Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Tour Down Under 2015 - preview & predictions

Arguably the biggest race of the Australian cycling calendar (our own road nationals are pretty awesome too!!), the 2015 edition of the TDU is about to kick-off.

The Santos Tour Down Under is a perfect early-season kickstarter for the World Tour peloton.  Six relatively short stages (plus a criterium prologue) at a maximum distance of 151km. Three sprint stages, two hilly stages (let's not pretend they're mountains!), and a criterium to finish things off on the last day.  Nothing too stressful (unless the weather gets hot!).

So - who is going to win???

Normally, the Australian Road Nationals, held a week earlier, are a great predictor of which of the Australians will do well.  In fact last year, the same riders filled the podium in both races in 2014.  However, this year's Nationals were a very different affair. The strongest team had no real leader, and the favourites didn't have much of a support team!  So for the overall at the TDU, we'll ignore those results this time around...

The Favourites for the Overall

Ritchie Porte (Team Sky)

The Tasmanian comes to the TDU in fantastic form. Healthy, riding well, and with a terrific team in support, Ritchie Porte has a terrific chance to finish the week on top!  I reckon he'll take the leader's ochre jersey this week.

Cadel Evans (BMC)

The sentimental favourite - this will be the plucky Australian champion's final World Tour race before retirement.  No-one can question his motivation, and unlike Nationals he will have a very good team riding in support.  While I think Ritchie Porte will win, I'm hoping Cadel will come up with the win!!

Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin)

Worst. Sunglasses. Ever.

The lanky Canadian, a previous winner of the Giro d'Italia, could go well here. There are no indications as to his form though...

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo)

'Dodger' also comes to the TDU in good form. The Australian is a multiple World Time Trial Champion is coming towards the end of his career, so won't have many more chances to win this race.

Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale)

A young Italian rider who is emerging as a genuine Grand Tour rider (& contender), hopefully he'll be bringing some early-season form to Australia and will be racing for the win.

The Sprinters

The Tour Down Under is an early season feast for the sprinters.  Four of the six stages are for them, not including the People's Classic criterium prologue.  Andre 'The Gorilla' Greipel (LottoNL-Jumbo) has taken a huge number of wins here in the past, but won't be lining up this year...

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin)

That hair!!

Probably the best road sprinter in the world right now (and also the best hair in the peloton!) - Kittel will unquestionably be the man to beat on the flat stages this year.

Heinrich Haussler (IAM)

The newly-crowned Australian national champion, Heino will be looking to show off his new champions jersey with some stage wins.  His experience will help him here.

Other names to watch out for will be Greg Henderson (LottoNL-Jumbo), Steele Von Hoff (UniSA-Australia), and the brilliantly named Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida)

So that's it!  Should be a terrific week of racing!  Australian fans can watch it live on Channel Nine (& their digital channel GEM) - the details can be found here.

C'mon Cadel!!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A new year begins - the 2015 plan

So a new year has begun!! Time for phase 2 of the "become an awesome Masters cyclist" plan...

I've got a very rough structure to the plan, split into a few phases:

Phase 1 (Nov-Dec 2014) - do whatever the hell I want, just so long as I'm doing some sort of exercise.
Phase 2 (Jan-Feb 2015) - start to bring an emphasis on 'cardio/endurance' exercise, specifically swimming, cycling, and running.
Phase 3 (Mar-Jul 2015) - focus becomes more specific again, onto cycling and running.
Phase 4 (Aug-Sep 2015) - Cycling, cycling, cycling!!
Phase 5 (Oct 2015-onwards) - get my racing licence again...

Phase 1 went fine, mixing up all sorts of exercises and just maintaining the rough habit of doing something most days.

Now onto Phase 2. While I still plan to keep things pretty mixed up and with lots of variety, I'm going to make sure I have a reasonably steady diet of cycling, running, & swimming in amongst it all. The focus will be on endurance in all of these, and slowly starting to build some length to these efforts over these two months (both in time and distance).

I'm also hoping to sneak in some events. Mainly some parkruns (I'm lucky to have a few close by), a cycling gran fondo, and maybe even a short triathlon.  Nothing serious, but just to enjoy the vibe of 'events', be amongst other like-minded people, and feed off their energy!!

Now, I just need to cross my fingers for a few sunny days to make things a little easier...!!