Published: 2nd March, 2012
Well it seems the boys are a little broken today so I afraid you have me for the blog. I am Paul Newnham (The Scottish MTB Coach) and I will try to give you a little bit of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a UCI MTB stage race. Aims of this race for the guys are two fold. Firstly to bank a 6 day UCI stage race in the legs to prepare the riders of the season and secondly to give them experience of high level international racing as they work toward selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. An additional bonus would be to bag some UCI points early on to help with gridding in the races later on in the season.
When the guys flew in I had all ready been out here in Spain for a week with the Scottish Junior squad on a training camp so had a bit of a feel for the lie of the land and more importantly worked out how much kit we could get into the trusty Kangoo hire car!
With just myself as the support crew I had to up-skill myself very quickly on every thing from bike mechanics to cooking, map reading and pretty much everything in between. I got sacked pretty quickly from the cooking which I think was a blessing for everybody as Gareth took over and the meals got much better from then on in!
The real challenge every day for me is the race within a race or the "feed crew rally" as it has been dubbed! I had hooked up with Keith from Wiggle (supporting Matt Page) and we were pitched into battle everyday trying to get to three feed zones spread across what seemed like a vast geographical area armed only with a pretty inaccurate map from the organisers and a tomtom with an attitude!
After collecting jerseys at the start the wacky races begin as support crews race each other to get the prime spot for the first feed. After day one and with the boys doing well we settled into the nice game of "Follow the Merida Van" although this did almost come to a disastrous end when we realised they had doubled their vehicle count for the day and although we were following a Merida Van it might not necessarily be going in the right direction!
As the week has progressed we have become a lean mean navigating machine apart from a being wrong footed by a dirt road that wasn't on the map or the tomtom on Stage 4 and resulted in a few "Colin Macrae" moments along the way! Once at the feeds the inevitable fight for position begins but a couple of years of world cup feed zone frenzy has taught me well and we managed to avoid any punch ups or dropped bottles. What is probably the hardest thing is the waiting. With such long stages and such rugged terrain the possibility for major mechanicals or worse are always at the back of your mind.
For us the strategy of riding safe and conserving energy is working well as the guys pick up places on GC all the way through the race by riding for an overall placing and not taking any silly risks. With one more day to go and 1 min to 10th the tension is building now for a grand depart on the final day and only one more day for the poor little red kangoo to endure!
For Full results see http://www.andaluciabikerace.com/
Dave and Gareth.
Elite riders Dave Henderson and Gareth Montgomerie race for Team GT and represent Scotland across the European race circuit.Read More By Dave
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