Tyler Wins Vattenfall Classic 2009

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 10:38 am

The peloton climbs the Waseberg, which it would visit several times during the race.

The peloton climbs the Waseberg, which it would visit several times during the race.

The peloton climbs the Waseberg, which it would visit several times during the race.

Photo credit ©AFP

 

Garmin “Sky High” Tyler Farrer wins Vattenfall Classic. Steven, along with his teammates helped lead Tyler to the biggest win of his career. See Steven in the photo above racing on the outside pounding over Waseberg.

Steven’s End of the 2009 Road Race Season Schedule

Filed under: Race Schedule — admin @ 12:04 am

August 2, 2009, Tour of Poland, Pro Tour
August 16, 2009, Vattenfall Classic, Hamburg, Germany, Pro Tour
August 18-19, Eneco Tour, Belgium, The Netherlands, Pro Tour
August 29-30, USA Nationals

September 13-20, Tour of Missouri

Steven concluded his racing season for 2009 with the Tour of Missouri. He was very happy that he could end the season helping “DZ” win the Yellow Jersey.

Steven’s season ended disappointingly early because of a digestive problem he had been battling all season (refer to On The Road Again – “Racing Wounded”). 

Steven is now working closely with his coach and nutritionist to help heal his digestive track.  He is looking forward to training on the bike again and to a great 2010 Pro Tour Season for his  Garmin Slipstream Teammates and himself.

Steven wrote, “Thanks to all my fans and the fans of the sport of professional cycling. Your support is what keeps us cyclists going when we are suffering out there on the bike – over a mountain,  in the last km’s of a individual time trial,  chasing down attacks, or spending the entire day in a break fighting to the end not to get caught. I was in plenty of those this season!  I also want to thank my Race for Kids Fan Club members for joining my fan club and supporting children in need throughout the world through your generous donations! See you all in 2010, for now ciao!!!”

Tour de Pologne Stage 7 – Missing in Action

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 11:19 pm

August 8, 2009
Written by Scott Cozza

Rabka-Zdroj to Krakow – 136.5 km

It all began in a little mountain top village just outside Zakopane. Zakopane is where stage 6 finished. I was told by a local that the mountain top village where Steven and his team were staying was the highest village in Poland. Their hotel was five-star rated, and served both the locals and tourists during the ski season. In this season, the empty chair-lifts moved only by the streams of wind blowing gently across the mountain.

The Garmin, Cofidis, and Francase Des Jeux teams settled in to recuperate after a torturous stage 6. The rest of the participating teams were grouped in separate hotels. The Garmin boys had a carbohydrate dinner with liquids to replenish their depleted bodies, then off to bed they went.

Then it happened! I was sound asleep dreaming of being back home fishing. I had hooked a big one on a parachute adams fly when without warning my blackberry pinged. It was Steven. His ping message said, “Come to my room, quick! I’m sick.” I popped out of bed like a broken mattress spring, grabbed my clothing and my Garmin hat and out the door I ran.

It was 1 o’clock in the morning, a time anyone in his sane mind would die for a bed and blanket to sleep. But sleep was robbed from Steven and I this night. As I opened his door, I could hear Steven moaning in his bathroom. He was very ill. He was overcome by uncontrolled diarrhea and vomiting. This went on until about 7 a.m. His face turned a shade of white as the bug attacked his body throughout the night. It cramped his insides causing tremendous pain and he became so weak that it was difficult for him to get up without assistance. The bastard bug finally seemed to leave his weakened body by morning. Steven’s body was weakened by a relentless stage 6 and an illness that was unforgiving.

Finally, Steven was able to replenish his body with needed fluids and recovered. He later learned two of his teammates, Daniel Martin and Christian Meier, were also hit like a hammer with a form of the same illness that overcame Steven. Additionally, one by one other teams who had stayed at other hotels that night reported sickness. So, food poisoning was ruled out as the culprit. Steven’s director, Johnny Weltz, suggested the inflicted cyclists may have gotten ill during stage 6 when the rain pounded the surface roads like bombs, loosening the filth on the streets. The cyclists who became ill likely got their illness from water spraying in their faces and mouths from the bicycle tires, an occupational hazard for a road cyclist!

Stage 7 began with several depleted teams. Garmin was down 3 riders. It all came down to another field sprint. Will Frischkorn survived a hard fall going around one of the last turns to the finish, but luckily, Christopher Sutton was able to work his way to the front for a second place Garmin finish!

Road Racing is a team sport. As a team, each cyclist has a role to play… a job to complete. They sometimes find themselves facing many challenges. The Tour de Pologne, a Pro Tour race, threw just about every challenge a professional cyclist could ever have imagined at them. This made this Tour unpredictible and exciting. For that, Bravo Tour de Pologne! – Until next year when we meet again!

Stage 6: A Race to the Clouds Needs a Bit of Luck

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 1:36 pm

August 7, 2009
Written by Scott Cozza

Before the stage begins…
Today will be the toughest stage. We are up in the clouds atop the mountain town called Makeciche. It’s actually a ski resort in the winter.

Stage 6 will be an ultimate test for Steven. I just hope it hasn’t come too soon as he works himself back into top racing condition. If anything, it will give Steven a good read on himself and what he needs to do in his training. The cyclists have to race into the clouds like birds not once or twice or even three times – they have to ascend this mountain 5 times! To me, this task seems impossible. The climbers, or “mountain goats” as steven calls them, will look up at this Mt upon their approach and see it as just another challenge. Others may have tossed and turned in their sleep as they anticipate their turn at riding the mountain.

Steven, the cyclist from across the pond from Petaluma, I know welcomes the challenge. It is races like this that Steven dreams about. After his first Paris Roubaix this year, he was asked, “Didn’t the cobbles tear you up (or something like that)?” Steven replied ‘I loved them. I wish the entire race were on cobbles. I look forward to racing Roubaix again. It is one of my favorite races.”

So today as Steven approaches the mountain, he will look up knowing that while he is suffering, climbing this mountain is an experience not many will have in this life. The challenge will bring out the best in him. He knows winning doesn’t give meaning and purpose to life, the experience does.

This is a father’s view as he has witnessed his son in this life…

On to the Race

In the first turn up the mountain, Steven found himself with the peloton chasing the break away group about 2 minutes ahead. He looked fresh. He even had a smile on his face and waved to his mother and sister as he pedaled by them.

On the second lap, Steven wasn’t to be found in the peloton. We later discovered that Steven did his job by giving up his wheel to Daniel Martin, who was one of 2 GC racers for Garmin for today’s stage. Steven saw Martin had broken a wheel over a large hole in the road. He hopped off his bike and give Martin his wheel then ran along side him pushing him up the mountain to give him some momentum. Then Steven raced back to his bike was given a new wheel from the Garmin support car and off he went. He chased after Martin to catch him so he could attempt to pull Martin back to the peloton – and he did just that! As he approached the peloton, he rode next to Martin and, with his hand, gave Dan one more big push.

And that was that. Streven had nothing left and dropped back. His goal now was to just finsh the race by making the time cut, which he did.

[Steven races as a domestique for the Garmin / Slipstream Team. The domestique is the team member who sacrifices himself to help his mates and the team win. Domestiques have opportunities to win, but these are far and few. If they are good, they can win in an individual time trial, or if they are lucky, they can win by attacking the peloton and then staying away. Domestiques who are strong have opportunites to win at one day classic races such as the Paris Roubaix, which is one of Steven's favorite races to compete in.]

The challenge of the mountain for Steven today turned into another challenge to help his teammate Martin catch back onto the peloton. With 10 km to go. Martin found himself in the front of the peloton heading for the finish when, unfortunately, he lost a bit of Irish luck as he flatted again! Road racing, while full of strategy, also calls for a fair amount of luck to win.

More challenges to come for Steven and his Garmin mates!

Stages 4 Renewed Friendships and 5 Back To The Battle

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 12:22 pm

August 6, 2009
Written by Scott Cozza

Thunder and lighting with intermitent down pours began Tuesday evening after stage 3 and the beginning of stage 4 on Wednesday. Although, thankfully, stage 4 saw little rain. The downpours came in stage 5 where the riders raced from the town of Strzyzow to the finish in a beautiful village in the mountains called Krynica-Zdroj. It rained so hard that by the time I was able to open my umbrella, it was too late. I got completely drenched!

Stage 4 was the longest of the stages at 239.7 km. It ended in another sprint finish in the city of Rzeszow. It was a flat, long and tiring stage. The cyclists battled boredom by conversing with one another. Old friends got caught up on one anothers lives! Steven did his job. He went to the front and lead the Garmin train attempting to help lead out his teammate, Chris Sutton. After Steven gave himself up for his teammate, he had nothing left and fell to the back of the peloton. The sprinters who fought their way to the front exploded towards the finish line in a massve blur of metal and bodies all seeking a place on the podium.

Stage 5 began with a thunder storm. It rained lions and elephants. Those boys were out there not only battling one another for position, but also battling mother nature. She threw one heavy downpour of rain after another. Just when the racers thought she was going to let up, she gave them another whipping. The 5 breakaway cyclists were caught one by one. Not working together led to their demise, so they never had much time on the peloton and were all eventually gobbled up by the monster.

As the racers entered into the finishing circut in the village of Krynica-Zdroj, I could see their muddied, worn-out looking faces. It was as if they had gone to battle and now were coming home searching for a place to rest. Those who did their jobs let up on their bicycles as the sprinters raced by them to the finish. Everyone in the peloton deserved to be on the podium this day. But that wasn’t to be, for only 3 got the kisses and flowers and applause by the crowd of fans.

And Mother Nature gave them all one more whipping.

‘Big Bird’ Lives In Poland: Stage 3

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 11:01 am

Written by Scott Cozza
August 4, 2009

Jeanette, Anne and I followed the Garmin bus into Lubin to catch the finish of the 225.1 km stage 3 in the Tour of Poland. It is incredible to drive this very long and tiring distance, only to quickly ponder how any human being would have the strength and endurance to race the distance on a bicycle. This feat is beyond belief.

As we drove for what seemed like days on a road that would never end, we went through beautiful forests and green to golden farmlands. In particular, what caught our eye were the storks and their gigantic cartoon-like nests. They sat on these telephone pole-like posts that had platforms on top to support each nest. Our German friends Rolf and Margita from California told us to look for the famous stork nests in our travels. The nests were everything they said they’d be. They had to be 3 to 4 feet in diameter and at least 2 feet in depth! Pretty amazing!

Back to the race: Today’s race lacked the excitement of stages 1 and 2. The break of 3 didn’t seem to be racing as hard as yesterday’s break. They were caught with 20 – 30 km left in the race.

The finish was very fast and furious. A hundred or so cyclists powering by like a mob of frantic shoppers trying to get the after Thanksgiving sales at Walmart. Although I will say, these cyclists, with all their speed and determination to set up their team’s sprinter, were as graceful as a flock of birds in V formation going in for a landing. It is amazing how these professional cyclists don’t have more crashes during sprint finishes.

We saw Steven race by like a beam of light – a blur of color with the peloton. Yes, Steven survived stage 3 after his strong break away effort in stage 2.

Now we’re off to find our hotel in Naleczow, the start of tomorrow’s stage 4. For this stage, we go from Naleczow to Rzeszow – the longest of the stages at 239.7 km.

The Second Best Seat In The House

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 12:58 pm

August 3, 2009
Written by Scott Cozza

Johnny Weltz, European Director Team Garmin / Slipstream invited Jeanette or myself to ride in the follow car for stage 2. I asked Jeanette if she wanted to and she suddenly turned white, saying, “never again.” She described her previous experience as a roller coaster ride, “very scary.” So I accepted Johnny’s offer.

I began my adventure riding with Alisa, soigneur to the feed zone. On the way, Johnny radioed, “Cozza’s in the break – have Scott ride with Enrique!” Enrique is a soigneur who also does the massages for the team. Steven really admires Enrique because he is such a great person and he brings many years of experience with him as a soigneur for many Grand Tours and Classics. So I was to go in the support car for Steven! As Steven and the other 3 cyclists came through the feed zone, I took a photo, grabbed a water bottle Steven had thrown and hopped in the car with Enruque – and off we went!

I had the second best seat in the house. How exciting could it be for a dad to be in a support follow car watching his son in a Pro Tour race in the break! Yahoo Go Cozza! Steven came back several times for water. We also drove up to Steven several times to give him water and food. I could see Steven’s determination to succeed in staying away from the peloton and winning the race. His turns at the front of the break were long and hard. He was pulling that break like he was being chased by a stampede of buffalo.

As we approached the circuit for the finish, I really thought that these guys might do it, but it wasn’t to be. The peloton (stampede of buffalo) overcame the four leaders and the race ended in a sprint. What a day for those brave cyclists to take on the peloton, knowing the odds were against them. But to have the courage to face the odds is what I’ll remember the most.

Throughout his life, Steven has been challenged with many other obstacles. He has faced them all with bravery and courage. The act of going against the odds (and now in his life to challenge the peloton) is something that Steven was made to do. He races as he lives his life. As he said recently in an interview, “You’ve only lost if you quit. So don’t quit.”

Best Seat in the House

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 8:37 pm

August 3, 2009
Written by Steven Cozza

I had the best seat in the house today at stage 2 of the Tour de Poland. I was able to make it into the day’s break with 3 other riders for the 220 kilometer stage. It was such a painful day for me, but I was so inspired by all the Polish fans cheering me on. I couldn’t help but think of the older men and women standing on the sides of the roads cheering and smiling after so much pain in their country’s history.

It filled me with so many emotions and made my pain and suffering on the bike nothing compared to what they have all been through in war-torn days of the past. It made me feel so good to know that as I passed, little kids and old timers alike were cheering and smiling.

As we neared the finish with 20k to go, we had just under 3 minutes on the peloton.
I really thought we were going to make it – and the four of us gave it our all. There were 3 finishing circuits of about 6 kilometers long, including a 1 kilometer cobblestone section. Boy did that hurt, but we kept truckin on.

With two laps to go, we had a 1:20 lead and I still believed it was possible. With one lap to go we had 30 seconds and began to get swallowed up by the giant peloton storming up behind us. We were caught with about 2 kilometers to go. It was a shame, but I was proud of my effort and enjoyed my new view of the polish countryside.

Oh yeah, and my dad was able to come along the course today in the follow car! He was able to watch me all day in the break. That was another great motivation for me and I was so happy to give him that experience.

Thanks for reading.

Steven Cozza.

Stage 1 Garmin Fans In The Stands

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 2:01 am

Sunday August 2, 2009
Written by Scott Cozza

Jeanette, Anne and I were fortunate to get seats in the stands right in front of the announcer stage and the jumbo screen. We watched the entire race on the big screen.

The race was very exciting especially near the last few laps as the 2 break-away cyclists got caught and the teams began to set up their sprinters for the winning sprint.

The amazing thing about the race were the spectators.They were dancing, clapping and singing throughout the race. The music was a mix of American hard rock and Polish rock songs. Both adults and children were participating in the celebration. I just loved being a part of this special event. Jeanette, Anne and I became part of a community celebration. The announcer even gave out T-shirts and other prizes for the best dancers voted for by the fans! It was so cool to see, I guess 9 year old little girl on her father’s shoulders dancing. And the big smile on her face when all the fans cheered for her and she won a prize. The Polish fans were amazing! I found myself at stage 1 enjoying both the race and the fans.

Road Racing is such a cool sport. As the two break-away leaders from different teams got caught, they shook hands as if to say “we gave it our best shot, good work”. Now that’s sportsmanship! And as in America the fans cheered as loud for the first place finisher as they did for the last place finisher.

It was great seeing Steven back in the peloton. As he raced by I could see by the expression on his face his joy of being back in the peloton again.

Scott Cozza

Stage 1 Report From Inside The Peloton

Filed under: On the Road Again — admin @ 1:27 am

Sunday August 2, 2009
Written by Steven Cozza

It felt great to be out racing in the peloton again today. I have to say I can’t remember it being as crazy and sketchy out there as it was today.

Today’s stage one of the Tour of Poland was a 12 kilometer circuit that we did 9 times. Two guys broke away on lap one and the peloton relaxed until they had about 5 minutes. At about lap 5, things started to pick up and the peloton started to charge down the road.

I made sure to stick near the front to try my best to avoid any crashes. With one lap to go the team worked great together to help deliver CJ (Chris Sutton), our sprinter for the day, to a 6th place finish. It was a super fast finish – around 75 kilometers an hour!

After not racing for over 5 weeks my lungs sure burned, but my mind was clear and my legs felt great. I really believe I’m on my way to having a great finish of the season.

[Side note: Tom, my roommate, just pointed out a huge spider in our room. And now another. Oh man, our room is full of huge spiders and mosquitoes the size of maple leaves! It’s as if we have our own little Polish ecosystem in our room.]

Well, wish me good luck! If I make it through the night with the bugs, I will write another report tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Steven Cozza

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