March 21, 2013

Double Header Weekend

Saturday I was once again back to Holland, Nederlands, The Netherlands, Paie-Bas, that ridiculously flat country to the left of Germany or whatever you want to call it. After two races here I knew what was coming and to be honest I was far from excited, but I was optimistic as it was a lower calibre then the races I had done in the weeks previous. When I saw some of the older conti riders lining up 45minutes before the start I was a little curious as to why and decided to follow suit. It was cold, but all 200 riders were soon on the line. When we got the start we still had to ride 1.3km's of neutral and they were probably the most insane 1300m of my life. Guys where getting off their bikes in the corners and clawing through people on foot to make up places, trying to jump over strange road furniture and crashing, some guys even rode along the railroad tracks we crossed and then turned left back into the peleton. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a portage across the canal. All the kamikaze riding like this made me a little anxious for the start.

We started and within a kilometre the peleton was in 3 big groups and riders where spitting out the back. The one conti team at the race put it in the gutter and if you wanted to keep them insight you needed to let them ride ahead and start and new echelon, of course no one wanted to do that and the suffering began. Fast forward an hour and I am in a group of 15 or so with the leaders of who knows how many a few hundred metres ahead. We chased for a couple of hours but never got anywhere and we were pulled. 30 riders finished. After a while I started feeling really good, it makes me wonder if I had got a good warm up and lined up last I would of stayed in the lead group for a longer time. Who knows. What I do know is that I need to be a master of positioning and getting out of the gutter if I want to race in Holland.

Sunday I raced a local kermis in the town of Budigen. I felt a little tried and my moral was pretty low after having been sent to the absolute possible worst courses for me in my last few races. Happy to be back in Belgium however I just pretended I was in a Junior race again and approached it as such. Lots of attacking, riding hard, getting in moves, and driving the pace up climbs. I was happy to see I was (in my humble opinion ;) one of the strongest riders there! I never went into extreme difficulty and getting a result was just down to making it in the right break.

100km into the race the pack of 150 was now down to 30. A move had gone with a AnPost rider (who is currently ranked 2nd in Belgium) and two of my Lotto teammates up the road. Eager to get back in the action with my good feelings I waited for someone to go so I could mark them. I knew if I jumped on them right away it would be too appealing for other riders to follow so I would wait a few hundred meters. Soon enough a 3M rider went and I waited then caught him up the next climb, one of my teammates up the road fell back and two guys bridged up and I was in a group of 5 riding 30 seconds ahead of the pack and 30 seconds behind the leaders. I tried to go by myself across the gap but my companions wouldn't let me go and it would not be cool to drag them up to my teammate. So I waited until we were close enough to the finish that a catch was impossible and I did a few digs but couldn't break away to collect third place. To my surprise I did manage to pick up 5th, out sprinting half of my group.

I am really happy with that result. I know I am strong enough to make an impact in any race but I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to certain types of races. Good thing I have some time to do this, no need to panic.

Organized 5 strong

Handing out some pain! (early on, notice the pack stretching into the distance)


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