Basque Country Racing July

Robert Hassan | Friday 3rd August, 2012

Hi everyone

I've been racing in the Basque Country with Ibaigane Opel for over three weeks now.

I loved the two weeks I was here last year, as the terrain and racing suited me and my best result was 10th in the Beasain Elite Classic.

I am currently staying in the village of Igorre, about 20 km SE of Bilbao. It is where the teamís HQ is based and a local hotel, Hotel Arantza , is kindly putting me up for the 2 months I am here for.

I've had a recurring viral infection since the start of this year, so itís been a frustrating season after my good Premier Calendar and Basque season last year. Iím hoping the better weather here will make the difference for me to stay well and perhaps get a good result before the end of the season.

So far I have had four races including three elite and one U23. Coming into racing here, Iíve had nowhere near the form I was in when I was here this time last year so it been tough going in the first few races.

My first race in Soplana went well as I got into the lead group of around 15 riders. Each of laps had two hard climbs and as it was an U23 race, it was full on attacking throughout the whole race. Eventually my fitness let me down and I blew up in the run in to the finish, crossing the line 24th.

The next day was the Elite Classica Beasain race. I did well in it last year, but from the gun I had nothing in the legs for the climbs what so ever. They had not recovered from the day before. Each time it went upwards I drifted back. I got dropped from the main group with many others on steep 3rd last climb of the day.

The following weekend was the 85 mile Pamplona Bayonna Classic, I was 14th in it last year. This time, though, it was run in the opposite direction so it was big climb to start off with, followed by a long descent from 800metres altitude, to a lumpy last 20 miles.

I punctured with a bit of glass on the long descent, then got in the break for half an hour until we got brought back just before the lumpy hills at the end. For me they were a killer. I would normally love them but the state my legs were in near the end of the race, they felt never ending! I blew up on the last hill of the day, a couple of miles to the finish in Bayonne.

The next Tuesday, I had new race I have never done before in a village near Santandar. It started in the afternoon so it was a very hot start to the race, over 30 degrees.

It was a fast flat start then half way into the race we hit 3 big climbs, the last two going over 600 metres and at 8 Ė 10% at times.

I felt a big improvement in myself in this race as I was recovering and climbing well.

At the bottom of the 2nd climb, a group of 8 of us bridged across to the leading trio. As we were climbing, the pace was fierce as the next group were not that far down on us. A few more joined us but I began to struggle at the halfway point up the climb. An injection of pace from a rider made me lose the wheel and I had to go my own pace the rest of the way.

Two guys joined me just before I hit the descent but the group were too far ahead of us to catch them and we got scooped up by a large group of 20 on the draggy valley road at the foot of the final and toughest climb. 

I stayed in the group to the village finish and sprinted to 19th. The winner raced for Geox last year.

I was happy with my improvement in this race and look forward to a big block of races I have got coming up in August where hopefully I will be fitter and stronger and up for the win.

Thanks for reading


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