This time last year I was still back home in Australia preparing to go to the USA for a season of racing. VISA delays meant that I did not leave until early April so I had a lot of early season preparation.
This year has been very different. I have been racing since January and this weekend will be my 22nd race for the season! And there is plenty more to come.
On top of the heavier schedule, the racing here in Europe is much harder. The level of the field is higher and it reflects in the speed of the race. More people are wanting to get into the early breakaway which means that the race goes much faster from the start. In today's GP Nobili, we covered the first 100km in less than 2hrs!
Climbs are longer, higher, faster and there is more of them. Couple this with more riders in the race and smaller roads, and it means that position in the peloton is the most important element of the race. If you are not at the front of the race, then you have no chance of finishing at the front of the race. The problem is, you are fighting with 200 guys for the same position on the road! If you are at the back of the race, or even in the middle, you have to brake and sprint out of every corner and fight for your place. There are more crashes, more risk and you use much more energy than the guys at the front.
So far, the 2014 season has been a big learning curve but, as they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. I am definitely in better shape than last year but the harder racing means I feel like I am not going as good!