Stage 15: Kamikaze

Kamikaze

While some would say that you’ve got to admire the spunk of Philippe Gilbert, I think he’s been a bit reckless with his efforts. There’s no doubt that he’s putting on a good show, but it’s really not accomplishing much, and at the end of the day, that’s the only way to judge a bike race.

Early in my career, a coach told me that you should always have a reason for expending energy in a bike race. We even touched on this earlier when we talked about why you should avoid pulling unless absolutely necessary. To that, we can add attacking.

Taking risks and going for the glory is a big part of bike racing. We’ve already seen the benefits; just ask Thor Hushovd or Thomas Voeckler. But when the odds of success are zilch, a kamikaze if you will, I just don’t see the point. There was no way that HTC was going to let anyone go today with 3k to go, but especially, especially not Gilbert, who is a rival for the Points Competition.

With an incredibly hard week of racing yet to come, and with plenty of opportunities for riders with legs left to gain points, Gilbert should have kept his power dry today. In your rides, heed that advice. Go for it if there’s a chance, but have the courage to skip the showy waves of defiance when they do nothing to benefit you and save something for when there is a chance.

Steen A. Rose is an elite cycling and triathlon coach. He started coaching in 2003, and has been an Elite Coach with Training Bible Coaching since 2009. Steen is also captain of the Sun & Ski/Subaru Cycling and Triathlon teams. He has been racing since 1997, holds a Category 1 license, and has 13 state championships, 3 national medals, and 4 international podiums to his credit. He can be reached at srose@trainingbible.com

Rest Day #2: A Look Ahead

A Look Ahead

This is already the most exciting Tour I can remember, and we haven’t even entered the final week yet! The next 6 stages are, on paper anyway, the most important and most exciting of the Tour. After what we’ve seen so far I’m not sure they can live up to that, but let’s take a look at what’s to come.

Tuesday – This is a transition stage that will deliver the riders to the foot of the Alps, where the real action is expected to begin on Tuesday. However, it promises to be anything but easy. It’s uphill from the very beginning, and culminates with the Cat 2 Col de Manse before descending into Gap for the finish. With riders fresh from the respite today, with the sprints competition still hotly contested, and with one of the final chances for a breakaway to find glory, look for a fierce stage. Also, watch out for the descent into Gap. It’s tricky on a good day, and with rain in the forecast, could be quite sketch.

Wednesday – The rain I mentioned for Tuesday? It’s forecast in the higher mountains as well, only if the form of snow. It looks like the race will dodge the actual snowfall, but look for cold temperatures, sketch descents, and stunning Alpine views! The race heads into Italy, taking in several climbs along the way. Sestriere is the most well-known and challenging climb, but as it comes some 60-odd, mostly downhill, kilometers from the finish, the GC contenders may choose to keep their powder dry ahead of Thursday’s epic. The race should be fast from the start, as many will want to be in the break, and HTC will be closely watching Rojas and Gilbert to make sure they don’t make any headway into Cavendish’s Points lead. Another potentially sketchy downhill finale that should keep us all on our toes!

Thursday – The Queen Stage. Each year there is one stage of the Tour that stands out as the hardest and most important. Stage 18 is certainly that, with 4 Hors Categorie climbs, the highest point in this year’s race, and almost the whole day at high altitude. The race will be brutal, time gaps will be huge, and the winner atop the Galibier Serre Chevalier may very well be your winner in Paris. The polka-dot jersey competition for best climber could very well be decided today as well.

Friday – Another huge mountains day, starting with the Cat 1 Col de Telegraphe and then the Hors Categorie Galibier. From there it’s a 50-kilometer descent to the foot of the Alpe d’Huez and it’s 21 famous, leg-breaking switchbacks. Look for an early break to try their luck to hold on for the glory of a stage victory, and watch for the GC-contending climbers to try to put as much time as possible into Evans and Contador before the final time trial.

Saturday – While time trial specialists like Fabian Cancellara and David Millar vie for the victory, the real race will be among the GC contenders. If time gaps are still close, the winner and the entire podium could be decided today. I like Leipheimer as a dark-horse for victory today, assuming he doesn’t go for glory Thursday or Friday.

Sunday – A ceremonial stage for the most part, the sprinters and green jersey contenders will be out for blood. Cav’ would love to 3-peat on the Champs Elysees, but Tyler Farrar is out to de-throne the king, while Gilbert and Rojas will be scrambling for points if they are ahead or within striking distance of the lead.

Steen A. Rose is an elite cycling and triathlon coach. He started coaching in 2003, and has been an Elite Coach with Training Bible Coaching since 2009. Steen is also captain of the Sun & Ski/Subaru Cycling and Triathlon teams. He has been racing since 1997, holds a Category 1 license, and has 13 state championships, 3 national medals, and 4 international podiums to his credit. He can be reached at srose@trainingbible.com

Stage 16: Carpe Diem

On Stage 13 we talked about Thor going for it, and achieving the unexpected. Although Thor won again today, I’d like to talk about just going for it in a different context.

It is well and good to execute a plan, no matter how others may rate your chances of success. But what about when an opportunity suddenly appears? Do you go for it? Do you hesitate? We’ve already talked about how “he who hesitates is lost,” but as the race prepares to head into Italy tomorrow, let’s consider the Latin saying “carpe diem,” or “seize the day.”

Today, Cadel Evans seized a sudden and unexpected opportunity to gain time on Contador and Sanchez. He never attacked on the wet and twisty descent into Gap, but when he found himself with a gap (pun intended) over the two Spaniards, he went for it.

In the end, he only gained 3 seconds on Contador, although it may well have had a much larger psychological impact. Either way, he went for it. They say that fortune favors the brave; I encourage you to be brave, and seize the day, whether you are trying to win a local race or just beat your buddy to the coffee shop for bragging rights. Put fortune on your side, seize the day, and just go for it. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll know you went down swinging.

Steen A. Rose is an elite cycling and triathlon coach. He started coaching in 2003, and has been an Elite Coach with Training Bible Coaching since 2009. Steen is also captain of the Sun & Ski/Subaru Cycling and Triathlon teams. He has been racing since 1997, holds a Category 1 license, and has 13 state championships, 3 national medals, and 4 international podiums to his credit. He can be reached at srose@trainingbible.com