Racing in Iran…International Presidency Tour

I’m living the life of a professional bike rider and I’m racing in of all places – Iran. This is the second tour that the team I am riding with, Plan B, are contesting in Iran and although I haven’t posted for the previous tour – yet – I am hopeful that this weeks tour will provide a more stable internet service and make daily posts less stressful than my attempt at putting some posts together last week.

We will spend every night, bar one, in the same Bostan Hotel in Tehran. It’s a little bit away from the city which is nice because the smog is thick in the city.

Having completed a five-day race merely a week ago one would expect this tour would seem much easier, but you’d be wrong. The International Presidency Tour is run over five days and covers 708km. This didn’t seem like much when we got the race distances a month ago but the actual profiles only arrived after we finished the tour in Azerbaijan last week and they paint a very different picture to what I had imaged.

Day one provided what was, essentially a 115km climb from about 1,200m in altitude all the way up to nearly 3,500m above sea level. It’s a good thing my weight is the lowest it has been in the last two years as this tour is set up for climbers and unlike Tour of Azerbaijan it offers little hope for a rider like myself who tends to try his luck in breakaways.

You would have needed about 10 minutes lead at the base of the final climb today to even have the faintest chance of staying ahead of the talented Columbians and Iranian climbers. Put it this way, the previous tour started with about 120 riders from a mix of strong international teams but this tour has only a few foreign teams and just over 60 starters. Perhaps the other teams knew something we didn’t when they said “there’s no way we are racing in Presidency Tour”. I’m just hoping this will be another fantastic experience here in Iran. It is humbling race every day just thinking about making the time cut. Maybe if your lucky and smart about it you can hope to get in an early move and spending some time off the front before one of the Iranian teams like Azad University, TPT or LeTua chase you down.

Stage One: Tehran-Fasham 138km was a tough one. The ride details (below) show the difficulty of the stage but it doesn’t show the headwind which we rode into for the first hour or so. Nathan Dahlberg is the guy who helped me get a ticket for this trip and while he is the eldest on the team – by about 20 years – you wouldn’t know it when training or racing with him. I guess this is understandable when you have ridden the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia on numerous occasions.

Every meal presents an opportunity for another wild story from a race and what is really interesting is that most of the stories are after his pro days or at smaller races. Put his name into a website like Cycling Profiles and you can get an idea of the calibre of this man, despite his age.

Nathan was in the day-long break today representing the team which was a relief because that was a hard enough day in the bunch, let alone being in the break for 100km! He didn’t quite have the legs at the end however and was caught by the bunch along with most of the break by the bottom of the final and horrendous climb with about 35km to go. Here are the stats from the climb according to Strava:

11.4km length.
7.1% Average grade.
810m elevation gained.
45:45 minutes of climbing.
166bpm Average heart rate.
14.9km/h Average speed.
The steepest points were a little under 15%.

RIDE data from the stage can be viewed by clicking the image below.

Sam Davis rode to a very impressive 14th place with Alex 35th and Logan 41st. Nathan started the day well but soon turned to disaster when he punctured with 4km of the climb to go, waited at the top for a car that never appeared, and proceeded to ride the 25km descent with a flat. The commissares were lenient to his situation and although he was told to get in the sag wagon, he didn’t. At least he will get to start tomorrow. One rider crashed out of the tour completely and another 10 came down on the fast and twisting descent. There is a tight 15% time limit for most of the stages in this race. The difficulty of the parcours makes just making it to the finish in time a challenge in itself. With the speed the LeTua Columbian riders go uphill you have to ride every finish flat out, with the thought in the back of your head that you have to go through it all again tomorrow.

Here are a few images of the day. With more to come once I get hold of the photographer.

Another taxi convoy. These are the team vehicles, driven by actual taxi drivers. Most of them do not speak English.

Another taxi convoy. These are the team vehicles, driven by actual taxi drivers. Most of them do not speak English.

We passed an amazingly blue lake at about 2,300m. Dam walls suggested that it is man made in order to feed the water supplies to surrounding towns.

We passed an amazingly blue lake at about 2,300m. Dam walls suggested that it is man made in order to feed the water supplies to surrounding towns.

Logan rounds one of the many gravel switchbacks. I think there were about 20.

Logan rounds one of the many gravel switchbacks. I think there were about 20.

The field was scattered over the final climb. Notice the angle of the riders bodies? The road surface didn't make it any easier.

The field was scattered over the final climb. Notice the angle of most of the riders bodies. This climb was tough. The road surface didn't help.

Author: design@ride

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