August 11, 2006 – Two days ago I finished the Tour of Germany and today I’m jumping back on a plane for San Sebastian, Spain where I will be racing the one-day Pro Tour classic.
The last couple of weeks have been hectic and most of it I have spent in Germany. Five days after the Sachsen Tour finished I was back in Germany for the Hamburg Pro Tour race-a one-day sprinter’s classic that twists and turns in and around the port city of Hamburg.
The race in Hamburg is the easiest of all the one-day Pro Tour races as it is fairly flat with only a few short steep climbs on the final finishing circuits. The climbs themselves aren’t actually that difficult but the pushing and shoving for positioning before the climbs is what causes most of the selection as the roads are narrow and you need to be up front going into them to avoid being behind the splits when riders sit up and let gaps open, or avoid being involved in the dozens of crashes that occur due to the fight for position.
I felt good in the race, despite having a root canal two days prior, and was able to follow some attacks in the final kilometers although the script had already been written from the start – that a field sprint was imminent.
From Hamburg the team piled in the bus for a road trip to DÃ¼sseldorf for the start of the Tour of Germany.
The races after the Tour de France have an odd dynamic to them as some of the riders that rode the Tour are flying fit, powerful, and motivated, while others are completely dead and want the season to finish. The riders that didn’t compete at the Tour, and had a break during the month of July, are either motivated but don’t have their race legs yet, or are still trying to find their form.
It is hard for anybody to be competitive against a rider that is coming off the Tour, motivated and still feeling fit and fresh enough to compete, as the Tour simply gives a rider an extra gear in his legs and the ability to push the pedals with power. In Germany, Jens Voigt was clearly in this mode. He had power on the climbs, power on the flats, and more motivation and desire to attack and win than any other rider in the peloton – and that he did. Not only did he win the overall classification but he also easily won three stages, and nearly a fourth if the charge from the sprinters hadn’t caught him at the finish line.
For our Discovery team the race went well. Gusev won the prologue and led the race for five days and eventually finished fourth overall. I felt okay but didn’t have the legs I was hoping as I was feeling a little under the weather throughout the week due to my tooth. With a peloton of strong teams the race was very controlled – the flat days were dominated by the sprinters and their teams, and the hillier days were controlled by the teams looking to win the overall classification.
In the coming weeks I hope to freshen up and find the fitness I need to perform well at the Tour of Spain. Our team leader, Tom Danielson has been training like mad to improve on his 7th place performance from last year. He looks fit and ready and I think he has a good shot at finishing on the podium in Madrid.