Riga European Cup

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The phrase ‘It’s Baltic out’ clearly got lost in translations somewhere between the Baltic sea and Ireland. The clock read 25 degrees at 11pm on Friday, 28 degrees at 8am on Saturday and was up to 32 degrees by lunch time. I now know the true meaning of ‘It’s Baltic out’. Luckily for me, Sunday brought cooler temperatures and we raced under clouds at a more reasonable 23 degrees.

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8am start Saturday morning for a pre Breakfast jog with some technique stuff and a few leg opening strides. On the way back to the hotel my thoughts turned to breakfast and I realised i’d left my porridge at home in Dublin!!! Hotel breakfast buffet it’d have to be. Plenty of cereals, oats and fruit on offer so no need for a trip to the supermarket.

After Lunch was the swim course and bike course reccie. Riga is stunning. The view across the river of the Old Town from swim start was amazing. Straight forward swim course, two 90degree right turns. A lap of the course some fast efforts and a few practice starts before getting the bike kit on for a few laps of the bike course. Stayed up near the front  of the group so I could take note of any hole’s, gravel and the corners on the lap. With ten 90degree corners and one 180degree on every of 4 laps there was plenty to make note of. The race briefing Saturday evening was pretty comprehensive and well delivered.

Taking photos of guys taking photos of photos
Taking photos of guys taking photos of photos

Race morning I headed down for breakfast around 10am. I wanted to leave it late enough so I only needed to eat something small later that day before the race. With a 3.30 race start I’m still not 100% on what to eat around lunch time. Early starts are easy, a bowl of porridge for breakfast,job done. A big breakfast, some coffee and banter with the Aussie guys set us up for the day.

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After check in, body making and uniform check it was time to warm up. While out warming up I was glad it had cooled significantly from Saturday. I like racing in the heat but there is a limit. Usual warm up, Jog-drills-jog-strides. A good swim warm up at it was time to line up for the start.

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Second last man onto the pontoon didn’t give me any choice on where to start(last two spots were side by side). Take what your given and go out fast!!! I got a good start and within a few stroke was clear of guys either side of me. I moved onto feet in the line and hoped they were good. Around the 1st buoy our group and the big group to the right came together. I was waiting to the smash but it never came. I got through the swim without any big hits!!

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I exited the water at the rear of the main pack and a solid transition made sure I was on the train. The pace was full gas but I managed to move up a couple of places in the 1st km by taking a few risks in the corners. Unfortunately someone a few guys up let the wheel go in one of the corners and that was it. About 10 of us got caught out and none of us were strong enough to close the gap. A strong Swed caught us and probably could have got us back on but a crash in the front group ment we had to scrub speed around a corner to avoid the dude on the deck and the gap opened again. Our group worked well over the 20km and although we lost time we limited our losses pretty well.

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Another solid transition and out onto the run course. Id worked hard on the bike but my legs felt good. I went out hard as I knew we were close enough to catch guys from the main bunch. 1km in I was into a good rhythm, running well middle of the guys from our group. I could see a few guys coming back and picked of a few starting the second lap. I picked of another few on the second lap but was caught by two from the pack behind. The support out on the course was great. The city really got behind the race. I was happy with my run. Id no issues and glad to be able to let my legs do their thing.

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Id a good race. I’m happy with it. I was aiming to go top 25 and I know its in me. I’ve studied the results and evaluated my performance. I know where I am and where it is, is close. I know what ive got to do in the water, on the bike and out running to get there.

Overall it was a great weekend. I raced well and had good craic. There’s a great atmosphere among the athletes. From the start line to the finish line it’s all business but before and after everyone is friends. There’s great respect between everyone.

Full Race can be found here

I don’t know if it was because Tizzy was on the same day and that after party is legendary on the tri scene but the athletes racing Riga gave it a good go to match Tizzy. Those guys and girls can not only race fast but they can party!! I called it quits late and there was no sign of it finishing. I’d say there was some terrible flights home Monday!

I’m back into training and planning for the rest of the season. It’ll be September before I race again while I chase some more fitness and speed. Where it’ll be…. that’s a work in progress.

Thanks again to my sponsors Westpark fitness, Rotor and Amphibian king for there continued support.

Give us a follow on Twitter and instagram under the handle @neilbolger

Talk soon,

Neil

 

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