The Eco Cyclo team (Rob, Andrew, Nick, Pierre, Andre, Patrick and Andrea) made the journey down to Trento, Italy for the 8th edition of the ``La Leggendaria Charly Gaul``. Ahead of the team was 142 km of racing with 3960 m of climbing . Finishing with the famous Monte Bondone climb this was always going to be a hard day in the saddle.
The early morning weather was looking bleak, light rain with dark clouds on the horizon! No one was looking forward to descending the mountains in wet weather. However, the Gods were favourable and the rain cleared for the start of the race.
Following the international recognition of the Eco Cyclo Program and our mission, had VIP start numbers. Following the Eco photo shoot we had a short wait, which was made a lot easier by the Italian 'eye candy' having their photo with the local stars, before starting the race at 08.00.
As usual the first 10km was a frantic affair. Always good to be one or two riders off the front to avoid any chaos or strategically placed at the side of the peloton. Sadly a major crash happened around 5km into the course. Luckily for the Eco riders we all came through safely but many went down heavily! Unfortunately several riders crashed out in the first part of the course by pushing beyond their skills levels – many need to practice riding in a group and changing position safely!
The first climb of the day helped to string the field out. Rob shot off into the distance (never to be seen again). Andrew, Patrick and myself found ourselves pretty much together at the top of the first climb. The first descent of the day was a joy and personally I picked up many of the places I lost on the climb. At the bottom of the climb a nice pace line developed and shot along at 50km/h to the foot of the first major climb of the day. By this time the sun had come out to play and the temperature was on the rise.
The descent down was a bit boring to be honest but at least you got to enjoy the fantastic views. The transition to the final climb was one of the best parts of the day with the ride next to the lake taking away the thoughts of the final climb. It was at this point I was joined again by Andrew and we rode together to the foot of the next climb.
One of the real positives of the day was the overall respect for the route with most riders managing to either pocket their rubbish or leave it at the feed stations. The occasional gel packet was spotted but overall some riders seem to be taking their responsibility seriously about respecting the environment, however, the distribution of small bottles of mineral water must be regulated on our events.
The final climb was a lesson in determination for all concerned. Reaching the finish was justification for claiming ``I am legend” having conquered ``La Leggendaria Charly Gaul”.
It was a pleasure (afterwards) to ride this course. The organization and rider supported was excellent from start to finish and the well positioned feed stations on the final climb saved my day and I am sure many others. 10/10 for the course and rider support and 8/10 for the riders approach to keeping our environment clean.
Congratulations to Rob, Patrick and Andrew for their respective podiums, for the Eco Cyclo riders and to Patrick for coming second in his category.
Nick and Andrew.