I set off from Madrid at 9am this morning, driving with Alfredo to the team launch presentation which was at the Hotel Los Lanceros in El Escorial, which was roughly about a 50 minute drive from my flat. I was checking the weather forecast and it seemed fine, with some mist being forecast for the team training ride after the presentation, which was what I was looking forward to the most.
Arriving at the presentation in the hotel, immediately I was presented with a team kit bag, with a full team kit inside. I was buzzing, while changing into the new 2017 Pizzeria Espanola team kit. The team clothing are manufactured by Sporting Pursuits, and are the best quality I’ve ever tried on. Wearing the jersey feels more like a skinsuit… it’s super-tight, but a very comfortable fitting.
I was checking myself out, seeing if my collarbones were sticking out, which I was glad to see that I’m as lean as hell this season, weighing just below 72 kg this morning, which is at least 5kg lighter than I weighed at the beginning of the 2016 season. But I had forgotten how light and skinny the Spanish riders are!. Anyway, I’ve got full team kit, you name it… jerseys, bib-shorts, arm warmers, legs warmers, tracksuit, gloves, jacket, t-shirt and more, plus a team bag with hot wheels on it! Bonus!
There are quite a lot of new faces in the team this season, and some of them are very young, just turned from being a Junior to U23, so it should be a very interesting year, with new talent in the team.
During my first week in Spain, I was working my ass off on the Spanish language, and I thought I would be able to cope to understand what they were saying at the presentation this morning… but nothing, nothing at all. I did not understand at all. I had forgotten how fast they speak! So I’ve got to keep working hard, learning more Spanish. So during the presentation, I didn’t understand, only a few words. I was looking forwards to the training ride, so I kept asking my teammate when would we start riding.
After the presentation ended, we started to head out on the team training ride, and some of the riders couldn’t join us for some reason, but it was still a big group. Obviously we went to the mountains. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the mist wrapped around the white mountains. The mist was super low.
I starting to make good relationships with the new riders. Building a relationship is a very important thing in sport. Some of my team mates can speak English pretty well, but I was forcing myself to speak Spanish, to improve quickly. I was probably speaking Spanish really badly!
Everytime when we hit the climb, the team car passed us, and the director was shouting us to go faster, so we put the power down. During the training ride the rain was starting to fall, because we were climbing higher into the clouds. El Escorial is at a pretty high altitude.
Reaching the final climb, the director told us that we were free to attack. I couldn’t resist, but I was the first one to attack, getting my old style back, as I’m training myself this year and not using a coach. I didn’t look back, and kept on pushing, while looking at the power. The person who passed me, which didn’t surprise me, was Ignacio, the best climber in our team. The new youngster Rodrigo Alonso was hard at his wheel. Rodrigo is 185cm tall, and weighs-in below 60kg! I was very impressed with him… he’s the man to watch.
Anyway, I finished up being not too far behind, which was pretty good against the pure climbers. I haven’t done any high intensity this year yet either, just pure base-miles, so I’m very happy with my performance this early in the season, compared to the pure climbers.
After 2 and a half hours, we stopped over at Pizzeria Espanola to eat some delicious pizza. I had to ride back the 2 hours to Madrid, so I knew that I needed to eat. I was getting too cold while it was raining outside. They served pizza with meat… okay I haven’t been eating meat since last summer, but I didn’t care, and I ate as much as I needed. It was delicious, with fat creamy cheese, plenty of fat!
After I was finished and satisfied with food, I was ready to head back to Madrid. My teammates were telling that I’m crazy riding back out there in the rain for 2 more hours. One of them even offered to give me a lift… even his parents were encouraging me to come with them too… almost like they’re begging me not to go out and suffer more! I thanked them, and kindly didn’t accept the offer. I simply told the team this… “Soy de Inglaterra”… meaning, “I’m from England!”… They laughed their head off, knowing what I meant.
So off I went, in the miserable cold weather on the way back to Madrid.
So it was a good day today. I’m really excited to start racing with the team again. Unfortunately, due to lack of support from the supplier, we won’t be getting a team bike this year. I was gutted when I had to hear that, but I quickly accepted it, as I’ve got a bike with me. I just need to keep it in top condition for both training and racing, then it’ll be fine.
It will be a good season!
Thanks for reading
Foto: Alvaro Garcia/Pizzeria Espanola
— Pizzería Española (@EquipoPizzeria) January 29, 2017
Corredores y autoridades en la presentación. pic.twitter.com/YlDQI8h9gZ
— Pizzería Española (@EquipoPizzeria) January 29, 2017
El equipo elite-sub 23 Pizzería Española-Sporting Pursuits se presenta este domingo a las 10:00 h en San Lorenzo de El Escorial pic.twitter.com/kziJdCndJX
— FMCICLISMO (@FMCICLISMO) January 26, 2017