31 July, 2012

Vlaams Brabant

We had a great team race at Vlaams Brabant last week. We finished the race having very convincingly won the climber’s jersey with Bjorn, the best Brabant rider and second place overall with Sibi and 3rd, 4th, and 8th  on various stages.

Being a newly self proclaimed GC rider I sat in well on day one until the final 6km when I put in a do or die attack when I thought I was in with a shout of a stage win. It was too far out though and the sprinters caught me and my breakaway companion on the long wide road to the finish. Stage two was another scorching hot day and after being in a break for some of the day I suffered in the sun, cracked a bit at the end and lost 1:04  as the race shredded. This proved to be annoyingly decisive as I finished on Sunday 1:11 down on GC on Sunday.

Stage three was a flat, 9.4km time trial which was right up my street. I did everything right, felt like a TANK, thought I was going to win it easy peasy, but sadly finished 8 seconds down on the winner in 4th place. On stage four I attacked down a cobbled descent after 25km, thinking that I could be first to the sprint line, win 10 euros and maybe be in with a shout at getting up there on the Sprinter’s jersey. I went much too early though! 4km later I was still off the front alone, wondering where the line was, so I decided to wait for the little group forming behind. We combined to make a group of 5 riders and worked well together up to the finish when I led the sprint out to take the points, much to the other rider’s disgust. We were joined a few kilometres later by another 10 riders (including the leader of the Sprinter’s competition with 3 teammates!) so that was my hopes for a jersey over with. We worked well together as a group but it was another sprinter’s stage and we were swept up by a breakneck speed peloton at 9km to go.

The final stage was another one destined for a bunch sprint, despite plenty of valiant efforts; particularly a team split when we had the ENTIRE TEAM in the break of 10! We went pretty deep to try and get us all to move up on GC, but it wasn’t to be and we were chased down by three or four teams back in the bunch. It was a futile effort, but the team bosses loved the spirit of it, and were raving about it for the rest of the day. It’s pretty special to get the entire team in a breakaway, particularly on a flat sprinters stage and it’s a nice memory to have from the race.

17 July, 2012

Tour des Deux Sevres

This was my best tour to date general classification-wise! I ended up getting 3rd overall, as well as 5th in the time trial. I’ll run through as briefly as I can what happened, so as not to be too boring!

Day one I got in the break of the day, which was sadly doomed, but obviously I didn’t know this at the time so went quite hard to stick it out. We never got more than 1:30 and then got dragged back in by the bunch. I was feeling rather sore so didn't even have it in me to go for any of the mid-race sprints which is a shame because that gets you on the podium.

Day two there was a time trial in the morning which we did some reconnaissance on the night before so I thankfully knew what was coming more or less. It had plenty of blind corners with high hedges, and of course it rained on the day, so when I got a bit confused as to which corner was which I had to tiptoe round them! I fared better than my teammate Kinch though who unfortunately crashed on the first corner, which happened to be wet, oily, downhill and deceptively sharp. I produced a solid 5th place, despite dying a death up the final climb, which I was happy with.

This meant I was now sitting in 6th on G.C. which was exciting for me! I did a good job of sitting in for the afternoon stage and finishing safely in the bunch without losing time. Saturday’s stage was a point to point with a technical finishing circuit and the racing was very aggressive from the beginning. No-one was being allowed to escape and a break was only established on the finishing circuit when everyone was hanging. I managed to sneak into the group of twenty or so and was pretty chuffed with myself. I was contemplating attacking as there were two other riders in the break ahead of me on G.C. but I was beaten to it, and the cheeky French scamp was strong! I countered but couldn’t catch him on the technical circuit and despite several more attempts ended up finishing in the break. The guy who attacked ended up winning the stage and the race overall! Still, I was 3rd on the classification so not a bad days work.

I knew the final stage was going to be a grudge match between me and the Frenchies and it didn’t disappoint. After sitting in well until the final 35km I started attacking the yellow jersey team who were on the front; repeatedly. Lots of attacks, counter attacks, counter counter attacks later and still no luck. The guy in second place overall also had a good go but failed. It came down to a choppy uphill sprint after the break was caught with 3km remaining and I finished fairly near the front to hold my third place. All in all a great experience being an overall contender and something that I’ve not been used to until now!

06 July, 2012

Kruishoutem = WIN

I won my second race of the season yesterday! It was a fairly standard Kermis race around a good little circuit with a section of cobbles, some tight corners and quite a few people watching.

Where's Wally?

I spent most of the race creeping around, letting things unfold and watching people. I’m doing quite well at my new tactic of letting other people be the aggressors and using them as much as possible. 

Yeah Buddy!

It’s so good to win again, as it’s been over four months and I’d almost forgotten how. Hopefully I can keep being a crafty devil and get a few more good results before the season’s out.


I went to a Pro Kermis yesterday with Llewellyn and we paid three euros to race a full Rabobank squad, including Lars Boom and Michael Matthews, 1t4i rider John Degenkolb, and a fleet of other top Pros. It was pretty darn cool. I did plenty of sneaking around and hiding as the professional Kermisses are 160km, which is a full length race in my eyes!

Here comes the pain train.

Nearing the end there was a break of seven riders just up the road and I thought I'd try to attack across (that's a joke by the way; it was Lars Boom and Andy Fenn up the road!).

But I did attack with 2km to go and felt good. There was no getting away from the Rabobank leadout train for Theo Bos though and I was reeled in. I snuck back into the line and managed 27th place. All in all a really fun day. I can't wait for my next pro Kermis.

01 July, 2012

I won a sprint!

... For 57th place, against four other guys. Which as far as I can see makes me the next Mark Cavendish.
Yesterday was the Under 27 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race in Zottegem, which is just down the road, so it was our local race. It included copious amounts of cobbles and steep little climbs (of course it did, this is Belgium) so thankfully I've started going a bit better.

There were several crashes in the first hour which meant some fun chasing back on, and when the race started to shred ninety minutes in, I was too far back. I decided to sit back and cruise, to try and get to the end of the race rather than do too much and suffer later on. I was in a big group of about 70 riders so we were still motoring along. As the race went on the group was whittled down by the course and fatigue, until there was only 7 of us left.

We finished way down on the front of the race, but I felt pretty strong and did a good sprint at the end so that's progress in my eyes. I've got a week or so now before a stage race to do a bit of training and maybe a Kermis or two for some money. Yayyyy!