Archive for November, 2007
To race at an elite or professional level in France you require some kind on insurance, but no insurance company will cover a rider unless they know they are fit and healthy. Of course most cyclists would like to think they are fit and healthy, but there is the odd occasion that there can be complications with athlete’s health, due to genetics or some other reason. So to apply for a license you must go through a complete course of testing.
To start with there is the standard body mass index (or fat test), which sometimes doesn’t bring quite the result your after damm it. Following that your lung size and strength is tested on a fancy little machine connected to a computer that shows your results as you do it. After that its time for a urine test, and a then you are hooked up to a few diodes to check you resting heart rate to make sure you are ready ride yourself to exhaustion on the test bike. So into the test lab you go, though there are about 400 questions to answer first, and this can take some time in French.
Once the book work is done you have to lie down on a bed while about 20 diodes are hooked up to your chest and back to monitor your heart rhythm during the test, and a catheter in your vein to take lactate samples as you make you way through the pain barriers.
Finally you’re onto the bike, starting at around 200watts and increasing 30 watts every 3mins until you’re at your limit. Though the worst part I find here is after you finish you’re taken straight off the bike dripping sweat and laid back down on the bed for 10mins as the monitor your heart in recovery mode. So once you have been detached from all the cords there is time for a quick shower before a post test weigh in and a vision test. So there’s an entire afternoon, though its still isn’t finished there.
You are also required to have and echocardiogram or ultra sound of the heart done every year, and a full dental check every two years just for good measure. So as you can see it sure is some process, but at the end of the day I guess it is all just safety measures and keeps everyone in good check so they know they are all in order to smash themselves week in week out during the season.
Below are a few pictures of me getting put through my testing in Toulouse just before I came home.
Well it’s taken me a while to get on to this one, and I think it is half due to how much the race took out of me.
Eight months on from the Tour Down Under in January it was quite nice to be back with the kiwi boys for another race in Australia. I always enjoy racing over there as it is always such top quality racing and organisation, but so close to home.
For this trip my long time coach Graham Bunn was the Manager/Director Sportif, and did he ever thrive in the role. Spending most of my racing days in Europe now it was great to race under Graham’s guidance again, and I’m sure the other boys enjoyed his organised but laid back style too. You can never underestimate the Australians as they have established themselves as one of the strongest cycling nations in the world now, and with a stack of international riders it was always going to be a tough 8 days.
The Sun Tour covers a lot of ground around the state of Victoria but interestingly its longest stage is only 150km long. This certainly didn’t make it any easier, but for many riders who are coming to the end of a long 9months season it makes the race a lot more inviting and primed for exciting racing. Like last years addition this year the yellow jersey was still up for grabs in the final criterium, which made for exciting racing all week long.
For me I went into the race with a pretty open mind, hoping for a result but also mainly to continue building my form for the upcoming track events in November. The race started at furious pace, and we were hounded by cross winds for the first two road stages, which splinted the field from the gun. Missing the main break away on the first day I was disappointed to be out of GC contention but as the tour would go on and we climbed to the mountain top finish at Falls Creek Ski resort I found myself really struggling to stay with the leaders anyway. By the end of the tour I hadn’t picked up a result I was really after but was happy with the way my form had come up during the race, consistently finishing in the top 15-20 most days.
One of the true highlights apart from the racing for most of us though would come in the form of a great sponsor, Mitchelton Winery. These guys were more than just sponsors they were very accommodating hosts, and we got a feeling for this the night we arrived in Bendigo as they welcomed us at a very nice restaurant and presented us with our race jerseys and a little of the sponsors product. As stage two started at the winery we were invited to a dinner the night before a tour of the winery, and obviously a little bit of taste testing though not to much as it was only two days into the race.
I would personally like to thank Mitchelton for their hospitality and generosity, and really hope the New Zealand team can continue the relationship for future tours. I have added a few pics from the tour below, so you can see we actually did some hard racing but enjoyed ourselves at the same time. Thanks again for reading, I will be in touch with some updates from the upcoming Tour of Southland and track events.