Monday, 12 May 2008

Ahead of the Giro, EVs hit the Dolomites

Paul, Tim, Nick & Robin joined by 7 other intrepid cyclists spent the weekend in Lake Garda and took on some of the local climbs that are similar in challenge to Tourmalet/ Hautecam.

They were guided by Eros Poli (left image). A native of Verona, Italy, Eros Poli is best remembered for his 1994 Tour de France stage 15 win of Mont Ventoux after a 106 mile solo escape. Eros, at 6 feet 4 inches and 187 pounds, was not a prospect to win one of the most difficult and famous climbs in the Tour de France. He escaped, however, from the peloton very early on and, under conditions of searing heat, arrived at the base of Mont Ventoux with a 22 minute lead. Steadily, the chase pack of climbers began taking back time. Arriving at the final 300 meters of the climb where the grade is 11% the lead had dwindled to 4 minutes. Eros survived Mont Ventoux and then hammered the descent to arrive in Carpentras to an incredible win by 3 minutes and 39 seconds ahead of Pantani and Virenque. His escape and victory earned him the nickname “Monsieur Mont Ventoux”.

Eros is now 45 years old and weighs 224 pounds (16 stone) and is proof that if you have legs like tree trunks and the heart of a racehorse you can still ride like fury and pulled our peleton along at a steady 22-25 mph into a headwind and was still first up the mountains.

For the weekend the 2 main climbs were Sduddzina and Santa Barbara which are each 11km rides with Sdruzzina averaging 10% averaging 9%. The yellow jersey for each climb amongst the etape virgin team went to Paul although if Tim could have avoided his puncture on Sdruzzina and avoided dropping his chain twice on Santa Barbara he would have been able to put on a better challenge. Paul’s time for Sdruzzina was 1 hour 16 mins and about 1 hour 6 min for Santa Barbara. So speed was fine but the relentless climb was exhausting and there was no way we could have done a second climb at that pace/ at all as we need to in the etape.
A fantastic weekend and thanks to Robin for organising it. I don’t think there’s anything to replace the experience/ training of a real 1,000m+ mountain ascent.

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