My trip to Aigle.....
Thanks for all the feedback on the last blog. I honestly wasn't sure if it would be read by anyone. As I sit here now I’m kinda wondering how many people I pissed off but it is what it is. Hopefully there are no major holes in it.
I arrived into Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday and made the road trip to Aigle. I forgot how awesome looking the place is, I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a nice chill out. In part, it was like a tour down memory lane. I remember being here with the team pursuit guys back in 2008 and I also seen the place where Felix English and I went for coffee and a chocolate croissant when we were bored out of our tree! That was 2009, seems like yesterday.
Aigle is in a brilliant part of Switzerland. Feels like a time warp.
The first day was a pretty routine first day for anyone traveling to a bike race. Where am I sleeping, where am I eating and where can I leave my bikes, fundamentals. The UCI centre in Aigle is where the racing is happening. Its the global hub of cycling and every important race, team and rider knows this place or has had dealing through here.
The 200 metre track in Aigle.
Thursday morning - my racing didn't start until 6pm so I headed down before lunch to set up my bikes etc. Inside the centre at the velodrome there plenty of buzz, riders were on the track and lots more were doing what I was doing. The first person I met was Eoin Mullen, Ireland top sprinter. I think he was just finished training and was heading home. He’s pretty much a resident here now, I really don’t know how he gets through a cold winter here! After a brief chat with Eoin and some tinkering with the bikes I hit the road back to the digs for a bit.
Eoin in his first race of the event, the Keirin.
What seemed like almost instantly I was back at the Velodrome. There was some food in the restaurant for the riders and its fairly amazing how fast kilos of pasta can disappear! I didn't eat too much though as I wanted to get on the track for 20 minutes or so before the racing started. I just wanted to ride the track and see what it felt like, racing line etc. It was so different from training in Mallorca, Aigle is 200 metres around and Palma is 250. Everything happens so fast, it only takes about 13-14 seconds to get around and it can be fairly disorientating.
The first race of the Omnium now is a Scratch race and it kicked off at 6pm. After the open track session I was well warmed up so once I was suited and booted I just turned my legs over on the rollers until it was time to sign up for some pain! 75 laps (15k) was the total distance and it barely eased up once. I reckon I got one of my worst placings in a scratch ever. The smaller track felt different but I felt comfortable. There was a point in the race which felt like someone flicked a switch and I was toast! I placed 10th in the end.
Next up was the pursuit and there’s very little to say about it. The only thing which plays tricks on your mind is that its 20 laps instead of 16. I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome of the pursuit. I only placed 5th (4m 28secs) but my splits were never more than 2 tenths apart. It’s my second indoor pursuit of the year so I was happy enough.
The final race of the evening and it’s THAT race! You have the potential to crash every lap as it never really settles down until there is only a few riders left, I very rarely make that selection. Here I finished 10th which is very average but it is what it is, I know what I have to work on. I’m just delighted to have done one before turning up at the Europeans!
After a quick warmup down, recovery drink and a tidy up I was back to the hotel. The plan was massage, ice bath and bed and that’s exactly what I did. I’m still searching for stuff that vanished while ice cubes were floating between my knees, fingers crossed.
The second day of the Omnium started late in Aigle, the first race for me was at 4.30pm so the morning was nice and casual. Flicked the web, ate and feet up was the aim of the game until 2pm. I got a session on the track where I tested out my Kilo and flying lap setups and honestly I felt a bit groggy!
With a good solid warmup I was ready for the kilo. Plain and simple - its a brutal event, your body goes from calm and collected to full beans, gasping for breath and all cloudy around the eyes. Not healthy! When I could see straight I had a look at my time and it was middling, 1min 5 seconds. Another top 6 placing.
Warmup for the Kilo.
There was a bit of an intermission in which I had some pasta, awesome pasta! Then it was back to business. Next on the agenda was the flying lap and its an event that I don’t love or hate and with the new Omnium format there seems to be less pressure surrounding it. Don't really know why it felt like that because it’s still one of six very important races. After a fairly average time (11.0 seconds) I quickly put that one to bed and focused on the points race, a race that I love and hate!
The points race! I tend to do well in this race but I have to torture myself in doing so. I’m far from the best rider in the race but when the end of the race is in sight and can lay it down better than anyone. The race here followed that same trend but unusually I was a bit more active at the start. I gained a lap on my own inside the first 15 laps which I normally avoid as it can put you in the hurt locker for the rest of the race. This time though I got the lap and was able to hang on for a few sprints then recover. After picking up points in the next few sprints I managed to get away and get another lap. Leif Lampater bridged over and helped me finish gaining the lap. The race finished with me hitting the front with 6 laps to go then just winding it up, somehow I held on to win the sprint. When the dust settled I picked up 70 points and finished second in the points race which moved me up to fifth overall. Not what I hoped for but I relearned so much stuff that I forgot!!
The night finished with a quick packing of the bikes and a cold (very small) beer while watching the Madison!