Tour Of Morocco 2012

Monday 26th March 2012

by Dan Smith

Stage 10

As luck would have it, the final stage was one that really suited us. 100km to Casablanca ending with 5laps on a tight 5km finishing circuit, purpose made for riders with early season preparation at Croft and Prossick.

I got away for a half lap with an argentinian and a moroccan, but it was destined for failure with the south African professionals riding hard on the front to keep things together for their sprinter.

We tried our hardest to break into the south African lead-out train with a kilometre to go, but the velo29 lead out train was sadly lacking the strength to keep Matt at the front for quite long enough.  It was a good chance to practice though!

The 2012 tour was definitely harder than the 2011 version thanks to the horrendous side winds… Coming into a race like this on the back of 1 hour crits leaves us at a massive disadvantage compared to the vast majority of teams, but it’s an excellent opportunity to bring on the early season form for the UK. There is a good chance we’ll be back again in 2013.

Next week will see much of the morocco team riding in the Doon Hame premier calendar back in the UK

Stage 9

To Follow

Stage 8

Stage 8 in the mountains

Today’s 202km in the mountains was about as hard as expected… Climbing from the start of the stage saw the broom wagon filling up in no time!

DAn was lucky enough to be in a groupetto consisting of about half the peleton, which stuck together for the last 120km of the stage. Matt and rob were unlucky enough to have to work hard in a smaller group which was a few minutes further behind.

The descent from the highest point of the race was one of the scariest I’d ever done; one rider managed to get a corner wrong and slide under the crash barrier. Fortunately he clung to the side of the mountain long enough to be pulled back up again!

The finish was in the very touristy Marakech. We still havel no great results but do have some very good early season miles under the belt. Only 2 days to

Stage 7

 

Well today was genuinely a reasonably easy day (compared to the previous 6!). Although it didn’t go totally without mishap… The race, despite being officially neutralised for the first 30km due to a deep flowing river crossing our path… took off like a bat out of hell with attacks going left right and centre.

A relatively early break calmed things down, and the race settled into a steady pace for the rest of the day.  Rob was our best finisher in the ensuing bunch sprint (behind the 4 breakaway companions to finish in the top 30 or so. All our remaining riders finished safely in the peleton.

The less good news for the day is that both Richard and Joe failed to start today due to suffering from fever and stomach issues. Both were going well and it’s a real shame to lose them both… They are very disappointed not to have been able to carry on.

Tomorrow’s stage is back in the mountains… 202 km of purgatory!

Stage 6

an easy day?
We’d all been looking forward to today’s ‘easy stage’. Only 135km with no climbs.  Of course we hadn’t taken into account long straight open roads and a big wind.

Within 10ks we had turned so that we had the side wind from hell (again). After about 30km there were 4 or 5 distinct echelons all trying to keep pace with the front group. With a bit of luck Matt and I were both in the front group until 8km to go, when the s*** hit the fan once again. Not a bad day for the two of us though.

Joe had probably his worst day ever on a bike today. Having woken up with a bad case of upset stomach and also shivering, he spent a long day avoiding the time cut. Hopefully he’ll be back on form tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s stage promises more of the same, but only 4 days to go now.

One word from Meadows: Brutal!
Quote from Kipling: a nuclear bomb went off in the bunch.

Stage 5

things are looking up

It’s amazing the difference a day can make. Whilst still coughing and sneezing, things appear to have turned a corner for me personally on this tour. From having no sensations at all on the climbs to comfortably following the wheels I can’t help but feel happier… And more confident about getting round (although with 5 more days still to go there is plenty of time for things to get worse again!)

It was also a much better team performance today with 4 of us in the bunch going for the win. We were missing our team leader for the final kilometres unfortunately, but the signs are there that we would have been able to come together under the right circumstances.

The next two stages are apparently relatively flat, so if we get the opportunity we will be after a result

Stage 4

 

Update to follow…..

Stage 3

Today was described as ‘vallonée’ in the programme… Not mountainous, but vallonée  (valleys’ in English!). We had a 10km climb after 30km which looked remarkably like a mountain to the Velo29 team!  All 6 riders hung in but it was by no means easy. Fortunately the middle section of the stage was steady and controlled by the south African team holding the yellow jersey. There was a final climb 30km before the finish which saw Richard Meadows getting in a break briefly but also saw Jack, Matt and Dan go out the back of the race. The boys on form today were Joe, Rob and Rich.

Most riders will go to a dark place at some point during a stage race. For Rob it was stage 1 with his suspect belly, for Joe his crash also on stage 1 and stage 3 was the turn of Dan Smith with a dose of Man-Flu!

All riders are singing the praises of the Bikefood products, especially the Gels with the reusable containers. All the products used by the team are available at www.velo29.com

  

Stage 2

 

There were some organisational issues from the race today which caused a later start for the 90 mile stage. This would have meant finishing in the dark so the riders made a Peleton decision not to race but to ride the stage neutralised. A shame for the organisers but I’m sure everything will be back on track for stage 3.

No change to the GC.

 

Out takes from the riders.

Jack Rees at the end of stage 2, “How is the race Jack”, “HARD”!

Rob Orr – “bad gut’s and very very fast in the world’s strongest wind!”

Dan Smith – “Great race, sun is coming out, should have trained more” We could have told you that!

 

The race is gaining pace now and the riders starting to ride into form. We can start to expect the riders to start moving up the GC and looking for some strong finishes in the next few weeks stages.

 

  

Stage 1
Was the windiest race we’ve ever done! The first hour was run off at a ridiculous pace despite the side winds blowing riders off the road and sometimes off their bikes with alarming frequency! It seemed for a time there was there a big hammer, and every so often a rider would be thwack one off.

 

We were ‘lucky’ to have only one crash victim (Joe) and he wasnt too badly hurt finishing the stage comfortably in the groupetto.

 

All Riders finished safely and comfortable in the respective groups. Best place was Daniel Smith, just outside the top 50.

 

 

 

 

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