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Alexander Wetterhall's Blog
by Alex

Season so far...

I've already ridden 19 races / stages this year and it is good to be back racing again! The team is very strong this year and all of us are going very well, and riding very well together - that gives extra motivation! Being the top team in UCI Europe Tour rankings through April with UCI Europe Tour leader Jon Tiernan-Locke has been amazing.

 

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I started the year with the team training camp in Mallorca and got some good climbing and proper hard training done. We entered Mallorca Challenge in the end of the camp and got three hard races and my personal best came from day 2 when I was in a long breakaway taking Mountains, Combined and Most Aggressive Rider awards.

The following two races after Mallorca were two one day races in France -  Les Boucles du Sud Ardèche and Paris-Troyes. Donn't have any good memories from the first one but in Paris-Troyes I had a good go at the final. The podium came from an early breakaway that I was in, but I had bad luck with a puncture and after a slow wheel change I was back in the bunch again…  We were sprinting for 4th place and I managed to get myself into the sprint in a good position making the most out of it and crossed the line in 5th.

It was one week between Paris-Troyes and Vuelta a Murcia in Spain. One race I have been looking forward to during the winter. I didn't have the legs to climb with the best in the first stage and lost time but the following day was the one to go for - a 12.3km Individual Time Trial. I was 7th last year and wanted to do something even better. I'd felt from the start that my legs were responding well and I gave it all. I had and crossed the line at 2nd best time of the day, afterwards it was only one more rider who was faster and I finished 3rd on the stage.

Next up on the schedule was Coppi e Bartali in Italy, a very hard race with a lot of climbing. I was aiming for the 15km Team Time Trial and the last 14km Individual Time Trial. We did a great TTT, even though it was our first time together and managed to get 2nd at the stage just 8 seconds off Team NetApp's pace. The ITT could have been better as a stomach bug took all the energy out of my body the night before and I just managed to get in at 26th place. A great team performance and also a very strong ride by Paul Voss - he were going very well during the week and he took 6th overall!

 

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Then it was on to the Tour Doon Hame in Scotland, Endura Racing's home race and one of the British Cycling's Premier Calendar series. We did very well during the three stages and won all three stages. 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall; Jonny McEvoy, Erick Rowsell and Scott Thwaites. I won the KOM classification and Scott won the Points classification.

 

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I then flew straight down to Spain and Vuelta Castilla y Léon where we had three rough stages. Strong wind, rain, hail and even snow made a hard race even harder. I tried in a breakaway the first day and we came almost all the way to the finish but got caught inside the 4km mark. The following stage was a disappointment for me as I didn't have any power or energy left after the effort I did in the breakaway. The last and third stage was the one with most meters to climb. I was going well until the big boys pulled off the fireworks and got left behind in what was left of the bunch. Pretty strange to climb over 1870m when you got 30cm of snow next to the road, it makes it even more interesting, especially when decending!

After that I had a welcome trip home to Sweden again for two weeks of training before I head down to Spain and Girona the week before Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid to get some longer climbs in.

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In the mid-winter

A new year has just began and I'm really looking forward to it. I hope you are looking forward to it with the same expectations as me.

 

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I think that you guys out there believe Sweden is terrible during the winter, freezing cold and non bike-able. OK, the two last winters have been like that and the weather from mid-Europe and up has been terrible too. We had half a meter of snow at this time last year and around -10C but now it's more like autumn, and that is a lot better.

I have plenty of good hours in the saddle with great company with my two good mates from my academy time - Gunnar Grönlund (the 2011 British Hill Climb Champ) and Matthias Wengelin, a fast MTBer. Together with being home a lot makes me very motivated for the upcoming season, to settle down for a bit at home and build a good platform during the winter. And to be involved with Endura Racing that really wants to move forward feels great! It can't be other than a good upcoming year.

At the same time I want to thank you all for the great support during 2011, has been amazing, and wish you all a great start of 2012.

Next up is the team launch the 14th of January in London and after that day the wheels will start turning again!

 

Photo by Joolze Dymond | www.joolzedymond.com

 

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Full-on schedule again!

Last time I wrote was just before I entered the second part of the season. A lot has happened since then and we have done two very hard races. It feels like the break I had has done me good and I got some form and motivation out of it.

We have had some good results in the team as well out of the past two races. First up was Tour Alcase (UCI 2.2) in France, a race for the climbers more or less. I managed to get through with better legs than I started up the week with and Alexandre Blain got the team's best result with a second at stage four. Behind that result was some great teamwork and that was what we did the complete week – We're starting to get going very well together. Another good team effort was our 4th place at the TTT opener of the race.

 

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After the week in France I returned to Sweden, more or less repacking the bag, kissing my family good bye and then off to Tour of Utah (UCI 2.1) in USA. We had a few days there before the start of the race and that helped us a lot to get to know the warm weather and the high altitude. They say that Tour of Utah is the hardest stage race in America and that could be true. 10000m of climbing in the warm weather, avgerage around 36C, and then add the altitude up to it!

We had a good tour and surprised a lot of people and teams. And we, Endura Racing, flew home again with the highlights as Jack Bauer's stage win at stage 2 after a solid team effort, we all celebrated in the last 300m, (will never forget the gap Jack Bauer got after my kind of lead-out before the crucial corner with 700m to go or his face when he looked over his shoulder before he hits the throttle, nice memories!). Jack Anderson's Most Aggressive Rider Jersey, also Stage 2. A lot of top 15 finishers and my highlight, the Stage 3 Time Trial.

I was going out there aiming high - to get up on the podium. I knew it would be very hard and it was a lot of great time trialers to start at Miller Motorsports Park where the 15.5km time trail was held. I felt good before the start and I made it all-in and was not afraid of blowing up to early. I raced as if it wasn't a race day tomorrow and emptied myself totally. Died a bit with 5km to go but managed to maintain the pace over the finish-line and the clock stopped at 17.51. I held on for the podium for long but Levi Leipheimer (Team Radioshack) crossed the line, as second last rider out, and knocked me down to 4th. This is a very good result and I'm very proud of the performance, beating many great World Tour riders, but I was so close to that big goal.

 

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A great bonus of this effort was that I finally got selected to do the World Championships TT in Copenhagen the 21st of September, representing Sweden. I wasn't selected 2009 when I won the Swedish National title but now I'm up for it. Hope that my preparation and training will be good enough and that I'm having a very good day in Denmark, I really looking forward to it!

Until that day, there's a lot of hard work to do and hopefully a big race to enter and get the best out of - Tour of Britain (UCI 2.1) - if the team selects me. Next week I'm off to high altitude again, this time to Andorra for a training camp with the team
 

Take care and all-in!

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Building for Part Two

That is exactly what I have been doing for the past three weeks now, building up some shape for the second part of the season. I have been doing good training on the bike with different kind of efforts, power-training etc. and this combined with some time in the gym.

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I have not done this before in the middle of the season and it was a long time ago I saw the gym from the inside. I don't know why, but I have always been thinking that I can do everything on a bike, maybe I'm wrong. Anyway I have been giving this a try and we'll see if it's working for me.

I got company from my friend, and old "classmate" at the academy, the past three days at the sessions and it has been good. It's great to speak a few words between the efforts and catch up a bit, then when it's time to turn the screw nobody wants to be the guy who's been halfwheeled...

Before this period of training I had the Nationals and one of my main goals for the season, the 50km Time Trail. I finished 3rd after a good effort and just beaten by winner Gustav Larsson (Team Saxobank – Sungaurd) and Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky). A result I'm proud of!

 

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The Nationals was followed by a complete week off the bike spend with my family in Gothenburg's archipelago. We had a great week with good weather and I really enjoyed my time there.

This month and a bit in Sweden have been great and done me good, I feel motivated and ready for part two of the season. Bring it on!

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An Improver and Developer on Wheels

I was thinking about typing about something else than just racing, about what we are doing in Endura Racing except being bike riders. Of course we are trying to go faster than everybody else at the races but at the same time we are showing, testing and giving feedback at the kit we are using, something I feel for very much!

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When you have been riding several seasons you get a lot of experience of many different brands, how something should feel and what is good and what is not. I started as a bike rider in the end of 1997, then MTB and just for fun, now 14 years later as a roadie I still enjoy the time in the saddle very much and with a lot of effort I've made it my living – living the dream!

And to have this experience and to use it for developing and improving Endura's kit feels very right for me. They are taking in feedback from all the riders in the team, every month and we are telling them to make small adjustments to make the time at the bike more comfy for us and for the rest of the bike riders out there.

The latest in testing is now fabrics for the coming Endura jerseys and at the same time I'm testing out a new skinsuit. I'm giving feedback to get these into production in Scotland for the team (to start with!). Some other guys in the team are testing a new pair of Endura bib shorts, so a lot is going on here and there´s plenty of things to do.

Developing and testing at the same time as racing is something I feel very much for!

And now an update in the past races:
Last time I wrote was before Tour Doon Hame in Scotland, our best overall result was Jack Bauer in 3rd place and winner of the KOM jersey in that race.

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After that I was going backhome for a few days before it was time for the travel down to Poland and my first road race there: Szlakiem Grodow Piastowskich (UCI 2.1), a hard race with a lot of nice climbs on very rough roads – hard is the right word! We ended up getting Iker Camaño in 4th in the overall GC when he got 3rd at the last hilly stage.

Now I´m already half way through Royal Smilde Olympia's Tour (UCI 2.2) in Holland and the stages has been very windy and pure crosswind racing every day, with crashes and big splits as a result. The good thing is that I´m starting to get going again after a few hectic weeks of pollen so we´ll see what the result will be after this six day event and from now on.

This was all for now, thanks for reading!

Photos by Larry Hickmott | www.VeloUK.net

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