I'm currently racing and living in Spain. I have been racing across the country now for two months, mainly doing the national “Copa Espana” races each weekend.
They are Spain’s equivalent to Premier Calendars but there are many more of them! They have been my team (Opel Ibaigane) & my main focus for this part of the season. They are all clumped together at this time of year which I think is a good thing, creates more value and focus for the overall title and frees the rest of the season for stage races etc.
|The opening town laps before heading into the mountians in the Spanish Cup Murcia|
So far they have been super savage. Going over some of the toughest terrain I have ever raced on. Long or steep climbs through out the races, sometimes followed by a windy plateau rather than a descent which can be a killer when in the red.
A race I did a few weeks back in Eibar, a prestigious race with a lot of history, raced up many of the climbs featured in the Vuelta Pais Vasco and in the Vuelta Espana. Near the end of it we climb the steep Arrate pass, 4km at 10% average grade.
|On the attack in my first race of the Season, Spanish Cup in Don Benito|
I am living in a big old house in the centre of the village of Zeanuri with a couple of Spanish team mates. 20 mins ride up the valley from where I stayed last year in Igorre, the Basque region of Spain. The roads here have been great for training on. Many great routes and variety to choose from.
|Climbs above Bilbao when the the weather is good!|
It’s been a tough start to the season for me. After building myself up over the winter, I fell ill with a bad virus as soon as I got here and had to stay off the bike completely for over two weeks and proper training for about a month.
I'm glad I did though as it meant it hasn't reoccurred and plagued me for longer like it did in previous years. It meant I had lost a lot of fitness and gained weight which for many weeks afterwards meant a struggle to make an impact in races, especially when the terrain was so severe.
Good news is, I am coming back to form which is great, especially for the head. It was very frustrating just hanging about the place, when I was here to get stuck into the races. My Spanish did improve more in that period though!
Last weekend's Spanish Cup way down in the South near Murcia, I saw a big improvement on my performance from previous races.
I was climbing much better, able to get over the 11km climbs in the front group, I also bridged across and got in the early break of the day. We got chased down by a couple of strong teams as the break had a couple of riders high up the overall points competition. From then on nothing stayed clear for long as we hit the mountains.
I have linked a good video of the race, showing the fast pace of the race. I finished 22nd same time as the winner. It was also a really hot day as expected down there!
|Climbing in the Murcia Race, the day's winner from Caja Rural riding just behind me.|
|Staying near the front of the Peloton before the foot of next climb|
|In the break early in the race,|
I have some great weeks of racing coming up which I am looking forward to. I have two more hard Spanish Cups, two of the tough Basque regional series races which are always hard as they go over the same roads and most of the top teams in Spain do them
Then it’s the 4 day Vuelta Bidasoa which is a big target for this part of the season. It’s near the French border and the Basque city of San Sebastion. It’s an international race for U23 teams and mainly on tough undulating routes which should be good!
Thanks for reading
Link to Copa Espana Race Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4PVfscWn0UI#!
You can see me at 9:28
|The team presentation before the start of the Spanish Cup in Eibar|
|At the start of a local team time trail race near Mungia|
|Easy team ride the day before the race in Don Benito|
|A familiar view out the balcony in the first couple of weeks I was here...|
|The house overlooking the plaza, we stay in the two floors on the right side where the cloths are drying|
|A couple of cows pulling a concrete block out side the house..|
|Some of the local climbs|
|On the way down to a race near Madrid|