Challenge Sardinia, PRO start.
Remember that feeling on your first day at secondary school? New faces, bigger kids, new rules. That was my feeling in the few days running up to Challenge Sardinia. It all sunk in when the PRO athletes were asked to attend a press conference. Here I am standing next to some of the best athletes the sport has ever seen. People I have looked up to for the last 5 years, our names and faces shared on a hall of fame board. Big case of feeling out of my depth!
Race day dawned. With a storm threatening, we were greeted with letters taped to our saddles informing us that if we started with a disc wheel, the race referees had the authority to pull us out of the race if they felt the conditions become unsafe. I’m guessing this was a tactic to get the stubborn athletes to change their rear wheel. For me however, my Parcours disc was the only rear wheel I had.
A little warm up in the sea and then it was to the holding area where the male and female PROs were kept until we were called forward. Not knowing anyone and the majority of the field speaking Spanish or German I lingered at the back awaiting a British voice! Luckily Mark Buckingham must have been doing the same and the ice was broken by offering to help him with his wetsuit. Ryan Fisher then joined us for a quick race brief. You’ll get use to the name dropping by the end of this…
We got called forward and somehow I managed to find myself next to Bart Aernouts. We were off and a few strokes in I found myself pulling away from Bart and getting into a group with Trevor Wurtele. I stayed with this group for all of the first lap and half of the second lap. On the second lap we got split up as we had to swim through the tail end of the Age Group athletes. Swim pretty uneventful and finished in 25.32.
Out onto the bike and my beautiful new Argon 18 E117 Tri head down and putting the power down. The first 10km of the bike was a flat out and back before it kicked up the first climb. I was riding well and was happy with my power figures. The descent was twisty and tricky with the wind coming from all directions. My thought process being let’s just get to the turn around then you’re pretty much safe with a tail wind home. In my opinion it wasn’t the rear wheel that was causing the problems it was more the front! Once at the turn around and heading home, it was fast!!! We turned off onto the coastal road home which was lumpy. Beautiful but lumpy. Coming back into T2 I knew I would have lost around 10-15 min to the leaders. For me I wasn’t worried about that, I just wanted to give the best performance I could. Having a quick look at my NP power I knew I was around 30 watts higher than I was at my last race, Weymouth. This reflected in my feeling, I felt good but just wanted to put a good run together. Had I ridden too hard? Will I be able to run as well? All thoughts going through my head.
Onto the run, Carly being the loudest support as I left T2, also confirming to me I was 16min down on the leaders. 16 min. If I held that gap over 4 hours that would be within 8% of this magical % that BTF require for a PRO licence. Let’s just hope the winner isn’t a running god… Cue Vincente Hernandez, a Spanish Olympian and ITU whippet.. I ran well. Just as well as the majority of the top 10. More importantly for me just as well as I did in Weymouth after riding nearly 10% harder than Weymouth.
Drum roll please… As Vincente Hernandez didn’t have my 8% in his mind (selfish) he ran away with it literally to take the win by nearly 4 minutes to Bart Arneouts. I came in 23.49 down making it 10% not the favourable 8%.
What next? Remove BTF from my Christmas Card list…
To be continued..
This season has been a blast, a lot learnt, unforgettable memories and some great friends made along the way. All of this wouldn’t have been achieveable without the great support I get, firstly from Carly, living with me day to day is not an easy task! Mark for providing a great coaching plan and outlook into my training. Mr In a Spin for providing the best bikes in the business. Torq Nutrition Ride Harder and Fusion Sport .