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Vuelta a Murcia done, now in the middle of Tour de Normandie
Posted on 3/26/2011 7:58:22 AM


Last time I wrote was when I was in Girona before Vuelta a Murcia…sorry for the late update! I had eleven great days down there and I really like the training in the area. Girona is a nice “friendly” town with many cyclists and I have my two team-mates, the Jack’s (Anderson and Bauer), in the middle of the town.

The fact that the weather is a lot better than home is a big bonus when it’s pre-spring. I did long steady rides with a few efforts every day and it’s so much easier to do that in temperatures of fifteen to nineteen degrees instead of zero to four degress, as it is back home.

The Vuelta a Murcia (2.1) came up and it was a nice race, I enjoyed it very much. That was maybe because of the visit by my family, daughter Nova (first time outside Sweden) and my fiancée Malin, or just a good combination of both. Even if there were long stages with a lot of big names and teams, I felt “home” there.

We did good work in Endura Racing and we were up there with the other teams and really raced it! But my aim for the race wasn’t the two road-stages, I was more a domestique then. It was the 12.4 km time trial on the last day.

The course was fast and almost dead-flat with a few roundabouts at a wide three-line road inside the city of Murcia. I felt ok during the warm-up and I felt that the legs was coming around, so I was very motivated. I started hard and tried to save a bit for the last five km, but when I got there I was already going flat out.

I raced with Vladomir Gustov (Saxo Bank SunGard) on the Cervélo TestTeam last year. He started one minute ahead of me and was the perfect target to see if I was going fast enough. With two kilomeres to go I passed him and it felt like I had a good run.

I crossed the finish line in provisional third place. By the time the race leader Alberto Contador had crossed the line as last man off, I was seventh - not too far behind! A very nice result for me, bearing in mind the good field who had turned up to race.

To France for next target:

I spent almost two weeks at home, really enjoying it after being overseas for more than five weeks. And now I’m in the middle of Tour de Normandie, a 2.2 race in France.

It started with a pretty technical prologue of 4.8 kilometres inside Caen. Nothing really “clicked” and my run wasn’t good enough. I lost sixteen seconds to another Swede, Tobias Ludvigsson (CykelCity), who did a great ride and won it.

Stage two was a different thing…it was 196 kilometres long and lumpy. A break went up the road and the bunch spread out over the road. I had a good time and felt more or less great on the bike all day. With 27 kilometres to go I counter-attacked after one by team mate Alexandre Blains and got a gap with another rider. But our work together wasn’t that good and I continued alone, time-trailing, chasing the stage victory.

I was very close but with five kilometres to go I got caught by two others. With my long escape I hadn’t too much left for the sprint and crossed the line as third, moving up to fifth overall

Stages three and four were split stages with four hours in between. We did great work together and managed to cover all the moves during the 83 kilometre stage three. Blain sprinted to sixth with me moving up to third overall and Jack Bauer to fifth.

Stage four was a pretty hilly one over 73km. We missed the break of the day, managed to chase it back during the last five km and did a great lead-out for Blain. He got seventh, I held my third place overall and Jack stayed fifth.

Stage five was a big day again over 190km. My race could have started better - I got a puncture at the first crosswind section. Cullum Wilkinson gave me his front-wheel and I started my chase in the cars. When I finally got back to the bunch I was at the last wheel of 130 riders in one long line! The bunch split in three but it came together after a few kilometres of hard chasing... And then the break went up the road.

I didn’t have to much left in my legs and the day turned into a big chase for the bunch. It was almost together at the finish-line but two guys from the break got a few seconds and Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne – Schuller) moved into the beautiful yellow, putting me down to fourth and Jack to sixth in the overall.

Making a big move for the overall lead:

Stage six was another 177 kilometres of lumpy roads and hard racing. This was the day for me to try something for the overall classification. I really wanted to size yellow after the stage and we in Endura Racing was up there and raced for it. I got away in a break just before the first bonus-sprint of the day. I don’t think that they saw me going up the road with two more and I won that one.

As I was three seconds behind yellow before the stage and picked up that same amount of time at the sprint, I was very, very close in the race for yellow. We still had two minutes lead in the break but now there was panic behind in the bunch as they heard I was up there.

There was another bonus-sprint coming up in 24km and I got a bit too exited about taking more seconds and dropped the two other guys with three kilometres to go to that. Then with two kilometres to go to the sprint I got caught. I probably spent too much power in the break and got dropped in a very steep hill just a kilometre after, losing a lot of time. Kaboom! I’m not Superman, even if I want to be!

But to win bike races you need to try hard, fully committed. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes not, maybe more often the latter, but that is the thing with racing…

We still have stages seven and eight to go, another update will come after the race. We are hope for a more positive day now. There have been a lot of bad crashes, losing Ian Wilkinson during the stage two finish with a broken collarbone, we really needed him… Jack Bauer was down in the same one but got up and going again and then Jack Anderson crashed during stage three… No more please!

Anyway, take care and stay upright!

Thanks for reading,

Alexander


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