In sport and in particular sometimes you just have to be patient and that word epitomises the first half of my season. After a respectable campaign in the Nations Cup and some well guided team work in UCI stage races I could feel my form was picking up but lady luck hadn’t been quite on my side. It was as if she was saying ‘a bit more work lad and I’ll give you your due’. A solid ride in U23 Paris – Roubaix culminated in a mass crash entering the velodrome was a frustration I had no choice but to accept.
Working with Kenny at EPiC since early spring we have had sparse time to train in blocks and much of what we have done is through our close work between a busy racing schedule. The balance of this is achieved by analysing what I am actually doing in races and looking at the profile of the next period to see where I need to be stronger. It is so easy to overlook the effect of racing on the body: some races can be brutal anaerobically all day and other days a race is neutralised as the big teams call ‘Piano’.
With a two week block at home following Ronde de L’Oise a UCI 2.2 stage race I had the opportunity to prepare for the Irish National Road Race Championship a race which I had targeted as a key event. A combination of recovery and some very select short V02 and steady endurance work brought me confidently to the race. From previous years I felt the race would go early with hitters like Sam Bennett and Dan Martin among others vying for the title. As I thought the start was relentless and I felt like I was in every move. When the break was formed I found myself and two team mates, a perfect scenario for both myself and my team, An Post Chain Reaction. Unfortunately that meant we had to play the team game and it just didn’t work out for me but the team had a really good race. I finished 5th and 2nd U23.
Another two week break again followed to focus on the U23 European Championships and whilst the Nationals I expected the race to be largely formed in the early laps I expected the opposite in the Euros. Training was back to the long hours but the emphasis was more on maintenance of threshold power with anaerobic capacity drills late in the block before my taper. I felt really good, nearly too good after the training block and found myself going with all the moves. I think I left the legs in the first couple of hours as I just didn’t have it at the end to sprint for a better placing from the select group at the finish. I would finish 17th.
Hopefully lady luck will have seen the work I am putting in and cut another little hole in that cloud to shine on me…