Well the year kicked off quite well, I was part of the SUBWAY team for the tour of Wellington, and Matt Yates from our team managed to take out overall which was mint, so a big thanks must go to Graeme Stone, Carboshotz and Subway Lower Hutt, as the team was really well organised and managed for the whole tour.(free subways,ace!)
From there I flew straight out to Italy to join the New division 3 pro team Miche, so was looking forward to getting into the racing over there with fellow Kiwi Geoff Burndred who was also in the team.
Things were interesting from day 1, as soon as I arrived at team HQ the manager suggested I should go out and do a 5 hour ride to "clear the badness from the plane" out of my legs, I had a much better idea of sleeping for the next 16 hours so took that option.
The next day Geoff turned up and we both got a look at our team bikes for the rest of the year, and by Christ they were pigs, decked out with old
campy Daytona 9 speed from about 5 years ago, probably worked really well back then but by now were really worn, and to make matters a lot worse I was on a 55cm bike( I normally ride a 60cm) so I had a bucket load of seat pin showing and had to flip my stem upside down to get anywhere near
comfortable, only to be told by the manager that my position "is not beautiful to the eye" I told him to get me a bigger frame, and he suggested all my problems would be fixed by getting a bigger fork for the bike? Go figure on that one.
The team house didn't really hold much joy for us either, there were 3 small bedrooms with 4 riders in each on bunks, a bathroom and a kitchen, so you were always in really close proximity with the other riders and didn't have a lot of room to yourself which cracked me after 2 weeks.
The house was filled with eastern block riders, Russians, Ukrainians and the like, a polish guy and a wee flyweight from Spain who liked to walk round nude a lot. The Russians and that didn't look like they´d ever learnt how to smile, and were real mongrels, pissing in the sinks,
stealing food and clothing (watch out for that Elden).
The end came for me when I went to see the manager to get my first 2 months pay, and he flat out refused to pay it and told me I wouldn't see the money for the rest of the years wage either, so I was just fizzing.
Bugger this I thought and started planning my great escape from Italy. I had already conquered all in the house anyway on the PS2 so there wasn't really much else to accomplish. I got an email from Craig Thompson asking if I wanted to ride with him in a top amateur team called Maximise-Almero in Belgium and took the invitation straight away.
One day after getting that email I was gone from Italy, I walked, bussed and trained my way to Pisa, then took a Ryanair flight to Brussels. Only Geoff knew what I was up to. To the rest of the team I had just completely disappeared off the Miche teams radar, never to be heard
from again. It took the manager 3 days to realise I had gone before he sent me an email asking where in the world I was. Racing here in Belgium suits me a lot better anyway. I'm not really the sort of build that's made for climbing hills in Italy all day. Gordon McCauley is here in the same team as well, as he got the same sort of treatment from his pro team.
I'm just about to shoot away over to Austria for 3 one day races, before heading back to Australia at the end of April for the Oceania games in
Sydney, followed by a 2 week training camp at the AIS in Adelaide, so there should be some tired boys come out of that when its finished.