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The Life and Times | Axel's Army
@Tamijo - Yep solid performance Grin
@Croatia - Indeed quite a statement from J as he swings into some form!


"Better luck next time."

I watched you in the Trophy. Nice work out there, you've got some potential but you didn't get there this week. Better luck next time.

I'll be there watching in the Ronde des Vallées next week if you're still around. Get a podium there, maybe that big Mathieu won't beat you too hard. Otherwise I'll see some of your results and if you win something big I'll get in touch.

That girl from when you made a fool out of yourself by crashing over nothing

I'd been riding around beautiful Brittany for the past few days to fill in the gap between races, Richie had gone back to Roanne but Ollie had stayed as we thought we had a shot at doing well in the upcoming Ronde des Vallés. Not part of the junior international cup some riders weren't there including van der Poel but most of the Frenchies and some Dutchmen stuck around for another crack.

Stage one was undulating as you get around here and finished in a sprint after a hill in the town of HĂ©monstoir (where all the stages finished this year). I was hoping for a performance on par with in Morbihan but it'd be tough. Luckily this time around I wanted to get amongst it before yet another short TT on stage 2 and in the top GC battle for that podium spot. Ollie considered protecting me but wanted to test his legs after what he felt was a slightly disappointing showing in the TT last week. He ended up making the break of the day. I was left on my own and decided to hang about the French leaders in Bonnamour and Gesbert and ended up talking to the latter.

"Will you go for the win today?" He asked me in slow English.
"Well I'll try," I smiled, "et je parle Français, si vous préfére." Not perfectly but would help.
"Ah, very good!" He smiled back. "I hope I can stay with you and the other guys on the hill today, I couldn't manage it in Morbihan!"
"Well, you'd be dangerous in the time trial then."
"Hope so! Hey wasn't your brother the guy that reported the doping in Italy?" he asked. My heart almost skipped a beat. 5 months wasn't bad going I guess and it least it was a Frenchie my own age. Progress had been slow on the investigating and gossip was quieting down.
"Yeah, uh, yeah he was."
"Well... good on him. Can't stand cheats." He said bitterly. He then said bye and focused back on the race. That went well, I thought.

The race proceedings finally kicked off over the penultimate hill with 10km when Bonnamour went on the offensive. With a little deja vu, I followed Gesbert's wheel onto the move. A Dutchman I recognised from before the race and a rider who I guessed was French also joined in on the fun. We worked hard together over the crest of the hill and down on the flat road to the finish. With most of the riders the organisers and limited press considered to be strongest (Bonnamour and Gesbert, mostly) we managed to hold our gap of about 20 seconds to the base of the final ascent.

The pace lulled slightly and with 350m to go, I tried a move. I accelerated fairly quickly and only the Dutch rider, Gunst, anticipated it. Gesbert and Bonnamour were not far behind whilst the other Frenchie was coming fast but had fallen behind. I wasn't full gas as I had a way to go but the road was flattening and Gunst was waiting. Meanwhile, the Frenchies were coming closer and so I surged again and then got out of the saddle and opened up my sprint. Gunst continued to leave it until about 75m to go when he tried to come around. I was almost completely done but tried to keep going. I gave every last drop of energy I could but he passed me in the last 30m. I held on for second place and could have sworn when I looked around to confirm so I saw that girl's face stand out amongst the crowd.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:38
Those young boys, notin’ but girly on the mind.
Joke aside a great 2nd, so so very close.
@Tamijo - Haha Pfft Yeah very close, surely Joseph's gotta get one soon...

Vallées II

"I could have sworn I saw that girl's face stand out amongst the crowd."

Day 2 opened with another short TT, much like Morbihan. Bonnamour and Gesbert were both fancied to take the race lead whilst Gunst was probably going to lose over 50 seconds. I didn't know anything about Riviere, the other French rider, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did quite well too. I was aiming to stay ahead of Riviere, overtake Gunst and just try my best to not concede too much to the other two.

As the second last to go today the sky had cleared slightly but the Breton wind was much harder than yesterday, luckily, at least for this TT, it was a tailwind. I went for it from the get-go looking for a psychological advantage over Gunst - if I lost any time really he'd be able to see me up the road. Unfortunately, I couldn't get one over Gesbert who seemed to be having a good one. I went hard to the line and thought I'd done well, and I had. Fifth on the stage, I'd lost time to Gesbert but made some up of the other 3, and was still sitting in second on GC. Ollie had a good day and came 2nd in the stage.

The afternoon race finished on a tougher hill than the first day and promised some crosswinds later in the stage. Ollie kept me safe in the pack today and perhaps in anticipation of the hill and crosswinds, the pace was quiet. With 18km to go, I tapped Ollie on the shoulder and spoke quietly to him.
'Do you think you could force some splits in the crosswinds before the hill?' I asked him
'I can try.' He said firmly.


And that was that - we moved past the dwindling teammates of Gesbert and Ollie turned it up a gear as we moved out of our tree-lined shelter on the road. As the crosswinds hit, the effect was instant. I'd struggled in these conditions back home before but this time I knew what I was doing. In a few kilometres only Ollie, Gesbert, an Argentinian, Gunst, Riviere and I were at the front, with another group almost rejoining after the rider behind Gunst lost focus. I gave Gesbert a look and a quick nod and we started to work together to try to maintain the gap - our GC battle was for when we were clear of Bonnamour and other potential threats. We had a sizeable gap at the foot of the final climb in HĂ©monstoir.

It was only about 1.3km and not overly steep early on but got to it later. ollie had to let us go a few kilometres earlier after a stellar job setting us up. I looked at Gunst initially as he had the most to gain but although he looked comfortable he seemed to be using the same tactic as yesterday. I looked back up the road and lucky I did as Riviere launched himself by the 1km to go sign. It wasn't a great attack and shelled nobody. Gesbert went to the front to set a pace where he thought I couldn't attack. I moved to second wheel with the Argentine behind me. It was like this until 500m to go where the slopes got higher and Riviere went again.

Gunst latched on but I wasn't interested in the stage - a risky move maybe to stay here but I thought I could take the time later - there was a while to go at this gradient and I wasn't struggling too much. The Argentine was still on my wheel. Then, with 400m to go and Gunst and Riviere still not too far ahead, I went.

I attacked hard but not full gas and the Argentine tried to follow but couldn't. gesbert hunkered down and tried to pace himself to within 10 seconds of me. I caught Gunst who was hurting slightly and accelerated again around him. 200m to go and I didn't dare look back. Riviere was dancing up the road and I hadn't shaken Gunst yet. My legs were burning but I had - to - keep - going. I swung round the final bend and the gradient eased enough that I could sprint for the line. up ahead, Riviere stuck a fist in the air, a deserving stage winner. I could hear the fans cheering on their local boy Gesbert. Gunst came around me but it only helped my time - about 8 seconds behind Riviere after our fast finish. I grabbed the nearest wall and somehow unclipped before slumping over. I drank a bit of water but then just sat down against the wall, breathing heavily.


Eventually I was ushered up by a balding French man. he looked me up and down and said:
'Sorry kid, you didn't make it - good effort though. We still need you on the podium now.' I bit my lip and nodded solemnly. Come on... Apparently, the final time I made up was 8 seconds - 2 seconds too short. I was getting a bit sick of being second by now, but at least there was one perk, as I'd find out later.

'OI - Vaillenos!' I heard someone shout on the way back with Ollie to the motel where we'd spend our last night in Brittany. I looked around and there she was - the "girl from when I made a fool out of myself by crashing over nothing" - I'd recognise that face anywhere.
'Oh - er - Hi.' I said as she ran over.
'I guess I owe you a night out. Get out of that lycra though.'
'Well I think it does him a lot of favours!' piped up Ollie from behind me.
'Thanks Ollie,' I called out, then turned back to the girl, 'I'll meet you here then?'
'One hour, don't be late.' she smiled, and gave me a wink, 'cause I'm not coming down to Roanne for you even if you won the World Championships.'
Edited by jandal7 on 17-04-2020 00:56
@ALL - Yes I know everyone in this story graduated a year young but I was screwing it up for so long I have to roll with it Pfft The ages and such aren't great throughout really in terms of when they started doing WCs is a little unrealistic for Joseph at least but I promise from now on it's sorted other than that anomaly Pfft


"Well this was fun."

'Well this was actually quite fun - maybe it's nicer to court a boy who doesn't speak perfect French...' she said.
'Yeah thanks a lot, Lana, I enjoyed it. So when will I see you next?'
'That's what I was wondering Joseph - we'll figure it out and even then - it was nice meeting you. Here's my number anyway.' she scribbled it down for me and kissed me on the cheek. And that was the last I saw of Lana Lousteau for quite a while, but it certainly wouldn't be the last.

'I mean Sebastian this has been such a good experience over here but everything's up in the air with my future for next year but I assure you if I don't jump to the CT I'll be back here for certain. CR4C has been amazing to be a part of and I'd love to come back if I'm not jumping up.' I shook the hand of my moustachioed manager Sebastian and he smiled at me.
'Boy I'd support whatever decision you make here - after your results here this year and your progress I'd be delighted to have you back but if you move on to bigger and better things I'll always support you lad - and you can always give me a ring if you're in the RhĂ´ne!'

'Well well done Jay very impressive you actually spoke to a European girl - I was starting to doubt you for a while there.' Hayden laughed.
'Yeah well I still doubt Lucia was real.' I shot back.
'What no of course she - anyway I got big news for you bro - you're wanted.'
'For what?'
'You're serious?' I exclaimed a little too loudly for Ollie's liking across the room.
'Yeah and Richie - they know you're only 17 but they want you there after your performances this season. Proud of you man.'
'Awesome.' I breathed.
'Yeah see you then, your flights and stuff are sorted. Also, have you sent something for Mum's birthday yet?'
'Well hurry up - you know the post times from Europe are as consistent as the Blackcaps. See you in a couple of weeks'
Edited by jandal7 on 13-01-2020 01:49

"Barely any 1995 births were attending."

Appearing on a stage like this was a dream for me. Doing it at 17? You're kidding. It seemed Richie and I were two of the absolute babyfaces here, in fact, Hayden was amongst the youngest too. Most of our squad was really, with qualification based on quite a bit of luck. The higher-ups at Cycling NZ were surprised we were here at all but they were very excited. The squad consisted of Hayden, Mac, Dion Smith, Richie and I. it seemed Richie and I really were last-minute changes after Paddy Bevin broke his arm and Hamish Schreurs, preferred on his age as they wanted more 94s than 95s, passed on the opportunity. But I wouldn't let that worry me - I was concerned with giving a good account of myself and helping Dion get some decent stage placings.


The first day was a very short prologue and we just wanted to get it out of the way really. Not any of our specialities, Hayden was the best placed in a decent 27th, 14 seconds behind the winner Gougeard. Mac wasn't far behind and I was pleased with being inside the top 60.


Stage 1 would be a lot harder, flat but 146km and with some of the best young riders around. I did some work collecting bottles and such but I'd drop off with still a while to go and finish in the bottom 15. Hayden was 13th and Dion was 6th after a few sprinters were tired after the final hill.

Stage 2 was longer but slower and I finished next to Mac and Richie in the peloton, around 60 places down. Hayden again gave Dion a good placing and the latter broke the top 5, coming 4th, again behind Ewan the winner. Hayden was 11th and after two stages we were really positive about how we were going so far. Stage 3 would be another flat stage before we hit the mountains. After three days in the race, I was buzzing and acclimatising to the higher level of racing. It was super hard and I was one of the weaker riders there but I was loving it.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:37
Future II

"I was one of the weaker riders there but I was loving it."

I didn't see much of the race until I was back at the hotel on stage 3 - a recurring theme this edition. Hayden did well though - finishing 7th in the pack sprint to finish 9th, with Dion in 6th. Michael Valgren won, 3 seconds ahead of the peloton, lead again by Ewan.


Stage 4 was a big day for me - the challenge would be to survive. None of us had any real obligation to do anything bar survive and Mac responded to that by going for the breakaway. Apparently, an Italian rider from Colnago had some very choice words indeed for him, but we wouldn't expect much more.

I surprised myself and finished in the 70s (the placing, though it did feel like I was 40 years slower than Fernandez) in the grupetto, between Stage 2's winner Ewan and yesterday's victor Valgren. Richie finished a couple of minutes ahead and Dion and Hayden a bit further. Mac was somewhere in there too but I forget.


Hayden went into the morning breakaway on stage 5 and almost had the luck to be amongst it for the win but was caught on the final climb, finishing in the engorged peloton. Mac and Dion were slightly further back whilst Richie and I finished ahead of the grupetto but a few minutes off the peloton.


Stage 6 was very tough but Hayden did well enough to finish in the top 25 with Dion and Mac not far behind. Richie also did well but I was back in the grupetto again.


Stage 7 was another proper summit finish and a hard end to the race. Mac was ballsy enough to go for another breakaway but suffered hard and finished near the back end of the race. Hayden did well again a few minutes down whilst Dion was further down and me and Richie were content to finish in the grupetto.

This race was a steep learning curve for me about how bloody tough this career was going to be but was actually a lot of fun and I learnt that I'm not a bad climber just Hayden, Richie and Rose were very good and were kicking my ass more than would be normal in the peloton. I had no troubles finishing in the grupetto and as a 1995 birth the only way is up... right?

In the long run, the impact of this tour would be much bigger for Hayden than it was for the rest of our team - he proved himself a much better climber at only 19 than anybody could have predicted and his GC finish in the 20s was no mean feat given his only having one year of U23 racing under his belt.

For me now I'd turn my attention to the last few races before worlds in Firenze.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:36
If form builds up Firenze could be one hell of a firework for the Kiwis!
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@Croatia - Here's hoping! The boys all looked very good in Avenir and who knows what September will bring. Starting... here Pfft


"Cycling NZ kept the faith and it was time to get to know Italy."

A week after Avenir concluded we made the 8 hour van trip from Roanne to La Spezia in italy for a junior stage race that Cycling NZ had told us would be a great warm-up for worlds (along with two other stage races, but that's for later). Anyway, it would be..


... tough. Yep, this was a hilly tour with two summit finishes. Richie wanted to get into it and after Avenir, I was curious as to how I'd fare. Stage 1 was a summit finish, but also had some early climbs to contend with.

Early in the day, I was told to pass on a would-be threatening message to my older brother by the younger brother of one of his ex-Colnago teammates. Nice guy.

Over the penultimate climb, I was still in the peloton, whereas Ollie had dropped off earlier. Richie was on my wheel and about 70 riders were still there. What the final climb made up for by being 4km long it made up for by being over 7% for most of the way. No mountain such as in Avenir but no speed bump, either. Richie in his usual fashion went at his own pace for most of the climb (15-year-old me would make some cruel joke about how his Remuera train of doom wasn't here for him now but this wasn't the time) and eventually came a very surprising 6th, only 9 seconds down on the winner Tao Geoghegan Hart. I finished in 9th, 14 seconds down in what wasn't the decisive stage I thought it could be.


Stage 2 was destined to be a bunch sprint and sprint it was, dominantly taken out by a Danish rider. I'd decided I fancied a crack in a weaker field and got Ollie to pilot me to position. I traded some elbows in the sprint and managed to draft my way to a pleasing 8th place.

The next two days would both be in the hills, with one hill top finish and one ending on a descent.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:35
Nice guy.

Made me smile Grin

That final climb on the first profile, without looking at altitude numbers, looked damn frightening Grin good job by the Kiwis once more!

the hilly stages could turn out to be the decicive moment, let's hope for some active decision-seeking by the guys - and a show to make that Colnago guy pay for his words...
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"Yes I know everyone in this story graduated a year young but I was screwing it up for so long I have to roll with it"

-- I know that feeling, had some of those "misses" in my story too, does not matter much does it.
The boys a doing good ATM Smile
@Croatia - Yeah I thought it was crazy Motirolo levels but just bad profile design :P And yes, let's hope the guys can keep their heads straight and their legs strong!

@Tamijo - Yep now I've got my head around it, it's all fine :P Yeah there's some stealthily good form building up for all three of the Kiwis on the team right now :)

Lunigiana II

"The hilly stages could turn out to be the decisive moment."

Wow, you can climb too? Maybe all you really need is van der Poel to not show up. Or maybe I should go out with your little friend Richie - he seems better than you.
Just kidding.

So I saw on twitter you're heading up to Belgium for a junior race in a week or so? Do you want to take a detour and go out again ;)


Stage 3 finished on a hill a bit longer but slightly less steep than the opening day - potentially less my stuff but right up Richie's alley - the longer and the more around 4-7% the better for him. And In seeing that, we agreed that I'd put it on the line for his shot at the stage win.

The first gaps formed without my doing at the bottom of the climb as the mathematically inclined (including this one Italian whizz taking it at uni Ollie was talking to) riders were dropping partly of their own accord to join the grupetto, and some just plain were in a world of trouble. I stayed a few wheels down, next to race leader Geoghegan Hart with Richie nestled in behind me. Soon we were in a group of 12 and I was beginning to struggle. But with that in mind, I went to the front for one last effort to shell riders from the favourites group. It wasn't my inclination to join Richie's hill train, a tactic that had killed me before, but it's a role I'll have to get used to sometimes in my career.

First, one rider went. Then two more. Then another. Then I did, slowing right down with nothing left to give. 2km to go. I tried to dig it in to keep my top 10 spots\ and pray that Richie could keep up. It wasn't the dramatic standstill swing-off as I hadn't mastered going that deep yet. As I swung off, the Aussie, Power, attacked. Geoghegan Hart and Richie were the only ones to attempt to follow. From then on I didn't see, but Richie would end up third, 5 seconds behind the other two, with Power taking the stage and Geoghegan Hart all but confirming his GC win. Richie moved to second overall after being one of the few consistent stage 1 and 3 performers, whilst I dropped to 10th, 1:41 down.


The final day, stage 4 would decide things for the GC and with the summit of possibly the race's toughest climb it could be interesting.

Up the climb, we were whittled down to the GC men and until there was a group of 15, containing generally the top 15. Richie wasn't feeling the greatest and told me to go for it if I wanted. With that in mind, I was all too happy to follow the attack of Mads Pedersen over the top as neither of us posed a massive threat to Geoghegan Hart and I wanted to take a gamble on stealthily gaining some time, at least leapfrogging Abrahmsen who was on the same time as me.

In the end, we did more than that - we stayed away. We had about 10 seconds on Geoghegan Hart, Power, Davies and Ghebreindrias going into the final few hundred metres. Round the final bend with 250m to go I decided to go long, banking on the fatigue to seep through on Pedersen's part.

I kept going and going at 95%, not wanting to burn out. I didn't dare look bad but with 75m to go I was still ahead. My legs were burning and were almost a crisp at this point. But I dug as deep as I could to try keep it going. The win was so, so close...

Pedersen was coming up beside me now, 30m to go, 20m to go we were neck and neck, I pedalled and pedalled and got as low as possible, looking for any advantage I could possibly get, and with a few metres to go tried to time the all-important bike-throw to perfection...

and I did! Looking across at his wheel at the last second I had a clear edge. I stuck my first in the air and couldn't contain my ear-to-ear grin. Victory.

I checked the provisional GC as more and more riders came in. i needed 39 seconds on the trio of Power, Fabro and Velasco. They were in the same group and they were sall sprinting for the line - but they couldn't make it. I punched the air again, my 6th place overall confirmed. Unfortunately, Richie slipped to third, and although this may sound selfish, but at that moment I wasn't too upset - I was on top of the world with my performance. Hell yes!
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:34
I've reading the entire story in the last couple of days, and what a story! Congratulations jandal for this fantastic story. I can't wait to keep reading things about the Vaillenos
Manager of [MG] Repsol - Netflix

Every time I read "Richie" my brain immediately thinks "Porte". Can I call him Porte junior? Smile

Congrats on the stage win! Your writing had me on the edge of my seat Smile
@Aquarius - Thanks a lot! Well welcome aboard then Pfft

@Ollie23 - An unfortunate similarity Pfft Cheers!
24/2/21 - kandesbunzler said “I don't drink famous people."
22/07/21 - quadsas said "I admire you [jandal] so much as a manager, squad builder and a person"

[ICL] Santos-Euskadi | The Life And Times | [Sad] i.imgur.com/c85NSl6.png Xero Racing

4x i.imgur.com/wM6Wok5.png x4

"I am a cyclist, I am the best cyclist. I am there, I am barely trying." - Tadej PogaÄŤar

"The hilly stages could turn out to be the decisive moment."

That was great! Guess you deserved a special night out after your big stage win ;)

Mind you, you better kick some ass again at worlds. My friends are impressed but you have to keep it up :P

Stage 1 of the Keizer des Juniores was a hilly affair, but not overly decisive. A race known to have a propensity for all hell breaking loose, I wasn't sure what to expect in a mostly Belgian and Dutch field. Though in saying that, the likes of Geoghegan Hart and a few other Anglo riders had made the trip up from Lunigiana as well.

The race was exciting for a while halfway through when some splits happened in the pissing rain, roughly a third of the race were still together at the front including me and Richie. Richie wasn't a huge fan of the rain though and so we decided he'd try and position me for the final few laps. Everyone was really looking at van Der Poel as the guy to try to make the race.

On the penultimate lap, a very well-fancied rider, van Hooydonck, tried to go clear. It was a pretty devastating attack but didn't shell as many as he would have liked. Once the dust settled we were about 10-strong. I hadn't done any work but I was really just trying to hold on - these conditions were made for the Belgians and Dutchmen and I hadn't experienced the European cold and wet like this yet. In the end I managed to hang tight to finish on the same time as the winner Tietema in a group of 7 containing van Hooydonck and VDP.

The second stage was an individual time trial - 6km of virtually pan flat roads. I managed to stay safe but still go fast-ish to only lose 15 seconds to my overall rivals. however, this put me down to 6th overall from yesterday's 4th.


The third stage was later in the day and terribly windy and wet and fairly early on an large echelon got away containing van Hooydonck. I crashed near the start but didn't sustain any real damage and ended up actually a split ahead of many of my rivals. However over 80km those gaps increased a lot and so that didn't really matter. Van Hooydonck came across in second for an easy overall win, I was a minute and a half back on the front group which meant despite having almost the same gap to VDP et al I dropped to 17th on GC.

Not a bad race for me and a steep learning curve in properly European bad weather, which I handled reasonably well but not well enough unfortunately for this particular race. Now it was quickly back to Italy for one more warm-up race for Worlds.
Edited by jandal7 on 31-08-2017 05:34
I would say 17th is pretty impressive after a crash and in weather you're not familiar with yet. Great job!
Great stage win (Lunigiana)
Solid run on Keizer des Juniors, a shame about the echelons costing Joseph that top 5-10 place.

When (if) Joseph becomes a professional, will you use PCM or you will continue doing race reports like now?
Manager of [MG] Repsol - Netflix

@Ollie - Yeah a very impressive performance by Joseph in unfamiliar territory!

@Tamijo - Indeed a well taken opportunity!

@Aquarius - Yep a shame about the conditions but long-run probably good to have some more learning about real crosswinds Pfft Basically some of the inspiration comes from PCM saves past but this will, for the most part, be non-PCM the whole time. Not ruling it out on occasion of course Wink

24/2/21 - kandesbunzler said “I don't drink famous people."
22/07/21 - quadsas said "I admire you [jandal] so much as a manager, squad builder and a person"

[ICL] Santos-Euskadi | The Life And Times | [Sad] i.imgur.com/c85NSl6.png Xero Racing

4x i.imgur.com/wM6Wok5.png x4

"I am a cyclist, I am the best cyclist. I am there, I am barely trying." - Tadej PogaÄŤar
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