Monday, June 19, 2006 11:40 PM

Baby Giro: A disappointing end to a good tour.

The Baby Giro was a 10 day tour beginning in the South of Italy in a town called Caserta and finishing up in the dolomites (Northern Italy) in a town called Bolzano. This year’s tour had generally shorter stages than usual averaging between 120-150km, but it was defiantly made up for in the amount of hills (and mountains) we raced over during the 10 days. For this tour there was 30 team’s of six riders in each, therefore 180 starters.

The first stage was an 8km hill time trial. I have to admit that probably my biggest weakness in this sport is Hill TT’s.  But despite that I did everything I could to loose as little time as possible. I ended up placing 45th @ 1:15sec.

The next couple of stages were relatively similar with reasonably hilly terrain and all having hill top finishes. Despite the hill top finishes all of the stages came down to bunch sprints. Matt Goss was able to capitalise on this by winning stage 3. The best place’s I managed were 14th on stage 5 but was always in front group.

Stage 6 was a pretty cruisy day with an extremely hard finish. For about the first 120km I just did the best I could to hide in the bunch, then we came to the finishing circuit which was 2 laps of 12km with a 500m wall @ 22% which the stage finished on top of. This climb was so steep that I can’t figure out how they got the bitumen to stick to the road without slipping down the hill… Today was the first stage were I was right up in front group and feeling pretty good. It came down to a drag race the last time up the hill where I managed another top 15 result.

Stage 7 was a flat day where I was able to hide in the bunch all day and use it for a day of recovery. The stage finished in a sprint so we tried to set it up for Matt which we managed reasonably well and he place 3rd,  another good result in a high class field.

Stage 8 was another hilly day which finished with 5 laps of a circuit with a 3km climb at about 7%.  It wasn’t until this stage that I finally found my legs, and therefore ended up being one of my better days in the tour. I think this was because I have had so much racing lately I needed a few days to get going. The stage was fast but not too hard until we got to the finishing circuits where the speed on the climb just got faster and faster lap by lap. I went with a few unsuccessful attacks on the 2nd last lap and then managed to make front group the final time over the climb. A small group slipped away on the run into the finish and I sprinted in for another top 15.

Stage 9 was the penultimate day of the tour. It was only 120km long but I was up in the dolomites, and included a 21km climb which averaged 7% with the last 6km averaging over 10%. Then once over that it was down the other side and then up to the finish, which was an 8km climb which averaged over 10%.  This was the most disappointing day of the tour. Apart from having a bit of an off day myself, the whole way up both of the climbs riders were holding onto cars and getting dragged up the hill. So instead of finishing in the top 30 for the day I place 56th. It was very frustrating for our whole team because we all had people passing us all day holding onto cars which not only saved their legs but had a big effect on the results at the end of the day. There was a big positive for the day and that was that Matt Lloyd (our team climber, AKA rock spider) came 2nd and moved up to 3rd on GC which was an awsome result, and also helped us forget the frustration about all the cheating that went on today.

Stage 10, the final stage was another flat day for the sprinters, where we tried to set up Matt Goss for the finish but we were all feeling a bit worn out from the tour including Matt and he ended up in the top 10. Matt Lloyd finished in 3rd place overall in the tour (which was an awesome result) and I came in at 41st.

Click here for Baby Giro Photo Album.

Or to view the full tour profile click here.

Tomorrow I head off to Austria for a couple of days to go and inspect the Road Worlds course for September.

Bye for now.