What a day, Hokitika really turned it on for Round 4 of the Benchmark series.
Driving over to the coast on Friday afternoon it did not look like the
weather was going to be that great for race day. It rained in true West Coast fashion,
it was tipping down, then a few dry spells then down the rain came again.
Oh well it will be what it will be.
Once everyone arrived we all went out for tea and talked tactics, Nadine & I discussed where we would run in the morning, we need to get our training in but we could not interest Richard in getting up to join us. Richard was team mechanic and feed man.
Nadine was in charge of the tweeting while Mary was behind the wheel of the mighty R8!
Nadine & I got back from our run and told the boys that it was going to be a beautiful day. The boys got fuelled up with breakfast and lots of nervous talk. The support crew went off to the Race Start to get numbers, attend the Manager’s race brief and of course the all important support crew coffee, yet again Nadine gets stuck with ordering Mary’s special latte with marshmallows, kudos to Richard for having cash to buy coffees for the girls!
Numbers are pinned on to riders, spare wheels put into neutral support vehicle, group
hug, yeah nah, group photo and team High5CFO are lined up ready to race.
The support crew get their spot in the convoy and we are off.
One of the checks we got only a few kms into the race was that one of our riders was off the front we were excited about that. Having misplaced our rider list it took us awhile to work out that it was Stu!
Darrell punctured which was bad luck, Darrell has had a lot of good luck on this course so it was a shame that he punctured at the start of the Blue Spur loop as it is near impossible to get back into the race.
Next casualty was Geoff who suffered cramp but there was nothing we could do. Is there anything more painful than watching someone cramp each time they try and swing their leg back over their bike? The three of us in the car were feeling the pain!
It is always hard to leave the riders and move on to take care of the
ones still in the race.
Next team rider to get dropped was Wayne, he got dropped off a couple of times and
fought his way back. Luckily there seemed to be a small group yo-yo’ing off the
back together so he had company to assist with getting back on. Wayne was not that confident with his form
heading into this race but he did pretty good for someone who reckoned they were
not fit. The good news is that he has now got the motivation back to start training and
Scott was the next rider we had to drive past, coming down onto the flat before we hit the Main Highway Scott was in a bunch that past the convoy, Scott was pretty chuffed
to be in a position to pass the team car made a change from being past and left
Heath & Stu were still in the bunch then Stu made a break and we get called up to cover the two riders chasing the break. Scott & his bunch managed to make contact with the peleton.
Well I can tell you it was like old times being at the front end of the race this was awesome. Stu got 3rd so there were
lots of sweaty hugs for the team.
If you want to catch all the updates that we tweeted from the race then check out: https://twitter.com/TourAlps
The tweets fed directly into the "coveritlive" news feed on the race website.
A very good result for the team next race is Queenstown the course will more than likely be to Glenorchy and back finishing at Moke Lake which is a brutal hill top finish.
Race report by Mary & Nadine...
Dylan Girdlestone sealed his second overall victory in the 151km Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique in a dramatic two-man sprint in the third and final stage at Mbombela in Mpumalanga on Saturday.
In the dash to the line, the Westvaal-BMC rider got the better of MTN-Qhubeka’s Ethiopian climber Alem Grmay to steal the stage and overall wins by a single second.
After a series of well-timed attacks by Girdlestone,
the two broke clear of the group containing the main contenders in sight of the finish at the Mbombela Stadium.
The 23-year-old from Pretoria completed the 30th edition of what is believed to be South Africa’s toughest road race in
a combined time of 3:43:02. Westvaal’s Nico Bell secured the final step on the podium in 3:43:12.
“It feels just as good as the first time I won it,”
said an elated Girdlestone. “I’ve always put the Jock down as one of my goal races because it suits me really well. “This year’s route was very much like the old one in that you have a hard final stage with a tough last few kilometres.
“The trick is to stay protected and if you’ve had the easiest ride there, you’ll have the most power – which is exactly what
Although Girdlestone’s small five-man outfit was without the services of Tyler and Dusty Day, he said they had raced tactically to be able to compete against the numerically superior teams.
“The plan was for my team-mates to have an easy ride in the first two stages. I said, ‘You can drop off, just don’t get eliminated’.
“So we went into the last stage all guns blazing.”
Team Abantu sprinter Nolan Hoffman took the day’s first yellow jersey when he came out tops in a bunch sprint in the 43km opening stage between Mbombela, formerly Nelspruit, and White River.
Hoffman crossed the line in 1:05:08 to edge ahead of MTN-Qhubeka’s Ryan Gibbons and team-mate David Maree.
On stage two, a grippy 45km ride from White River to Sabie, Grmay and team-mate Yohans Getachew took advantage of an early attack by Europcar’s Paul van Zweel to forge ahead of the front group over the steep 7km Spitskop climb.
They were reeled in less than a kilometre from the finish by a four-man chase group consisting of Bonitas’s Willie Smit, MTN-Qhubeka’s Nicolas Dougall, Van Zweel and Girdlestone.
Grmay held on for the win ahead of Smit and Dougall as the front-runners were all credited with a time of 1:09:40.
With Hoffman distanced on the climbs, yellow went to Smit.
With time gaps almost negligible, it all came down to the 63km final stage between Sabie and Mbombela, which included an 8km ascent of the iconic Long Tom Pass.
Girdlestone, who won the final stage of the Mzansi Tour earlier this year, said the win had given the team renewed confidence ahead of next month’s Clover Lowveld Tour.
1. Dylan Girdlestone (Westvaal-BMC) 3:43:02
2. Alem Grmay (MTN-Qhubeka) 3:43:03
3. Nico Bell (Westvaal/Bell’s Cycling) 3:43:12
4. Nicolas Dougall (MTN-Qhubeka) 3:43:12
5. Paul van Zweel (Europcar) 3:43:12
6. Kevin Patten (ASG) 3:43:22
7. Yohans Getachew (MTN-Qhubeka) 3:43:28
8. Willie Smit (Bonitas) 3:43:44
9. Ryan Gibbons (MTN-Qhubeka) 3:44:41
10. JJ van Wyk (MTN-Qhubeka) 3:44:46
Original post can be found here...
Here is a flashback to 2011 when he rode for MTN... Darryl, today you made us ALL very proud...
See the original post by Ray here....
Cycling South Africa News
South African 1, 2 at Tour of Rwanda, Lill Takes the Tour Win
26 November 2012 – South Africa’s national road cycling team stuck to their game plan and claimed their first victory at the 2012 Tour of Rwanda when Darren Lill retained the yellow jersey after the seventh stage to claim the overall win with compatriot Dylan Girdlestone finishing in second place. The Tour of Rwanda ended on Sunday in Kigali with a stage of 124,3km.
After starting in Kigali nine days earlier, international teams toured the scenic and hilly Rwandan countryside to span 876 kilometres in total, starting with a Prologue on Sunday 18th November followed by eight stages.
For Lill, who was not feeling up to peak fitness prior to the Tour after recovering from a virus, the victory was a pleasant surprise.
“This was an unexpected win for me,” said the 30-year old from Cape Town. “I went as part of the team to help the younger guys, so to claim the overall victory has come as a surprise!”
Lill captained the 6-man national team to victory in his first Tour of Rwanda. “It was a good tour, with challenging stages, and great terrain, which made for positive racing. There is fantastic talent in Africa, but I think my experience in international racing, and being a mentor to my younger teammates gave our team the edge, especially when we cannot use race radios.”
National team manager for the Tour of Rwanda, Ian Goetham was supremely impressed with the team’s performance on his first international outing with the squad. “We had very good days that were well planned, and we succeeded,” said Goetham. “The team camaraderie was very high, and they all understood the goals of the tour. From stage one, the initial plan was to get the yellow jersey and win the tour.
“It was a brilliant team effort, with each one of the six riders contributing to the team’s success. An overall victory for Darren and a second place for Dylan is an excellent accomplishment. David (Maree) sacrificed a lot to work in front, and Avery (Arendse) and Reynard (Butler), both new to international racing, contributed a lot for us to keep the yellow jersey. Shaun (Ward) kicked off the tour with a stage in the yellow jersey [after his combined efforts of the Prologue and stage one, with Girdlestone only seven seconds behind in the GC at that point]. Darren was an excellent team leader.”
Further to holding the top two positions in the top ten of the final GC (general classification), South Africa also won the Team competition. “Considering that this team spends most of the year representing other teams within the country, they worked very well together as a unit. The quickest times of the top three riders in each stage resulted in a team win for us as well.”
Cycling SA’s road cycling director Hendrik Wagener was very pleased with the results. “We always hope for a win when we send a team to an international event. To have a first and second place in the final overall GC is a great achievement, and gives us a great base to build on in the early stages of our aim to take part in more African events, and of course, some valuable UCI points.”
Summary of Results – 2012 Tour of Rwanda – Overall GC
I’ve always loved the ‘marginal gains’ side of cycling and triathlon. I had a heart-rate monitor shortly after Chris Boardman started using one. I was the first in the UK after Simon Lessing to have the top-of-the-range Aquaman wetsuit (I still use it). I’ve always read countless magazines looking for the latest training secrets or nutrition products that would help me go faster. However, to attain excellence in any field, whether it is sport, art or work. it is vital that we focus on the basics and doing them exceptionally well before progressing on to the complex stuff. A straw poll at the coaching workshop I delivered last week suggested that most athletes had never had the opportunity to work on the basics. Certainly, as an athlete, sport scientist and coach I have been guilty of looking at the ‘marginal gains’ before it was appropriate to do so. It has taken me many years to recognise that this was a flawed approach.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore the basics of cycling performance, starting off with ‘The Snickers Paradigm’ then, progressing on how to plan training for the forthcoming season. Hopefully, it will help you reflect on what you do in your own practice and make changes if required. If you’ve got any questions, suggestions, wish to agree or disagree please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. I promise to respond.
What makes a complete athlete? What are the skills, physical attributes and mindset required? You may wish to write down what you’re thinking before reading on and reconsider them later.
Doing the Fancy Stuff
Recently, I started coaching a 14 year old. Hmmm, a blank canvas, I thought. “what if he is selected for the Olympic talent programme. I need to find out how the programme coaches plan and prescribe training for youngsters, to ensure that how I coach the rider reflects what they’re doing”. Luckily, working at National Cycling Centre , I was able to pester Olympic Talent Coach Tim Buckle. As a result he invited me to a seminar for young riders and their coaches on exactly that subject. Although, I didn’t gain any new information, what I did learn was how to present that information. Tim’s genius was to make planning and prescribing training simple, practical and relevant to his audience.
“Eureka” I thought. Most of us need to fit our training around a busy life; amateur athletes have more in common with 14 year old school kids than Olympic athletes, i.e. limited time to train, many life demands, no professional support teams and limited access to coaches. Why had I been looking at what works for elite athletes when it’s more effective to look to how the best in the business develop youngsters? I had made the same mistake as Kerrison, starting at the top and working down, rather than starting at the bottom and working my way up.
I’d love to continue with Kerrison’s cake baking analogy; however, Buckle buggers this up by using an alternative one, “The Snickers Bar”. He wants to produce riders with the fundamental skills required to progress to compete at a higher level and marginal gains doesn’t come into his equation. So what is the “Snickers Bar”?
The Snickers Paradigm
Old habits die hard and I like to sound clever so I’ve advanced Buckle’s method of developing young riders by calling it a paradigm. Don’t look down the page just yet; Describe a Snickers Bar (a Marathon bar if you’re old and from the UK). What does it consist of?
Yes…. nuts, nougat, chocolate, caramel, and then the wrapper! However, unless all of these elements are present, the Snickers Bar does not exist. If any bits are missing, it’s not a Snickers! If it’s not a Snickers, you ain’t moving to the next level. Simply, the Snickers is the foundations of cycling performance. As I’m Scottish, the next level would be to batter the Snickers, deep fry it and then serve it with full-fat ice-cream. The world class marginal-gains cherry on the top Snickers Bar.
The Snickers Paradigm
I’ve used mainly cycling examples here, but it’s easy to apply to any sport.
The Wrapper- is work ethic. The wrapper holds everything together and it stops the bar from melting. There are many youngsters coming to sport wishing to follow in the footsteps Brad Wiggins, Lizzie Armistead or the Brownlee’s. What they don’t see is the sheer hard work and commitment that these athletes put in to reach the top. Every endurance athlete must learn to love and want to work hard. Training in mid-winter in freezing temperatures isn’t much fun after all.
Have you ever got back home tired, wet, cold and hungry? The blood starts to flow back into your fingers and toes, resulting in excruciating pain! 2 hours later after being in a sleeping bag, under a duvet, and having the heating on full you are just starting to warm up. Is it a reason to brag to your mates how hard you are or an excuse not to go out the next day?
A summer evening. Life is great. Everyone is out on their racing steeds, gunning it at 50km.h. Going through a roundabout, a car pulls out and you are stranded a few meters out the back. Just then, a crackpot decides to drive at the front of the group and you can’t close the gap. It gets bigger, there’s no way you’ll get back on now! Do you sit up and give in? Or do you imagine you’re Philip Gilbert out front in the Ronde with a 2 minute gap to close?
A Skills Session
Training when you don’t want to or looking at adversity as an opportunity to improve is a prerequisite for success. It takes time to develop, discipline and support from others to maintain, but without a serious work ethic endurance sport is probably not for you.
The Caramel- Are you brave? Can you go down a 20% descent with the brakes off? If a scary mad Kazakhstani leans on you, do you push back or do you end up in the gutter? Me? In the first instance, you wouldn’t see me for the rancid smoke coming from the burning rubber from my brake pads. In the second one, I’d be screaming “stay away from my Di2 rear-mech you brute”. I never made it as a road racer! I prefer non-drafting triathlons on flat straight roads! Kirkland is a complete nut, but he isn’t a complete Snickers.
Bravery isn’t just about racing. It’s about having an open mind, not always following the crowd and being brave enough to take measured risks. Sometimes, the bravest fail, but they dust themselves down with the wrapper and try again!
The chocolate- I once worked with a rider whose 5 minute peak power was 575 watts (massive). He was physically exceptional but he chased the wrong moves, attacked just before big climbs (he was 85kg) or chose to mix it with the sprinters when his fast twitch fibre count was 1%. His tactical awareness was similar to a Vietnam GI on angel-dust. He took up time-trialling!
If you’re not the strongest, having a good tactical brain can help compensate. When the red mist descends for others, it is essential to keep a clear head and think about what you are doing and why. The more you race, the quicker you start to make the right decisions instinctively. Why are GB riders now able to win at such a young age, if experience is so important? It’s simple. They practice tactics in training, they critically watch others racing and they are taught to reflect on what went well or less well in races They are encouraged to take remedial action to strengthen their tactical armoury.
At the BMX Track
Nougat- or nugget if you’re not posh! Being fast is part of being a bike racer. It’s not simply about the speed of travel. It’s about having fast legs. I recently had a parent on the phone saying that their “little Johnny” was getting dropped in local criteriums because he was on junior restricted gears and what should they do? Without a hint of irony, I replied “pedal faster!!!!” It’s simple….if you can’t increase the force, increase the velocity.
Being fast is also about being able to change pace rapidly, shifting cadence from 80 to 135rpm in the blink of an eye. Such skill requires neuromuscular adaptations and for these adaptations to occur specific training is required. Riders are most responsive to neuromuscular adaptation at a young age……think small gears, think track, rollers, BMX, cycle-speedway! Did I mention getting the miles in? Nope! That’s not to say that developing endurance isn’t important, it’s just less of a priority until speed is developed.
Nuts- peanuts, they’re jungle fresh! They’re also skill! In the Tour de France, maintaining the average power at the start of a stage is within capabilities of an Olympic target shooter…well maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. It’s pretty low! However, the average 1st cat rider would be scrambling at the back of the field, accelerating at peak power out of every corner and they’ll be out the back as soon as a wee dig went in. Why? Because they lack skill. Cornering, descending, being able to bunny hop at speed, eating a gel, putting a jacket on, not falling when coming into contact with other riders, sitting on a the team car bumper at 60km.h are only a few of the skills required to be a successful road racer. When was the last time you practised any of them? “When was the last time you practised then smarty-arse?” I hear you say. Never! But I struggle negotiating a turn in a time-trial and get shouted at by age-group triathletes when going round a corner.
It Takes Allsorts!
Until Next Time
The Snicker Bar is now complete. We all understand what it is, but how can we make ourselves or our athlete’s into one? Hard work to develop these skills is required before it’s time for the batter and ice-cream.
In a recent presentation to a group of club athletes,only one or two riders cautiously put a hand up when I asked them who trained to develop their own Snickers Bar. That was less than 10% of the group! Which group do you fit into?
Next week, I’ll go into planning training for next year, so hopefully I’ll see you then. If you like my article, tweet it, post it on your Facebook or pass on the link to others that you think may be interested.
I Need a Training Plan