|What happened at RAS?|
|Thursday, 20 May 2010|
As these things go, when everything seems fine, sooner or later it will al go down the drain. This Murphy's law stands true all to often in my book. After to cyclists more than unfriendly winter, I had my doubts if I will be able to prepare for Race around Slovenia so well that I could race with the best. But things turned right at exactly right time and by the middle of april I could feel I am on a right track to start RAS optimaly prepared. I became more then optimisti c, even so that I started to believe in my chances to take on Jure Robic for a victory. Things went sour when I got wet a couple of times during Lek's marathon for better breathing and I could feel the consequences with sneezing, headaches and bronchitis before the race.
If this wasn't the most important (and only) race on domestic calendar, I would habe to think deeply whether to attend the race in such a condition. As it is, I kept it to myself and showed up at the start showing optimism in my chances in the race. The crew was once again the best, with Borut, Irma, Spela, Igor and Denis doing their best to keep mi in contention and out of trouble. Just before the start we received out NANOTALK (the wirelless system for rider/crew connection), which proved more then useful.
At the start it was cold as in the winter (8°C) and the roads were wet, so I didn't want to risk anything and took it pretty carefuly in the first downhills. Even so, I had quite a good feeling until Jure Robic (who started 4 minutes after me) has caught me just after Ilirska bistrica. It was really too soon, but I didn't let that distract me and I kept my distance behind him with no problems until the road started to climb towards Pomjan and the road was crowded with competitors that started before us. Here is where I lost a contact with Jure. What got me even more worried was my breathing uphill, which just wasn't as it was supposed to be and I had trouble to overtake (on the paper) slower participants. That the worry was not unfounded showed my time at the first Time Station, where I was almost 15 minutes slower than in 2009.
Unlike my feelings uphill, my speed on the flats was like expected and I passed quite a few riders before Crni Kal climb. Here is where Austrian Fuchs overtook me and I had lots to do to keep him in my sight. On the flats he was a bit slow for me, but I just wasn't in the mood for overtaking. Following him I made a mistake in Sezana when I sprinted through the traffic light and I was just able to get through before the light changed to red. In that, I forgot, I still have a support vehicle behind me, which had to go through red kight to keep up with me. Of course the phone rang a few minutes later, telling us that we have received outr first penalty in 4 years at RAS, 15 minutes for driving through red light. I couldn't be mad at my crew, as it was solely my fault, but you could hear me granting and swearing through the night for a few kilometres. When my crew told me they have their own problems with holding No.2 it was my chance to see if I am right in asssesment that Fuchs is slow on the flat and see if I catch him back after the stop. We made a few minutes stop in which I changed my clothing for warmer temperatures (it was 14°C by then) and I was off trying to catch him back. I was successful and I caught him just outside of Nova Gorica.
The time at 2.TS showed that we have more than half an hour slower time than in 2009 and that information doubled my worries that something was wrong. Eve so, I started the climb to Predmeja full gas on and I was able to distance Thomas Ratschob who seemed to have his iwn problems. The first few kms of the climb I was doing fine despite shallower breathing, but then I slowed somewhat down, so Erik Rosenstein overtook me. I soldiered on in my tempo, hoping I will be able to catch hm on a flater part of the course. Which I did and we raced close together for the next 100kms, I set the tempo on the flats and he on the (short) inclines. At 3.TS Zaga it showed as the right tactic as we both gained a few places in overall standings.
I kind of feared the Vrsic climb as I know it is a difficult climb even when you are healthy and feeling all right. It started raining again and we could expect the worst conditions possible at the top (at 1600+m). As soon as the road went up, my legs stopped responding to what my brain was sending – I just couldn't keep my speed up to more than 8km/h (5miles/h). Eric overtook me in an instant and shortly after that Cristoph Strasser flew by, but took his time to say hello and express his worries about the state I was in (Thanks Cristoph!). Nice to see such a quality in a racer…
I just wasn't qble to respond to their tempo and I could see that it was going to be the first time it would take me more than an hour to come to the top of the climb. Not only that, it was also the first time I had to step down and walk the steepest part of the way in the last 1,5kms of the climb. It wasn't only breathing, even my legs felt like pudding, which in hindsight could be the result of former (trouble getting te cold air to my lungs). During the walking part of the climb I started to ask myself about the meaning of pushing on in the condition I was in. It was obvious that something is seriously physically wrong and experience tells me that it is not safe for me to »play« with my lungs, especially not in the cold weather like we had. I told my thoughts to my crew, who of course were shocked already with my “walking« uphill. They tried to convince me to puch on and see if my feelings would change in the next hours.
We stopped at the top, so I could get warm and hange clothing one more time. During that time I still insisted that I see no good in going on in such miserable conditions. We stil had more that 800kms to cover and with feelings I had in lungs and legs I was certain it would harm my health. The debate would probably go on for some more time if I wouldn't caugh (twice) badly in a handkerchief and what came out of my lungs didn't please anybody – it was blood! At that moment it became clear to everyone (even me) that we ahve a bigger problem than maybe some squeeking noise in my lungs and week legs.
The decision was hard nontheless and even myself couldn't accept it for quite some time, especially when the sun came out and it became nicely warm. I can only thank my crew whi were once again more than excellent! Thank you Osa, Igor, Denis, Spela & Irma, you were a great crew!
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