Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Volta ao Algarve


So I’m home now after the Volta ao Algarve, which, like always, proved to be very hard.

The stages were all mammoth 200k slogs on twisty-turny roads through the hills. The stage finishes were a bit sketchy and the whole thing was topped off by a 35km TT through the hills on bad roads which were wet for the first half of the race.

Volta ao Algarve
Breakaway – Stage 2, on the biggest climb in the region.

I suppose this epic parcours was chosen to try and compensate the reduction in number of stages this year (four versus five in previous years) but I don’t think the ProTour guys liked this idea very much as they were complaining bitterly.

Next year things will be better for sure.

Being set against ProTour riders with everything they need to perform and several days racing in their legs, right from the get-go, is tough – I was surprised we were able to race as well as I did.

Truth be told my team has a budget that would pay for just one second-rate ProTour cyclist, so imagine the difference.

I got my race bike (one that fits this time) just last Thursday, we haven’t got a coach and we don’t have any sport science. We’ve got our bikes, the support of our families, and our fans.

In some cases (the older cyclists on my team) we have parallel activities to sustain ourselves and our ambitions to at least have a family and make a living. So to be able to put up some sort of a fight against ProTour riders in their final phase of preparation for the spring classics is extraordinary.

The supporters during the race gave me goose bumps.

I’m a humble guy and lead a very quiet life; I put my head down and work and don’t give much time to image or socialising or anything like that. So to hear my name (and all it’s variations; “Tomás”, “Tom”, “Thomas”, “Tomas”) shouted so many times and across the region made me feel very touched. I wished I could give them more than just a breakaway, but that’s all I had in the legs this year. Next year I’d like to do better.

Tony Martin did an unbelievable TT on the last day, he put five guys out of the control time, which is very unusual in time trials; even the likes of Danny Pate and Nelson Oliveira lost four minutes to him.

I lost seven and I thought that was fairly good.

Henao was on another level on Alto do Malhão. He gave me three minutes on the climb and was about 30” faster than my best time in training. I was bonked and had just chased on after a puncture, so I was in no state to do a decent climb.

I need to learn to economize effort better when riding in the peloton. In the second stage I attacked and attacked till I got away, it was to and from my home town, so an extra effort was merited.

Theo Bos, with all this mad get up (smooth helmet, TT suit and a bike about as wide as a pencil) won the stage – I was caught with about 15km to go.

Volta ao Algarve
That horrid, uppy-downy wet TT.

I felt really touched by all the support during the past while, it’s truly appreciated and I hope I and the team and put up some good performances this season.

Next on the cards is a couple of classics and the Volta ao Alentejo. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll be doing because I’ll be having a nose job (correct a deviated septum) sometime in the near future.

Until next time, T.

Volta ao Algarve