Welcome to this blog, dedicated to my 2008 cyclo season with Team Agapedia-Münsterland

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Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Thursday, 1 January 2009


Dear readers,

In 2009 I will be defending the colours of the newly established Roeltgen Cycling Team

Hence, this blog will be archived. Future stories about my cycling activities can be found on the new website of the Frankfurt International Cycling Club or on Facebook. 

Best wishes,

Thursday, 23 October 2008

GCC - The final strait (...)

MUENSTER - Better late than never, a few lines on the final German Cycling Cup race of the 2008 season: the 3rd Muensterlandgiro. An event that changes its course every year and this time we went west of Muenster for what - unfortunately - meant quite a boring circuit of no less than 146 km! On the upside, it was one big lap, on the down side it was pancake flat, windy and the roads went straight ahead as far as the eyes could see..

The perfect recipe for some good old-fashioned bunch crashes, but let's stay positive. I kept myself out of trouble, which also meant that I lost touch with the frontrunners somewhere. Halfway through the race the group was still at least 200 riders thick, and when all the guys of the 110km event joined our course one had a tendency to get claustrophobic. At the end of the day, I came home safely in 114th spot and happy the long season was over. Before the race I knew I would still lose a few places in the overall GCC ranking due to some top guys having Muenster as their seventh event (it was my eighth and only the best seven results count for the final ranking). So, I ended the GCC in 8th place with 1998 points, which certainly makes me feel good. I would have signed for that back in March, especially given I am not a sprinter type. Moreover, I finished on the podium (3rd) in my age group (Masters 1) so that makes for a great conclusion of the 2008 season!

Poor guy Mike McManus, though. Leading the GCC for nearly the entire season and eventually only fifth and off the podium in the final ranking. Mike didn't participate in Muenster, and his results in the seven previous races apparently didn't make up for it. The GCC finally went to Thomas Kapuste of the Radon Cyclepower Team. Kapuste is a former elite rider who has recently found his old passion back. Second place went to Christian Schroth, who not so long ago was still riding for Germany in the U23. Third spot overall was taken up by Andreas Bollessen.

The final German Cycling Cup ranking.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

GCC - Hanging in, getting through

NUERNBERG - Newcomers to the annual Rund um die Nuernberger Altstadt event were warned: this one has crash festival potential. A 13km flat loop around the scenic old town to be taken 8 times with over excited 800 riders. All I wanted is to come through the race with the first group and score points to delete my Erlangen result from the GCC ranking.

It was very cold at the start with merely six degrees, but at least the skies were blue and cloudless for a change. I didn't mix with the breakaway attempts up front and concentrated on staying in touch with the leading group, which would always remain a good 100 riders' strong. My teammate Alexander set the pace for most of the race in fact. He was just as afraid as me of getting involved in a silly incident with his Hawai IronMan goal now just around the corner. I came out of my shell on the penultimate lap when we approached the 300 metre long "hill" - about the only option to try and get away from the bunch. Another guy had the same idea as me and as we took off, Thomas Kapuste and two other riders in our wake. But the hill was just not long enough and our advantage over the peloton was rapidly gone. Then, I just hung in there to finish at the back of the first group, avoiding a big crash in the process. 

I had seen a few, others saw plenty more: Nuernberg lived up to its questionable reputation again. A pity really as it is one of the best organised races on the German cyclo calendar and also one of the cheapest! 

As expected, I lost my third place in the overall ranking to Thomas Kapuste, who finished third in the race this time. I am fourth now, but can expect to lose at least one more spot after the Muensterlandgiro on 3 October. That's alright, I'm not a sprinter and the GCC is a points-based system. I could finish third in my age category, however. 

The race was won by Thomas Wickles, who clearly beat Nico Wernicke in the sprint.

Zuri Metzgete: another wet affair

ZURICH - After a sabbatical last year, the renowned Zuri Metzgete classic event returned on the calendar and I had marked the event as my final real race objective of this season, other than trying to retain a top ranking in the German Cycling Cup. Sadly, Zurich was hit by tremendous rainshowers,which curbed the enthusiasm of the roughly 1, 000 participants who could choose between 104 or 52 km races. 

I wrestled my way to the front of a large peloton on the first and rather steep climb, but I came 10 metres short of attaching myself to the leading group. They didn't wait up front so I had to take risks to bridge the gap in the fast descent. When - in pouring rain and with risk of aquaplaning - I missed a bend, I decided I didn't need this anymore so deep into the season and called it a day after 1 lap. Ironically, I got ranked 18th on that distance but in reality it's a DNF. 

Rebecca wrote a great report for Challenge Magazin. Please follow the link to that website.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Rad am Ring: 15th; Gerolfingen DNF

NURBURGRING - Last weekend I just managed to finish in the the top 15 of the German Cycling Cup race 'Rad am Ring' on the renowned Grand Prix circuit of the Nurburgring, by far the toughest event on the GCC calendar. Considering the level of competition and the scalps I took, I was reasonably happy with the result, which also boosted me back to third place in the overall ranking. A more detailed report on the race will follow in due course.

GEROLFINGEN - Yesterday I took part in the Deutschland Tour Race Day in the Bavarian village Gerolfingen. A 80km flat event BUT ending with an uphill finish, in casu the 2 km long and fairly steep Hesselberg. For once the kind of finish I like, so I gave the event a shot. Unfortunately I only got to climb the Hesselberg during the warm-up. Halfway through the second of four laps, two guys made a braking manoevre for I don't know what and took me down with them in their crash. Another rider fell on top of me. A small but deep cut in my right shinbone and a destroyed rear wheel: game over.

Finishing 15th in Rad am Ring (thanks to Wolfgang Schaaf -Challenge Magazin- for the pic)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Bochum: Schadenbegrenzung

BOCHUM - Last year, when I came back from a holiday down under, friends and cyclist acquaintances fed me accounts of horrible crashes, painful injuries and broken bikes that summed up a 58 km circuit-race in a Western German town called Bochum. An event to avoid in other words, and I set my eyes on the Chiba Alpencup cyclo in Landeck for the first weekend of August. But then I ended up fourth in the German Cycling Cup ranking, leading my age category even, so what else was I supposed to do but erase my memory of Erlangen and forget the Bochum stories of doom.

Luckily, things weren't as awful as feared. Not at all, in fact. Bochum breathed cycling from Saturday afternoon till Sunday evening, with races taking place continously, live music and loads of festive and promotional stands. Everything was perfectly organised, and the race circuit wasn't that dangerous if riders behaved properly. Unfortunately, crashes did happen again, but it seems to be unavoidable with over 2000 people participating in a nervous race, with a few tricky corners and fast descents. In my view, the biggest issue remains that the majority of participants in the German jedermann races is not used to riding in a group. Not a lot an event organiser can do about that of course.

Rebecca and I lined up at the starting line pretty early, soon accompanied by other Agapedia riders Britta, Holm and Ingo. I had been training properly again for merely 2 weeks and I was in no mood to start a chase from the gun to ride to the front of the group. My shape of the moment was too questionable for that. Joerg pointed out that I should be careful because of the netto time-rule (only the first 15 across the finish line are ranked accordingly, as of place 16 the race result is based on each rider's individual transponder time), but I decided to gamble. As such, I had a relatively relaxed start of the race, also because Holm Barkmann, my team mate, immediately showed his excellent form by attacking after 1 kilometre already!

Each lap had 2 climbs in them. Not very long but quite steep in parts. When we hit the first climb I shifted from the 53 to the 39 a bit too drastically, I guess, and my chain rolled off. Almost a copy of what happened when we hit the first mountain during the Berchtesgadener Landmarathon. With the whole pack still tightly grouped together it was not so straightforward to get off and put the chain back on. I was in the middle of the road with everyone zooming past left and right. As soon as I got back on the bike I sprinted up the two hills and caught up with my teammate Elmar as we began the descent back to the start and finish area. Thanks to him we managed to keep the first group within sight and when steam train Alexander Nikolopoulos, who had started all the way at the back of block 1, took his lead we bridged the gap to the leading group about a kilometre into the second lap of the race.

That was actually the most exciting part of my race. From then on I was happy to follow the pace and save my energy for a potential move on the climbs during the final lap. Meanwhile, Holm, Ingo and Michel Rademacher from Team Siemens put in solid attacks but nobody got away - as usual. Last time on the climbs, I accelerated but got blocked twice by slower riders who were being lapped. Alexander then went all-or-nothing in the long and straight descent to the finish and actually looked like he could make it! Unfortunately, he got caught some 800 metres before the finish. I kept out of the sprint, which wasn't too clean but at least for once crash-free. Nico Wernicke took top honours and becomes a major threat for Michael McManus' lead in the German Cycling Cup ranking. Wernicke is a fast and fearless sprinter, who won in Muenster last year and grabbed second place in Nuernberg, two out of three remaining events for the Cup... Christian Schroth finished second and Holm took a brilliant third podium place.

I crossed the line in about 25th place, right behind my main competitor in the Altersklasse at the moment, Andreas Bollessen. Due to the netto time I got ranked 39th, however.

Rebecca also enjoyed a good weekend and a fine performance with 24th place out of 78 women.

As regards the overall ranking of the GCC, I retained fourth place, but Holm (fifth) and a few top sprinters with one event less like Schroth and Thomas Kapuste are gradually moving up as well. The next stop is the Nurburgring on Saturday, 23 August. The toughest race on the German Cycling Cup calendar, with 140 km and about 3500 Hm...

Sparkassen Giro Bochum

Challenge Magazin with a great report and picture archive

Monday, 28 July 2008

Carnia Classic: Raindance

TOLMEZZO - Two weeks after the Dreiländergiro I hopped back on the racebike in Italy to assist Rebecca at the Carnia Classic in the rugged region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Two weeks of resting and worrying: would the knee recover? Can I still pursue my German Cycling Cup ambitions? Should I rest even longer? The mediofondo race of 107km (1970Hm) would answer many questions.

The Carnia Classic was part of the famous Prestigio series in Italy this year. It showed in the total number of participants, which quadrupled to over 2000. The granfondo course offered the ultimate challenge of course, the ascent of the fearsome Monte Zoncolan, 10km at an average of 12.1%. No fewer than 1182 athletes conquered the climb, showing a lot of dedication, not in the least given the apocalyptic weather conditions on the day! Antonio Corradini proved to be the best climber once again, one week after grabbing a slick victory in La Marmotte as well.

Our event did not feature the Zoncolan, but nevertheless offered close to 2000 Hm, thanks to the long (24km) and irregular climb of Sella di Razzo and the ascent to Ravascletto. For Rebecca an interesting testcase, following her good result in the Chiba AlpenCup event in Zernez the previous weekend. In Switzerland, after a forced break from cycling due to exams, she arrived easily within the first third of 107 women in a race that covered the awesome Bernina pass. Zernez and Tolmezzo were her first ever experiences in alpine cycling races.

As if scheduled, the rain began to fall as the start was given at 8 a.m. And what kind of rain it was! The biggest drops I've ever seen! I immediately pulled the brakes and put on my raincoat. It didn't prevent me from getting soaked to the bone, but at least it kept me a bit warm. Rebecca - without rainjacket - had a good pace uphill straightaway. As we were entering a major thunderstorm many people took shelter under any roof they could find. It kept raining hard for the largest part of the Razzo climb. Meanwhile, I was paying the price for the nerve-wrecking car drive through traffic-overloaded Austria the previous day (we left Munich at 10:30 a.m., we arrived in Tolmezzo at 19.15). Terribly bad legs, half asleep and happy to find a ristoro halfway up the climb and take a breather. But Rebecca kept going strongly. Even the 19% section 1km from the top posed no problem for her. Down we went through dense fog initially, and then through forests on often damaged roads. Yet, the descent went smoothly and we settled in a good group. The Enervit bars and drinks seemed to work for me. I gradually got some punch back and started pulling the group to the climb of Ravascletto. We hit a bridge, turn right for Monte Zoncolan, turn left for Ravascletto. Next time I'll turn right is what went through my mind, but right then I was more than happy enough to be riding without any kneepain.

It started raining again on the climb, which wasn't too difficult. But the final stretch to the finish, about 15km from Ravascletto, turned into a genuine waterfest. The skies opened big time and we just got drenched again. It got increasingly treacherous to take corners due to aquaplaning. And then it happened in the penultimate corner. I was leading a group of about 12 riders with Rebecca in my wheel. As I turned right, Rebecca couldn't make the corner and went straight on. There was no danger as there was no oncoming traffic, but the traffic guard basically slammed Rebecca off her bike in a reflex. Luckily, she was sliding and didn't really hurt herself and after a minute or so we proceeded and crossed the finish line in 4:32:52 (avs 23.53 km/h). That translated in rank 20 out of 66 finishing women (AK 10). A solid performance by all means, also considering our travel companion Elin Amundsen - an experienced racer with several wins on the German jedermann circuit - was 8th in 4:01:33. Lorenzo Borghini, also with us on the trip, finished in 4:53. He did shelter during the thunderstorm, though, not wanting to risk anything with a triathlon goal only a week away.

In the afternoon the sun returned to Tolmezzo and Friuli, and so we were able to spend a relaxing evening in Udine, the capital of the province and toast to the end of a fruitful first part of the 2008 cyclo season. Time for a break!