Taça de Portugal - Oliveira de Azeméis
After a break from racing that allowed for some time to get back to training, Tom travelled out to race the UCI Class 1 Taça de Portugal, this time without Seb, who decided to stay at home to hone the form a little more before returning to racing.
Conditions were hot and dry from the Friday to Sunday, resulting in a baking 30°C for the day of the race. Having competed at this very Portuguese venue last year and staying in the same accommodation as in 2014 too, the race weekend ran smoother than usual, albeit after a delayed flight and a typical nightmare hire car experience.
Arriving at the course on Saturday, here’s what Tom had to say about the track:
“After completing my first spin around the lap, it was actually a nice surprise to find it exactly the same as the previous year, which I’d liked and had been looking forward to returning to. Knowing the track pretty well, it was just a case of a quick refamiliarisation”
Tom’s lap of the course: http://youtu.be/dIdWfQK8TLM
With a false start ticked off after a spectator decided to blow a whistle inside the “15 seconds to go” slot, the race properly got underway at 2:30PM. Tom being gridded second row got off the line well and slotted into the top 6-10 after the first lap, initially feeling comfortable with the pace.
In his own words:
“The start was a fairly straight forward one to manage and after a short drag, dropped down a few sets of stairs and into a downhill, meaning the initial effort could be recovered from quite easily. In spite of this, this kind of heat means us Brits that aren’t used to it often need to knock the intensity down a notch or two in order to not over heat, and I evidently didn’t quite rein myself in enough.
By lap 3 or 4 of 7, I was really suffering with the heat and finding it nearly impossible to cool down. My speed dropped significantly and it was then a case of surviving until the end, breaking the laps down into chunks to try not to completely crack. Luckily, it seems most other riders were having the same kind of sensations”
Despite the fatigue and a few mechanical issues with the rear wheel, Tom eventually rolled in 9th.
It won’t be long before both Tom and Seb are back in Portugal, and the final leg of the series promises a technical course in the south of the country.