the least. We started out the day slow, really slow. Not one attack went until 60km into the race when 1 guy from Lotto attacked and jumped clear. Then as we came up to the feed zone at the 100km mark the peleton started speeding up frantically and shuffling for position.
Unfortunately for me I wasn’t in position and was caught at the back. As we hit the feed zone not one rider even attempted to grab a feed bag, it was all hands on deck at the gutter action started. By the end of the feeding zone the peleton was in 5 echelons and it was all over red rove for me and the riders around me. The front group of 20 riders rode clear and from there until the finish it was full gas rain and wind in really cold temperatures. One thing that kept me going was knowing that the showers would be running hot when I arrived. Day 2 done, tomorrows another day!
Until next time folks.+ Read more…
The start of 2012
To all my devoted followers, I’m back online with a new and greatly improved website and am going to try and bring you more frequent updates of my day to day activities and racing schedules.
So it all starts here….
Before I get into where I am right now (racing in the freezing cold in France) I want to give you all a quick fill in my season to date so far.
My first official race in the new GreenEDGE colors kicked off at the Jayco Bay Criteriums and it all went great. We ended the week winning the series with Allan Davis and being on the podium every day.
From there we headed to Buninyong for the Australian Open Road Championships and even though we had all the expectation on our shoulders to deliver a GreenEDGE rider to the finish line first, we still managed to do so in fine style with Simon Gerrans being that man that delivered the final blow and get the honor of wearing the Green and Gold bands for the 2012 season.
So far so good, 2 from 2, but now it was time for the big boys to come out and play at the Santos Tour Down Under and start mixing it with the big professional teams.
I wont go into detail of every stage, but as most of you who are reading this probably already know, we won! Quite simply we had the best bike rider in the race and we all worked so well as a team all week and put Gerro where he needed to be when it mattered and he took it from there. The rest was history. Australia’s first Professional team wins the first World Tour event of the 2012 season….PERFECT!
Following the Santos Tour Down Under, Cameron Meyer and I flew straight to Europe to compete in the 101st edition of the Berlin 6-day. Again sporting the GreenEDGE colours but this time around adding the rainbow bands of the current World Madison Champions, we came up with the goods and won the overall title after coming a close second the previous year.
Revenge was sweet!+ Read more…