At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane

At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane by Cavendish Mark

Book: At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane by Cavendish Mark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cavendish Mark
started to lose patience. Now, admittedly, I’d taken my i -dotting and t -crossing to a new level of fastidiousness by sketching the corners on pieces of paper before we set out, but as I kept telling my teammates, “If we get 80 percent of the technical aspects of this time trial right, we won’t win. If we get 90 percent right, we might win but we might not, and if we get 100 percent right, we’ll definitely win.” Having labored this point, it then annoyed mewhen we began our morning reconnoiter and I could hear Kanstantsin Sivtsov and Lars Bak yammering at the back of the line as we approached one key bend.
    “Right,” I said, slamming on my brakes. “You’re not paying attention, so we’ll go back and do it again.”
    This was when Bernie kicked off.
    “No, I’m not doing it again. No way. You need to chill out.”
    At this point, insults flew back and forth across the road, with neither of us giving an inch. So Bernie went back to the hotel.
    When I asked, no one else wanted—or dared—to join him, and we finished the practice lap with eight men.
    An hour or so later, I got back to the hotel and the room that I was sharing with Bernie. I pushed open the door, walked in, and there he was.
    “You’re a dickhead,” were his first words.
    “No, you’re a dickhead,” was my reply.
    And that was it; within 30 seconds, we were best mates again. Not only that, but when we got onto the course for one very last practice lap that night, it was poetry in motion. We’d intended to take it easy—and it felt like a breeze because we were technically perfect—but our time on that practice lap would almost have put us on the podium in the race proper. When we finally did roll off the start-ramp, only this time holding nothing back, we replicated the same fluid turns and clockwork rotation and went on to win by a relatively comfortable margin of 10 seconds. The team had decided that I would cross the line first and so take the red leader’s jersey in the event of victory. It was one of the best wins of my career to date. I was ecstatic, but I also felt slightly guilty that the rider in red atthe end of it wasn’t Matt Goss. Gossy was so strong that day that he could have ridden away from us.
    The three weeks in Spain started as they were set to continue. I loved the Vuelta. The loneliness, the lack of any real anchor in my life, the restlessness that had gnawed at me all year, they were still there under the surface, but racing a Grand Tour was the best way to keep my mind occupied, purely by virtue of the fact that I was on my bike and among friends. I was single at the time, but in Bernie I had a fairly convincing substitute spouse, minus the romance; we slept in the same room, spent more time with each other than with anyone else, and bickered constantly, but just like our row over the time trial, the arguments would be explosive and quickly resolved.
    When Bernie had to quit the race on the fourth day because of a virus, for a day or two I felt completely bereft. Without Bernie, without Renshaw (who’d had a long season and been left out of the Aussie worlds squad because they were worried that he’d be tempted to work for me!), without Tony Martin, I was working with a brand-new, you could say makeshift, sprint train, but one that could still deliver me in style. Gossy was flying, and he was doing a fantastic job, but he was different from Mark; his style was jerkier, more erratic, and it took more balls to follow him. In the first week there were four bunch sprints, and I didn’t win a single one, mainly because I’d got it into my head that it would take a long sprint to win on the worlds course in Melbourne and that I needed to simulate that here. I was kicking with 350 meters to go and dying before the line. Eventually, though, we were bound to win one, and in a technical finish on stage 12 into Lleida, Gossy dragged both of us so far clear going into the last corner that for a second I hesitated,

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