Velo Veneto - Ciclismo Italiano !

Stories from the Velo Veneto bike racing camp in Castelcucco, Italy

Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I'm a 50 year old kid who loves to race bikes. I operate a bike racing camp in Northern Italy. When not in Italy I have the good fortune of living in one of the best places to ride, the Northern California Wine Country.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Final Day...Thanks Velo Veneto !

Velo Veneto Racing Camp – Italy - Day Ten: Today we did a 50 mile ride in the Dolomites. We climbed four passes all of which have been included in the Giro at one time or another. I’ll just let the pictures tell their own story. It was a great ending to a fantastic trip.

Thank you Velo Veneto!
Dave Linden
(Our route this day went over Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella, Passo Gardena and Passo Campolongo ... ed)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day Nine

Velo Veneto Racing Camp – Italy - Day Nine: Well it took me six races but today I finally made it into the winning break and finished in the top ten! To make it even sweeter, two of my team mates were in the break with me and that resulted in our team winning the overall team competition as well. This is the first time Velo Veneto has won a team trophy for nearly 10 years. Here is our proud team with our trophy.

Today’s race was in Carbonera which is an hour southeast of our hotel. It was another mostly flat circuit race but it did have two significant motorway overpasses to “climb”. One of them came immediately after a hard left turn which made it even more significant. Here’s a shot of the race registration area.

The race was about 40 miles and consisted of eight laps. The start was the fastest I had seen all week and by the beginning of the second lap there was a six man break established with out any of our team represented. The field caught the break halfway though the second lap but immediately three riders from the same break attacked again. A few riders chased and then we hit the sharp left turn at the base of the overpass climb. The race then exploded as riders tried to bridge to the break over the climb. I was the last to try. I totally buried myself and it must have taken me 30 seconds to get across. I almost didn’t make it across the last 15 meters. Finally I did make contact and we had a 13 man break established with six laps to go. Here’s a shot of me leading the break with Mateo sitting fourth.

The break worked well together. I suffered for the first couple of laps but then settled in. We eventually opened a gap of over 90 seconds on the field. The sprint was won by a fellow who used to be a track sprinter on the Italian Olympic squad. I finished ninth and was very pleased with that result. Here’s a photo of me receiving my bag of groceries from the podium girl.

It was a great way to end our week of racing. Tomorrow we are going to take it “easy” and do a 50 mile training ride in the Dolomites hopefully going over four mountain passes, all of which have been used in the Giro. I should have some good photos of the Dolomites for tomorrow’s final edition of this blog.
Thanks for reading. Dave Linden

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 8

Velo Veneto Racing Camp – Italy - Day Eight: Today we traveled to the town of Ponte de Piave for yet another perfectly flat circuit race. The Omnium is now over so the fields are smaller. Our field was only about 50 riders today. Ponte de Piave is a “holy” place for Italian cycling with a monument and shrine to the famed “Campianissimo” of Italian cycling, Fausto Coppi. Our race finished right next to his monument.

This race was located right in the middle of some vineyards. In fact, most of the cars parked under the grape vines:

Once again the four juniors and myself would be racing together in the Supergentleman field. I’m pretty sure the old guys are getting pretty sick of having to chase the juniors around. We were doing 12 laps today for a total of only 30 miles. Trevor established a break on the second lap which proved to be the winning move.

Logan, Mateo and I worked to control the field with Logan doing the majority of the work and totally demoralizing the entire filed. We eventually had to lay off because the Italians actually began threatening us with bodily harm! Here’s a shot of Logan controlling the field with me in fourth spot. He’s even smiling!

On the last lap Mateo and I got a few hundred meters on the field but were caught about 500 meters from the finish. I finished around 15th but it was a victory for the Velo Veneto team as Trevor dropped his break away companions in the sprint.

Racing in Italy is a really big deal as you might imagine. Even a local race like this is complete with a podium and podium girls. Here’s the boys receiving their awards for the
“Debutante” category.

Tomorrow is our last day of racing. See you then.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 7

The Velo Veneto team returned to racing today in Sarego and we finally made an impact on the local racing scene. Sarego is about an hour west of our hotel. On the drive there we passed through Vicenza, which is where Campagnolo is located. We also passed the remnants of a walled city (called Marostica) probably from medieval times.

Once again the four juniors and myself would be racing together in the Super Gentleman field. We had heard there might be a one kilometer climb in the race today and when we arrived in Sarego, it certainly looked hilly enough to support such a climb.

However, much to our collective dismay, the race again was perfectly flat except for a single small bump over a canal. We would do seven laps for 35 miles. Three of the juniors would play a major role in today’s race. Here’s a picture of (left to right) Logan, Matteo, and Trevor.

Logan initiated numerous breaks, some lasting a lap, some lasting only a few minutes. He was by far the most aggressive rider in the race. Matteo and Trevor also raced hard. However, as we began the final lap, three other riders had a 10 second gap. Then Logan, Trevor, Matteo, myself, and another couple of riders jumped hard to close the gap. I looked back and saw there was about a 50 meter gap behind me so I shouted at the juniors to kick it hard. I sat up to slow the chase while they jumped away with three other riders. Mateo and Trevor buried themselves and launched Logan into the final stretch. (The pack caught Matteo and Trevor in the last kilo.) Logan and the two others fought it out in the sprint and Logan finished second. I continued trying to control the field until our sprint started. I finished about 20th. All and all a great result for Team Velo Veneto.

Here’s a picture of me leading through one of the corners.

Finally, here’s a shot of the finish of the Gentlemen’s field which was the race after ours.

This race was the last of the Omnium event. Although I did not have any top ten finishes and thus no Omnium points, I still had a great time racing.

We have two other races left over the next two days. Then on Sunday we are planning a ride in the Dolomites which will include some of the Giro climbs. By then, I should be ready to go home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 6

Today was another recovery day and I really needed it. Four of us rolled out of camp at 9:00 AM under cloudy and threatening skis. I left my camera at the hotel fearing it might rain (which it didn’t). We did a steady 45 mile ride on what the locals call the “Canal Route” which circles around the Montello following a couple of canals. It is a very popular cycling route and we must have seen over a hundred other riders including a couple of large teams complete with team cars.

We were back to the hotel for lunch followed by a quick nap. Then it was off to another of the numerous bike shops in the area. Although I did not have my camera with me today, I thought I would include some shots I took during our first rest day on Monday.

It's back to racing tomorrow and we heard the course might have a 1 kilometer climb in it. Once again the juniors will be racing with me in the Supergentlemen field. My quest for a top ten finish continues.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Guest Blogger - Day 5

Today’s race was within a stone’s throw of Saturday’s race, about 45 minutes away in Vigardolo. The course was also similar, totally flat except for two overpass crossings of the motorway. We would do nine lapsfor a total of 35 miles. Once again, the supergentleman field was big today consisting ofabout 70 riders. One big change was that the juniors in camp would also be riding in the supergentleman field with me. I would no longer be the “lonely Americano”.

A good break of about six riders got away on the second lap with two of our Velo Veneto juniors driving it. One of the other juniors and I blocked and I really thought that the breakwould make it. However, all of sudden the older guys in the break refused to work and it all came back together. Almost immediately another six man break went and this one would not come back. Unfortunately there were no Velo Veneto riders in this winning break,

The sprint consisted of a 500 meter straight shot proceeded by a hard left turn after a narrow two kilometer straight run-in. That run-in was quite an adventure. There were still 50 riders at that point and all of them were trying to get to the front. There was lots of yelling and pushing. I rode the last two kilometrs with my elbows sticking straight out but still only managed to finish around twenty-fifth.

Here’s a picture of the next race charging through the start-finish. This was a combined field of the “Veterans” (40-47) and the “Gentlemen” (48-55) classes

Here’s picture of our camp director, Pat, in front of the bar where registration held.

Since none of us have accumulated any Omnium points, we have declared Wednesday a rest day and are planning on an easy 50 miles in the foothills of the Dolomites. I hope to have some nice pictures as a result. See you tomorrow.

Day 4 - by Dave Linden

Velo Veneto Racing Camp – Italy - Day Four: Today’s race is about an hour and a halfaway in Vescovana. As usual my start time is at 2:30 PM and the temperature is pushing 90 degrees. The course consists of five laps of an eight mile mostly flat course. There isone little hill as we climb and then later descend off of a levee. The supergentleman fieldwas big today consisting of about 80 riders.

Italians do race differently than we do. One example is cornering. In the US, the pelotontries to carry as much speed through the corners as possible. In Italy, the entire field hitsthe brakes hard at every corner and then sprint out of it like crazy. I’m told it’s a tacticaimed at creating gaps and dropping riders. I really pissed off a bunch of guys when Idove inside them on the sharp turn at the bottom of the little descent off the levee. Theyall started shouting at me but I can only guess at what they were saying.

Also, the prizes in Italy are quite different. Everyone that places (usually top ten) gets thesame prize, a bag of groceries!

The racing today was similar to Saturday. Team mates constantly let gaps open right near thefront and you spend most of your race jumping across the gaps. I must have jumped across adozen gaps today, Unfortunately, I chose the wrong time to drift back into the field and a breakof eight riders got away without me with two laps to go. Seven kilometers from the finish I didmanage to get away in a three man group but we were caught about one kilometer from the finish.
I jumped in as the field screamed by and finished somewhere around 20th..

Here’s picture of one of the “younger” groups coming and going at the start finish.

Tomorrow things change a little as the juniors are going to start racing in the supergentlemanfield along with me. (Turns out woman and juniors typically race with the supergentleman.)
So, tomorrow I will no longer be alone in the field but will have four team mates.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dave Linden - Day 3

Velo Veneto Racing Camp – Italy - Day Three: The closest race today (Sunday) was well
over two hours away so Pat declared today a rest day. We did an easy (but hilly) 25 miles in
the area around Castlecucco including a brief stop in the nearby town of Asolo. The roads and
the views were simply breathtaking.

Here’s this week’s Velo Veneto team and staff:

Here’s a photo I took in the hills above Castlecucco. This is a two way road, not a bikeway:

Later in the day we drove about five minutes from the hotel to watch a UCI U-23 race do
four circuits up a very steep hill nearby. This was at the 100k mark of a 170 km race.

Tomorrow it’s back to racing!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Day Two ... by Dave Linden

We loaded up the Velo Veneto van at 12:30 PM and headed south. There would be five of us racing, myself and four juniors from Ottawa. I would be competing in the Super Gentleman class at 2:30 PM. The juniors would be riding in the “open” class at around 5:00 PM. After an hour’s drive we arrived at the race. The course was a four mile circuit of which we would do nine laps for a total of 35 miles. The course had lots of corners and was flat except for two motorway overpasses which we would have to climb and descend each lap. The field was big but not huge. I’d guess about 60 riders. The race went from the gun and I found myself right at the front for the first two laps. In fact, I lead the field through the start finish the first two times. I tried some early breaks but nothing really ever got established. After the first two laps I settled in and let others do the work. The race was pretty fast given that everyone in the field was over 56. The average speed was in excess of 25 mph. Here’s how the Italians seem to race: A team goes to the front and purposely opens a gap letting one of their riders escape. Riders then start bridging to them one by one. It was common to have a break of five riders form and get 100 meters off the front. However, they always seemed to eventually sit-up usually because there were two many “passengers” who had bridged across and were now sitting on.

Any ways, the finish was about one kilometer after the last overpass. I wanted to be in good position coming down that overpass. On the last lap, a group of three riders were 100 meters off the front going into the overpass. I bridged across to them over the climb pulling a couple of other riders with me. So, with one kilometer to go, I was in a six man group with a very small lead. Unfortunately the break slowed down a bit with 500 meters to go and the front of the field swarmed by us announced by the sound of metal scraping against pavement as some riders went down behind me. I jumped into the swarm but only managed to finish about 15th overall. All in all, it was a “great” introduction to Italian racing.

Here's some info from my PowerTap ...
Duration: 1:19:10
Distance: 33.6 miles
Max Power: 1060 watts
Normalized (Ave.) Power: 322 watts
Ave. Speed: 25.5 mph

Friday, August 08, 2008

Dave Linden ... Guest Blogger

By Dave Linden
Fying Rhino Cycling Club
Clarkston, Michigan

Velo Veneto Racing Camp – Italy - Day One: I arrived at Marco Polo airport in Venice without incident. I then made a quick cell phone call and located Pat Carroll, owner of Velo Veneto, in the crowd outside baggage claim. That was followed by a 45 minute drive to the Hotel Montegrappa located on Castelcucco at the foot of the Dolomites. We then had a quick but wonderful lunch in the hotel. I then checked into my room and assembled my bike for a 30 mile roundtrip ride to the local bike shop that issues Italian racing licenses. On the way over, we rode through one of the stage finished of the 2007 Giro. While in the bike shop, I was looking at a life size poster of Mateo Tosatto who was a stage winner at the 2007 Tour de France. The bike shop owner said something in Italian and pointed to the parking lot. Pat translated saying that Mateo was in the parking lot. Sure enough, he and his Porsche were less than 100 meters away soaking up the Italian sunshine. Talk about total immersion in Italian Cycling!!! The local bike shops are unbelievable. The second one we stopped at had a Pinerello Prince complete with Campy’s new Super Record 11-speed gruppo and Mavic’s all carbon wheels in the window. They had more models, color, and sizes of Sidi’s that I could ever have imagined even existed. And this was in a relatively small city. Finally, Pat mentioned that Alessandro Ballan lived less than a kilometer away.

Tomorrow afternoon the racing starts. Here’s what an Italian racing license looks like