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UCI Granfondo World Championships - John Thomas

UCI Granfondo World Championships

Today, new world champions would be crowned in each age group. Two years ago Trento was announced as the host for the 2022 event. Since then I’d been planning and looking forward to this day knowing that it would be on a mountainous course that would suit my cycling attributes. I couldn’t help but think that this could be the day when the stars might align for me. I was a ‘youngster’ in my age category, the course was perfect for me and I was fit and healthy. I had high hopes. I was dreaming of a rainbow jersey.

Haute Route Dolomites, stage 5, Bormio - Laghi Di Cancano with John Thomas of Alpine Cadence

Haute Route Dolomites stage 5 individual time trial

One more ride. A time trial to finish off this fantastic event and, in my case, the last of 12 days of hard racing through the Alps and then the Dolomites. Today’s task was simple. Go up a hill as fast as possible. In the last few days, I’d pushed myself to the limit and still kept performing to a good level. This morning I was confident that I would go well. The course was spectacular. We’d start in the historic centre of Bormio, roll out on the cobbles and then head out of town gently climbing.

Haute Route Dolomites - stage 4

Haute Route Dolomites stage 4

105kms and 3500m of climbing. The thought of climbing Umbrail then Stelvio from it’s classic side would terrify plenty of cyclists. For some though, me included, this stage could turn out to be a relief. A totally different dynamic to previous days. The last few days I’ve been racing, chasing, hurting and concentrating to the max.

Haute Route Dolomites Stage 2 with Alpine Cadence

Haute Route Dolomites stages 2 and 3

Stage 2 was going to be a big ride. 2 major climbs, Falzarego and Valles, 16kms and 18kms long, respectively. No neutralised gaps so today would a real race feeling all the way. A short scamper around Cortina to keep the locals happy and we were off.

Haute Route Dolomites Stages with Alpine Cadence's John Thomas

Haute Route Dolomites

Going back to back Haute Routes is a daunting prospect for many who take up the challenge. With 900km and 22000m of climbing in our legs from last week, a few of us have made our way across the Alps to start Haute Route Dolomites. 5 stages and plenty of spikey profiles to keep us busy. A day of travelling and a day settled in Cortina have effectively meant 2 days of recovery for the legs…bar a short warm up ride yesterday near Cortina just to remind the legs of their day job.

Haute Route Alps stages 6 and 7 - Vars, Bonette and Auron

Haute Route Alps stages 6 and 7

A big day ahead of us. 140kms and 3600m climbing with ascents of Vars, Bonette and Auron to finish. This was a long stage that needed careful management. If things went wrong they could easily go wrong in a big way. We had a sunny day to look forward to but a clear night meant a very chilly rollout from Briançon. 7kms in and the race proper started.

Haute Route Alps stage 5 - Alpe d'Huez, Lautaret, Granon with Alpine Cadence's John Thomas

Haute Route Alps stage 5

A shorter stage today, 86kms and 2700m climbing. 2 climbs, the 35km drag up the Lautaret followed by a summit finish on the beautiful, wild but steep Col du Granon. We enjoyed the luxury of an 8.30am start from Alpe d’Huez, a neutralized convoy all the way to the valley. A tedious and fiddly way to start the day with brakes on pretty much all the way down behind the commissaire’s car. Down to Bourg d’Oisans, onto the flats and the relief of being able to pedal again.

Haute Route Alps stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 - Megeve, Aravis, Colombiere, Romme, Cote and return to Megeve with John Thomas

Haute Route Alps stages 1, 2, 3 and 4

110kms and 3100m of climbing to start us off. A slightly damp but mild morning actually gave us great conditions to start this epic event. As always I got to the start early, got my bike positioned near the front and then wandered off to do my usual nervous routine of toilet visits and faffing with my gear. I was excited but nervous, as I always am. I knew I was in good condition but I also knew that plenty of others would be too.

Haute Route Alpes 2021 - the Alpine Cadence cycling team.

Haute Route Alps 2021

Here we go again! Nearly 900km and 22000m of climbing between where we are now in Megève and our destination in Nice. This time it feels very special. It’s the 10th anniversary edition of this epic event and with all that COVID has brought us, it feels wonderful to be back participating in a big event with lots of people, almost normal! 500 eager riders from all over the world, chomping at the bit to take on this mammoth challenge.

John Thomas receives award at the UCI Gran Fondo World Series (formerly known as the UCI World Cycling Tour)

Earning my stripes in Bosnia at the UCI Gran Fondo World Series

So what on earth brings me to Bosnia and Herzegovina? I hardly knew where it was on the map until a few days ago. Well, COVID has meant my usual work in skiing and cycling has gone for the last 18 months. That, in turn has given me more time to ride than ever before. Time to ride and time to reassess cycling goals. Goals in a sport like cycling are crucial, you need a good carrot to motivate you on those mid winter turbo sessions.