On The Road at the Giro d’Italia: Feeling ill and racing in the rain must be pretty grim

Martin Ayres

Martin Ayres has worked at Jaguar for over twelve years, and once again joins Team Sky as their performance engineer during the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta á Éspaña in 2013. Having not ridden a bike for over 20 years, Martin is a recent convert to the sport after his experiences with the Team in 2012 – including during their historic winning campaign for the Tour de France…

OTR8 300x225 On The Road at the Giro dItalia: Feeling ill and racing in the rain must be pretty grim

Martin and the support team have spent much of the morning running between vehicles in efforts to avoid the torrential rain.

The Italian weather gods are playing funny tricks again. It’s the shortest, flattest stage of the race so far and would have been an opportunity for GC teams to stay in the peloton and let the sprint teams take on the race. Instead, it’s going be a good few hours of complete misery. I’m not joking on this one – the sky is blacker than our team kit. It seems to be sucking away the little light that there is.

I know that most people would envy being a pro sportsman/woman. I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be professional. On days like today however, I’m pretty happy not to be a pro cyclist! Nearly half of the peloton has gone down with a bug and never mind racing in these conditions, coupled with a nasty cold must be really grim. It’s very difficult to get stronger again too, as your body has such little recovery time.

The support team (myself included) has basically spent this morning running in between vehicles and the team hotel trying to avoid a soaking, whilst the riders have sat in the bus, cursing the rain. One nice surprise is that we’ve got my old room mate Scott Mitchell (the team’s embedded photographer) with us today.  He will be shooting a ‘behind the scenes’ album of the work that goes into keeping the team moving during a Grand Tour. Scott was really the first person to take me under his wing on the Tour last year and share his encyclopedia of cycling knowledge with me, so it’s great to see him again. Be sure to take a look at his beautiful photos on the website!

OTR 71 300x225 On The Road at the Giro dItalia: Feeling ill and racing in the rain must be pretty grim

One of the more exuberant displays from the cycling-mad towns of Northern Italy.

We’ve been travelling through the stunning region of Italy called the Veneto, which reaches up from Venice and into the Dolomite ranges of the North East. Added to that, we stayed in one of the most beautiful hotels that I think the team has ever been in last night, looking over rolling slopes of picturesque Italian vineyards. The hotels can be a real lottery sometimes so it was great to arrive at such a beauty spot after a long day. With the weather and scenery like it was yesterday though, it’s no wonder that quite a few of the professionals live in and around the area.

Meanwhile the cycling fanatics are starting to really appear now. Northern Italy is the heartland of Italian cycling (something to do with all the mountains!) and the towns that we’re running through are getting pinker and pinker. I’m told that there is a lot of local rivalry between towns to see who can produce the best display, and it gets pretty fierce. We’ve been rating them as we drive through – my favorite so far is this cyclist, snapped yesterday. Got to run now – I’ll try and post again over the weekend, or on the rest day on Monday.

How to drive like a Team Sky sports director

Driving a team car in a race convoy can be a hair raising experience – from the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix to the narrow mountain roads of the Giro, all the while directing a team of cyclists. Team Sky took their Jaguar team cars on to the race track to refine their driving skills with the help or Martin Brundle in pursuit of the marginal gains general manager Dave Brailsford is so famous for. You can watch the video below…

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Follow Martin on Twitter : @teamsky_jaguar

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  • the5krunner

    I honestly don’t know how these guys do it. I’m pretty fit and sure these guys are uber-fit. But when you get a bug it knocks a massive chunk off your performance levels (well it does me any way) and these guys still have to race…up hills…in the rain. And most of them don’t get paid that much and will have a woefully short career. eesh

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