It’s too early for proper racing but my season started today. I was lining up at the Josep Florencio Open in Montroig, a coastal village about 1.5 hours south of Barcelona. After receiving a whatsapp last Thursday that my former team mate and training partner, Boris, would also be racing, I was looking forward to racing with some mates and racing my new S Works Tarmac Disc for the first time. A much appreciated lift by my girlfriend, Gemma, meant I could get to the race in the middle of Catalonia and her choice of hits helped to gear me up for the race.
The race is one that I had done once before, the 20 km circuit starts on a narrow street in the centre of town where it picks up the main road. This road is as flat as an iron and very fast and remains so until a sharp left turn inland through a town and the road starts winding up slowly at first, through another village, where the road kicks up towards the KOM point, that is followed a technical descent, then a left turn on to a dead straight plummet towards the start/finish.
After sign-on, I noticed a couple of jerseys that meant that today was going to be fast. Team Wiggins, the pink of Lizarte (Movistar’s unofficial feeder team), as well as numerous Team Compak jerseys, who tend to dominate the podiums in the region.
We rolled out of the centre of town and hit the flat main road and I was already spinning in the 11 tooth. The Lizarte rider had started right out the back of the bunch, making the most of a patch of sunlight to keep warm and take a run-up at the roll out. However, by the first corner, he’d made up 40 places and was confidently moving through the bunch. I followed him and moved towards the front of the 186 man peloton.
The first real test came on the first climb, I was still quite well positioned as I came out the top of the town. It was here that I the lightness of the S works put me at an advantage, surging forward as I pushed on the pedals. Suddenly, my seat post slipped and went all the way down to the bottom, knowing that this had been my own fault was frustrating but I tried my best to deal with it, completing the rest of the climb out of the saddle.
We dropped down the twisty descent, here I could notice the extra grip in the corners, combined with the disc brakes allowed me to out brake riders around me. Then on the long descent, I started slipping back. I managed to hang on to the bunch as we crossed the start line, but on the flat road I found myself at the back of the bunch. I chanced putting my hand up for neutral service as I slipped back through the team cars, the last car that past me, the Lizarran team car, they asked what I need and one of them stuck their head out and nipped up my seat post to where it should have been (approximately). I couldn’t quite believe my luck at managing to get this sorted. So after shouting “Muchas gracias” I made my way back through the cars.
Then came the next test. A 50 km/h head/cross wind had put everyone in the gutter. The strongest riders were using this to their advantage, putting everyone in the gutter. Three distinct groups formed. I managed to get across from the cars to back of the third group. I was desperate to get across to the next group, so I headed to the front and pulled with 4 or 5 riders as 50 sat on.
At the bottom of the climb, I managed to get on to the back of the next group. As we climbed, I was really paying for chasing so hard. There was still another group of 40 or so up the road that by this point, had opened up a gap of a minute. I rolled over the top of the climb hanging on to the back of this second group.
I managed a third lap before getting spat out of the group and absorbed and passed by the cars and rolling in for an early finish. The hard chase had been too much for me to maintain the pace later. Nevertheless, it had been great to really push the S works and see what it could do. It’s next outing won’t be until March and now I know how good this bike is, I can’t wait!
A couple of quick thanks to the Lizarran car for helping me out and Gemma for the support and photos. The winner was Stephen Bakker and Correntin Navarro of Wiggins Le Col was third.