As well as having the season final of Game of Thrones on, last Sunday also had the Vermiglio round of the international Italian series. The course was up in the Val di Sole valley a bit higher than the location for the world cup rounds. Naturally being in the alps, the course had its fair share of climbing. A solid three-minute climb at the beginning of the lap lead into a steep descent with multiple lines through the rocks and roots. The second half started with a short steep climb followed by a grassy downhill and uphill combination. This was fine in the dry but when the rain came it was a slippery mess with the grass and mud mixing and forming a nice coating on everything!
I was feeling good after the week of training in Lermoos. I was confident, even with the Italian elites like Cannondale’s Marco Fontana and Bianchi’s Gerhard Kerschbaumer taking to the start line. The rain had come down the night before and it was still raining at 2:30pm for the start. It was only light but I was still thinking about how slippery the grass paddocks were going to be, considering that the start went up a tight double track and straight into the grass descent. It would be close racing until after that section.
After my run of dismal starts, I was hoping things would change and with a third row call up I was in a good position to do so. The call up was a bit frantic though, as everything was in Italian, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I could see the call up boxes they had used for the previous races and no one was in them. I thought this was strange, and went further down the track behind the team tents to see everyone lined up about to be called to the start line. I quickly got to the start line and tried to de-layer as fast as possible. Then after a moment to get my head together, we were off. I had a great start and moved into 9th. With such a narrow initial climb, the positions stayed the same until we were over the top and into the slick grassy paddock. The grassy climb was a mess from the earlier races, with ruts and super slick spots everywhere. On the last pinch out of this section, I lost traction and unclipped. But I couldn’t get off or keep going! I was stuck trying to paddle with my feet to get me up. I got to a stickier section and was able to get off without sliding down the hill although I did kick some poor chap as I dismounted. With such a small field, I was off the back but kept calm, had some tea, and got on the back of a small group for the flat section.
I was riding fast but not really racing and was stuck with three other riders for the first two laps. Something clicked at the end of the second lap though and I attacked the group, gaining a small advantage for the flat section. I attacked the big climb and descent and had moved clear of those three riders. I caught the tail end of four riders that had been out of sight on the previous lap. I passed one but the other three had more of a gap. The flat section was coming up and I wanted to just get through it and make the catch on the big climb.
The mud had been building up around my drivetrain by this stage and just after the feed zone my chain fell off and into the frame. It got lodged in a small gap between my chain ring and frame and is usually hard to get out but with all the mud it was proving impossible. By this stage, the guy I had just past and gapped had come past. Then the three riders from the first two laps got past. I eventually got the chain back on, remounted and climbed a small rise only to see the 80% man just in front of me, and I was pulled! The four riders that had past me had got through, but I must have been outside the cut off by only a few seconds. I couldn’t really believe it, if I had just walked my bike a few metres past him I could have continued the race. Maybe I’d only have done one more lap but I could have still moved up a few positions!
It was a bit disappointing, but there were positives to be taken from the race, which is a first for this trip! It’s onto Austria now for the last two races of the trip. Hopefully I can have a good end to the first part of 2014!
Click Here for some cool photo’s of the race!