We went to Corsica immediately after the Tour of Belgium to check out the first three stages of the Tour de France. We were there with mechanics, masseurs, and two riders: Gert Steegmans and Tony Martin.
We had mostly good weather except for rain on a mountain the second day, so that was important to properly check the course without problems.
We started with checking the parcour of the third stage. We saw the parcour and the final. It's a nervous final — very spectacular, with a climb at about 12 to 13km from the finish. The climb is an important climb, not a small one. That climb is Col de Marsolino at the 132km point. It's 3.3km at 8%, so it is not a banal climb. The final will be difficult.
Then we did also the first and the second stages. The first stage we focused on the final. The first part of the parcour, we will have to do reconnaissance when we're there for the actual race, because we had no time to do it this time. The final is not so bad with big roads. It will probably be a bunch sprint and also the longest of the three stages we will do in Corsica (212km).
We also checked the parcour of the second stage. It is the hardest, with four climbs in 154 kilometers. The middle of the parcour we have three of the climbs, one after the other. They're not so steep, but in any case they will be important. The descent is one where you have to push, because it is not technical. Then, more or less 12 kilometers from the finish, there is the Cote du Salario. The top of the climb is at km 142.2. Sure, the climb is only 1 km, but there is a 9% average gradient. This will be difficult to pass with the high level of the competition. It will be a fight there for sure. It was important to come to Corsica and check the parcour. We did some videos and recorded some info. We even had some pigs on course!
Tony and Gert had the possibility to check parcour on the bike, so for sure they will give some important feedback to the team during the upcoming races before Le Tour. Overall, it was a good experience. Now, we want to keep going on training and preparing everything.
We're already in Tour de France mode. So, this is the first step! From now we will work on our preparation to be truly ready for the race.
Hello from Mallorca!
Training so far is going very well. We did our last real training today before the races begin on Sunday. Everybody stayed healthy at this training camp, so we could do everything we wanted. The weather was always good, 18 degrees or so. This being the last training camp of three we’ve done since December, I think everybody is ready to race.
Usually the season started with us at team building, then we start training. But this year was a little different. The Belgian guys were on the track twice a week. Then we had our first training camp in Mallorca, also which was new. It was easier in the sense that it was flatter than what we usually did in Calpe for prior years. We did a little more kilometers at the end to see how it went, and it worked out well. Now, at our third training camp here in Mallorca, it's been going well. It's been good to see the progress, going from the first training camp where we just got the legs going again,.. Especially at the end of the second training camp, you saw the power in the legs coming back with the guys in Calpe. It was good for them, also hard, but they recovered fine. Now you see all the hard work in Calpe paying off. They are in really high form — maybe even better than last year. Let's hope that shows in the results!
As far as our riders go, we've seen some good progress in those who have been injured. Stijn Vandenbergh's knee is OK — he could train every day, and improves every day. Luckily he is able to start in Tour of Qatar on Sunday. Nikolas Maes also improved every day after breaking his collarbone at our Calpe training camp. Today, for example, we had him motorpacing together with Tom Boonen. I think in terms of his collarbone, he is ready to race. He might be able to race Volta ao Algarve.
I have to also talk about Tony Martin, who is racing for the first time in 2013 in the second race at Trofeo Mallorca. think he is very motivated. He trained very hard, like everybody else here, and he looks sharp. He's riding well. Even at the Team Presentation he really surprised me that he could ride that fast already on the track. He's been training a lot on the TT bike as well. He is always focused, and is especially so at the start of this season.
Speaking of Tom, he is now always training with Maes. He started training yesterday, while the other riders have been riding here for a few days. We still have to wait until the end of tomorrow's training. Then he will rest, and then begins another three days of training. It's still a bit of a question in terms of his condition, but he showed today he is already better than yesterday. I think he will improve everyday, so we won't see the "best" Tom in terms of his condition for another 14 days. But if he can recover really fast on the level of his training, that will be a good sign. If the weather allows he will train a lot, so we will see after some good training at the end of this week how he looks. So far, I think he will be fine.
We've done more parcour recon in the last days. We did the last stage most recently. It is a slightly new parcour, and a hard stage for sure. It has a flat final, which could make for a tricky stage. There could be a group sprint of maybe 50 riders in the final, or a breakaway. But our riders know already the stages. The first is a criterium in Mallorca. Nothing too hard, about 100km of flat racing. The second stage is also kind of a Spanish flat stage — up and down, but not really that hard. I think there will be another bunch sprint. Then the last two are really hard. We have to see, but we have riders that I think can do really well.
I think Trofeo Mallorca will be special for a guy like Carlos Verona. He's new on the team, and Spanish, so this will be a great experience for him in Mallorca. He has the chance to ride in front of his own people in an OPQS jersey. He's really motivated and he's very young, so we'll see what happens this year. Already he has made a good impression. He's already well integrated with the team. He is doing fine so far, so I am curious to see how he does in the races.
Well, that's about it. Everybody is relaxed and ready to race in Mallorca. We will do our best to get the best results with all the work we've been doing!
Once again this year we've wrapped up our experience at the Tour de San Luis. All things considered, this was a good transfer for team OPQS.
Mark broke the ice right away with a nice victory in the first stage. The next day we tried to duplicate, but an impressive Modolo stood in our way in a final that was suited to his skills. However, we got some good insight on some guys who in the future could become a part of Mark's train in the European races.
Kwiatkowski stood out in the time trial, even managing to wear the leader's jersey. I won't deny that we tried to defend it but on the long climbs, Michal still lacks that little something that the pure climbers have. Michal proved himself an optimum racer, one whom you can always count on. Age is also on his side, so he can only improve in the future.
The rest of the squad also worked very well and proved they were worthy of the situation. Our guys worked for Cav when necessary and for Michal when it came time to defend his leadership. Perhaps with a bit of luck we could have obtained a place among the top of the rankings and probably without the chaos that erupted in the final of the last stage, Mark could most likely have closed out his week in Argentina quite well. Anyway, we are satisfied and looking ahead to the next upcoming events with determination.
The race here was different compared to last year. It's much bigger and has more followers, and it was also well fought out, thanks to the participation of qualified riders. There were a few stages that were ridden at an impressively fast pace and a high technical level.
There were large crowds cheering us on along the roads; we could really feel their enthusiasm. The day of the presentation there were thousands of people there to greet the riders. The same thing happened on the major climbs.
This race is ideal for creating a good group — a nice atmosphere inside the team. On transfers as long as this one, the riders have time to spend together and get to know one another. Now our adventure is over. In a few hours we will leave Buenos Aires on our way to Paris. It's a 13 hour flight before we can get back home.
Goodbye everybody, and... #Stayhard!
Our athletes have big ambitions for the season and the staff has big goals for the off-season. The last few years my main targets for the winter break have been simple: Fix the damn roof of my old house and run 10km under 35 minutes.
Until now I haven't had success achieving any of those off-season goals.
How can it be that I fail to succeed year after year I ask myself? Looks like I underestimate normal family life year after year.
What I mean is that when we are on the road, I don't have to cook for two kids each morning, I don't have to get two kids dressed and drive them to school, I don't have to pass the post office, go to the shopping mall, visit my parents-in-law, have my mother running around asking 1,000 silly questions about the garden, do mathematics homework with the kids (I don't have a clue about that) go to BMX, or swim with all the kids in the neighbourhood. I even went to Sweden with three kids, sleeping in a tent, in a dark rainy forest, surrounded by wild bears, moose, and vampires (I told the kids).
Stuff like that makes you really tired. In the evening I feel like a riders who just arrived at the Velodrome in Roubaix - eight minutes after the winner.
Most Sundays I do some kind of competition. With competition I mean stuff where you get a number on your chest, make bets with your pals about who's the fastest, standing at the start line being nervous as you start in a Olympic pursuit final and getting your butt kicked big time.
Getting home and convince yourself, you'll be back much better and stronger next weekend.
We're all armed with a selective memory, we only remember our wins and never our losses.
Oh, please don't mention my roof or old house. I remember when we bought it; it was just one small week before the big financial crisis back in '08.
I Told my wife; this is going to be the best investment of our lives, a few things have to be fixed, honey remember I'm an old bricklayer and a handyman so before you know, you live in a castle ... hmmmm.
My wife has to understand a lot of things in life don't necessarily go as planned.
Something I absolutely did not plan at all this winter, but happened anyway, was my 50th birthday.
At my age you try to ignore/forget birthdays like that, but my brilliant friends kept asking: "How is it becoming 50 grandpa, will you make a big party, you need a walking stick or shall we cut your steak in small pieces so you can chew it old man ..."
For a while I was thinking: Hell! Why didn't I do Tour of Beijing with Schaffi and Lefevere. Just away from everything so nobody would know it was my 50th birthday.
The day of my birthday a friend of mine asked, if we should grab a coffee downtown Copenhagen in the afternoon ...Yes sure, why not I said.
Well just when I arrived at the bar, I ran into a young Gentleman called Mr. Cavendish, saying happy birthday old chap ...
The bar was full of 150 of my friends. The afternoon went to evening, the evening went to night and the night went to morning..
Next day I felt like 150 years old, but properly got my best birthday ever!
See you soon!
Today I am so happy and proud about Tony. I know the effort he put in to be competitive in this race. He really was a fighter in the last weeks. He had a lot of bad luck in the last weeks. He really deserved this medal.
After the crash at the Tour he lost a lot of race fitness, So for him it's really the best result he could reach today. He didn't make any mistake during the TT. Everything was perfect, so we have no regrets.
OK, for sure everybody wants to win. But on the podium, I saw his face. He was happy, relaxed, and think he understood what kind of a performance it was for him. I am sure tonight when he goes to bed, he will think of all the past weeks of this season, this race, but overall, he will start thinking about this podium. I am sure he will be happy and proud of himself, just as we are.more information