Good Vibes in Italy

Hi Guys

Just raced the ETU Sprint European Cup in Cremona, Italy and finished 6th.

Cremona is an awesome little town in the Lombardy region of Italy about 50k Southeast of Milan. I rolled into town around 11pm on a warm Friday night with the Van Barneveld's (Mr & Mrs) following the GPS through narrow cobbled lanes and pedestrian only areas and to our hotel. We pulled up in our little white Peugeot rental right in the middle of town to find that the ground floor of the building was a restaurant and bar, absolutely packed and raging with people (read HOT chicks) spilling out into a big town square. The whole town seemed to be pumping with a live band and a great vibe. It was pretty tempting to head out for a couple of beers and enjoy the night once we'd checked in. Lucky I always travel with a good set of ear plugs! Next morning we awoke to find a completely different scene out the window with a blanket of white tents filling the streets with Saturday markets. Later that afternoon it was dead quiet like a ghost town.

So to Sunday's race! I came in with no points pressure anymore after my good result last week in Madrid (see post below). I decided to go ahead and race just to get a fast 5k in the legs before going up to altitude in a couple of days. I was also ranked #1 which meant a free hotel, entry etc which was a first for me!

With 75 guys and plenty of names each getting 50cm of real estate on the startline the 750m swim was always going to be another scrap, so it was important to be out up front. With my ranking I got the best spot right on the end of the pontoon and everything went to plan. Just like last week I felt great. I was out of the water 3rd and able to push the pace early on the bike to try and open some gaps in the field. I'm really feeling strong on both the swim and bike at the moment. The course was very technical down narrow streets with plenty of potholes and cobbled sections. We got a lead group of around 20 away, but it was too big to get everyone working, so we were caught with around 5k to go resulting in a 40 strong pack into T2.

I ran out feeling great and led the first of 3 laps. I was joined by a group of 10 or so for the second lap and was able to recover from going out hard. On the last lap I finished well but wasn't quite able to go for that last gear to make the podium. I was 6th, 11secs behind the winner. Marty didn't have a great day, unfortunately missing the front groups on the swim but then posting the 3rd fastest run of the day. Some days you can be in great shape and still walk away with no reward...

I'm happy with the race and it gives me a bit of confidence in how my run is tracking after not really flying off the hard bike in Madrid last week. I'm looking forward to now having a 4-5 week break from racing to stoke the engine up at altitude in Font Romeu to make the final preparations for London in August.

I was VERY tempted to extend my stay in Cremona and enjoy the after race party and all the town had to offer, but was strong for the second week in a row, and chucked everything in the car and set off on the 700k drive back to Sete, France. I will have my party one day on the horizon, but right now there are more pressing matters at hand!

Thanks for the help of my family, sponsors and supporters.

Full results are here;
(Run course measured at 5.15km)

Also a Photo Gallery courtesy of Ali Van Barneveld here:
(Copy and paste this one into your browser to view).


Career Best Result on the Big Stage in Madrid

I’ve just had one of the best results of my career for 15th in the World Champs Series race in Madrid on Saturday. I’ve worked really hard for this since finishing uni and going fulltime 3 years ago. It feels fantastic to put one together for everyone who supports and believes in me. I've changed the way I do a few things and am making better decisions under new coach Pete Pfitzinger. More than anything I am doing everything I can to get to the Olympics next year. This is at the front of my mind when I get up every day and Saturday was a step in the right direction.

I had a perfect swim feeling great the whole way exiting 5th. I got on the bike and drilled it up the first hill to make the lead pack of 12. The pace was on up front the entire 40km and we rode about 1min45 into the chasers. A dream scenario for me, I helped pull some turns when I could, (mostly on the downhill and flat just after where there were no tv cameras!) while at the same time conscious that I’d need my legs to last the run. I ran sensibly; not wanting to be a hero for 5k and end up 30th. Three passed me but I paced myself and saved a bit for the end. Ryan Sisson’s group caught me 200m out, but I was ready and dug deep to hold them off in the sprint. I ran 32:40 odd, well behind the amazing Brownlees up front but a solid finish to a good all round race. It was awesome to see Ryan, Clark and Doddsy right there as well having very strong races.

For now; the plan has always been to shift my focus to running fast from this point in the year on. I know I have a great run in me and with the technical changes I've made with Pete over the last months and the big base I have laid down over the NZ summer I can't wait to get into some session work and bring it out. Once I've recovered I’ll head up to altitude to Font Romeu to make that last improvement to try to give myself the best chance to qualify for 2012 in London in 9 weeks. Should the possibility arise that there’s a place unfilled on the NZ Games team I've shown I can swim well and bike strongly in the big ones and could assist a NZ medal contender like Bevan.

Now its back to the NZ base in Sete, near Montpellier in the South of France. This weekend I have a sprint distance European Cup in Italy to top off my points score and guarantee my start in London in August. I'm ranked 1st on the startlist and will wear number 1 for the first time in an ITU race. Should be fun!

Check out the Madrid race highlights video on www.triathlon.org 

Happy James.