Monday, March 29, 2010

Podium Number 1 of the season and a chance meeting with Kurt Asle Arvesen!

On the 28th March the Asfra Racing Team (and support club) headed to Montreuil sur Mer in France. The race had the mixed characteristics of a race in France, a Belgium kermesse and almost like a criterium in the UK. 23 laps of a 3.8km circuit was the order for the day. A fast, twisty decent, followed by a flattish section, then a longish climb back up to the town, topping off with half a km cobbled section before a short section of tarmac leading to the finish line. Although a relatively short, criterium type race, the nature of the course meant that this was going to break up and it did so early. A team mate of mine kicked things off and once brought back I countered on the first time up the climb and with it set myself up for the King of the Mountains competition. A lap or two of attacks and soon a break was established. Although throughout the race the break swelled on occasions to 6 or so riders, the vast majority of the time it was myself and two other riders ploughing away at the front. The problem I had was that whenever we were joined by others it tended to be teammates of these two riders and so I found myself outnumbered and so I had to cover everything and attack further to even it up. This included attacking to get clear of the very strong Ludovic Capelle (ex Belgium professional national champion) who I knew I had to try and get away from and who's respect I earned in doing so. The break worked well, however at times there was disorganisation. They had team mates chasing and I had a teammate also chasing so it was difficult to know what to really do. On the one hand I was being told to slow by the team, which I did, but as I did the others would attack and so I was forced to react. At the same time completely waiting for my teammate may have not been the absolute right move as along with him were other team mates of my breakaway companions including Capelle. After being jumped again with a lap to go I tagged back on and although we all had digs on the final lap it would come down to the wire. A lot of looking at each other the final time up the climb and then onto the cobbles. The chase group was not far behind so we still had to be careful and hot on our tails they were. They would not quite catch us, but I was beaten into third in the final dash for the line. Disappointed not to win but satisfied with the performance, showing myself strong yet again at the head of the race and securing my first podium of the year and in doing so also wrapping up the King of the Mountains prize. 2 bouquets of flowers, 2 trophies, 105 euros prize money and 4 kisses from Miss Montreuil......not too sad for an afternoons work!


1. Fabian Behague - ESEG Douai


2. Mickael Delattre - EC Raismes Petite Foret Porte du Hainaut


3. Daniel Patten - Asfra Racing Team


4. Fabien Fournier - EC Raismes Petite Foret Porte du Hainaut


5. Anthony Louis - EC Raismes Petite Foret Porte du Hainut


6. Pierre Drancourt - ESEG Douai


The result in Montreuil Sur Mer came off the back of a decent weeks training following the race in Merelbeke the previous Sunday. With no races mid week for me, we decided to string a little block of training together. The combination of this, the form that I have been building from the races so far and establishing more of a routine again, has left me feeling good and raring to go again. Im feeling stronger week by week and my confidence is growing with every race, knowing that If I get it right on the day, then I can be there for the win. The good thing with racing on the continent and Belgium in particular....theres no time to dwell....i'll have another chance to go for glory in just a few days time. Cant wait :)

A nice added bonus the following day when I was finishing up my recovery spin when I ended up riding and chatting with Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen. With Kurt staying in Oudenaarde ahead of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, he was off out for a recovery spin himself after his weekends efforts and so we headed off out along the Schelde. A really nice guy who seemed as interested in what I was doing as I obviously was about him and so an unexpected bonus to my mornings ride. He even waited for me when I punctured on the way back. Hopefully one day I'll also be kitted up for Team Sky and be teammates with Kurt. All the best for the Ronde van Vlaanderen!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Coming close in Merelbeke

Best part of 200 riders, good crowds, the music playing, the beer flowing and the kermesse burgers cooking.....all the elements of a typical kermesse here in Belgium. I made the point of being on the front from the start here, knowing like usual it would explode from the off and not wanting to be caught too far back when it did. Not long into the frist lap and I found myself in the first move off the front but this was to be pulled back only a few kms later. After a few laps in the bunch I thought it was time to try again. Making good use of the bike path and the cobbles dividing the path from the road, again typical of racing in Belgium I was back at the front. After getting off the front numerous times over the next few laps, the elastic finally split and I was away. A group of 13 formed at the front and we worked well. There was never really any let up in the speed.....everyone was eager to make it work. Primes come and went without too much disruption....most being more focused on staying out to the finish. Maybe in England, a group of this size, working aswell as it did and building up a gap as it did would have been home and dry, however in Belgium its never over, especially when ‘kermesse kings’ Patrick Cocquyt, Tony Bracke and co are chasing. Still working well I began to think about how i would play this one going into the last couple of laps....when would the right time to launch an attack be or to save it for the finale? With everyone working well I knew going too early could be a mistake as it would be pulled back. As with many races here the break looked like it would go to the finish in one piece and the winner decided right at the death. At that point everyone is tired having worked hard from start to finish and so it comes down to who plays it right and who has that extra bit when it matters. Going into the last few kms we were still working hard and there was a lot more shouting....both signs that we were being hunted. A little look behind and a group of 20 was on our heels. I jumped, hoping that there would be a slight relax in the groups as they formed into one but a few hundred meters later I was back. This was going down to a sprint...32 riders going for the win. I got myself towards the head of the pack within the last km but the race moved right and I found myself too boxed in when the sprint really opened up. There was no way through with the group spreading across the road. Cocquyt would take the win, I placed 23rd. Maybe a little disappointed with the end position given the race I had, but content with the performance I gave in what was a real exciting race to be part of, so hard to be too disappointed. The big result is definately coming...if im constantly putting myself into these sorts of postitions its only a matter of time before it comes off...watch this space!


21/03/2010- MERELBEKE (O)

1.12B - ind.reg.wedstr.(100-120 km) Elite z.c./U23

()

1. COCQUYT Patrick

JOHN SAEY CYCLING TEAM

02:39:00

2. PIETERS Andres

FUJI TEST TEAM

3. DE REKENEIRE Kim

FEEST & SPORTCOMITE KWENENBOS

4. WAUTERS Willem

DAVO - LOTTO - DAVITAMON

5. VANHUFFEL Nic

BCV WORKS CT INGELMUNSTER

6. VAN HOLEN Kim

TEAM-THIELEMANS & CO

7. DE KEULENAER Reno

DAVO - LOTTO - DAVITAMON

8. BRACKE Tony

JOHN SAEY CYCLING TEAM

9. PENNE Frederik

SDC - ROGELLI CYCLING TEAM

10. BROEDERS Garrit

JONG VLAANDEREN-BAUKNECHT

11. VERHAEGEN Christophe

FLEMISH CYCLING PROJECTS

12. DHAENE Brecht

DAVO - LOTTO - DAVITAMON

13. VERVERKEN Gerdy

CT FORCE - WERVIK VZW

14. GRASHEV Martin

NESSEBAR

15. GYUROV Spas

NESSEBAR

16. POPPE Rutger

WK NOORD WEST BRABANT

17. DE SCHAMPHELAIRE Bjorn

ASFRA RACING TEAM

18. EECKHOUT Kurt

WETTERSE DAKWERKEN-AUTOGLAS WETTEREN CT

19. VERSCHRAEGEN Krijn

CUBE-FINTRO CT

20. SABO Pedro

DMC- CYCLING TEAM

21. DE WINNE Jurgen

WETTERSE DAKWERKEN-AUTOGLAS WETTEREN CT

22. DE ROOS Robby

WIELERSPORTVER. ARTEVELDE VZW GENT

23. PATTEN Daniel

ASFRA RACING TEAM

24. TESSEUR Kim

ROCK WERCHTER-CHOCOLADE JACQUES C.T.

25. THYS Steven

C.T. KEUKENS BUYSSE KNESSELARE

26. VAN MINGEROET Jarno

PROFEL CYCLING TEAM

27. ALMHEIM OLE MARTIN

SANDNES SK

28. POELMAN Laurens

BCV WORKS CT INGELMUNSTER

29. MARTYNAS Maniusis

UTENOS KKSC

30. VAN CLEEMPUTTE Timmy

SDC - ROGELLI CYCLING TEAM

31. STANDAERT Hansjorg

DIRK VERSTUYFT CYCLING TEAM

32. DE COSTER Matthieu

ROYAL CUREGHEM SPORTIF - BRUSSEL

33. HAERS Joris

BIANCHI NIEUWE HOOP TIELEN VZW

:01:48

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shout Outs!

I am pleased to announce that I will now be supported by the Dave Rayner Fund for the 2010 season. A big thanks to the committee for there decision to support me this year as it will be a big help and allow me to fully concentrate on the reason that im here....to ride well, win races and progress further in the sport. At the same time a big thank you must also go to 'The Grays Public Purposes and Recreational Trust' and 'The Thurrock Sports Council' who both have provided me with grants during the winter to support me for the 2010 racing season. Local organisations to me at home who have shown there generosity by supporting me and I am extremely grateful for such assistance. To Adrian Timmis @ Cadence Sport who has coached me for the past two years and who I have improved greatly under. Also to Paligap ltd for continued support towards Cycleops Powertap Powermeters, which i couldnt be without and of course Jim Chisman of Flanders Racing in the UK who has supported me in many ways coming into the 2010 season and who is the UK importer of the Flanders bikes and Jazz Cycletech components (check out the Flanders bikes @ http://www.flandersfietsen.be/ and Jazz Cycletech components @ http://www.jazz-cycletech.be/ and contact chismans25@hotmail.com for more info).


Just a typical Wednesday afternoon in Belgium

17/03/10 Esplechin

172 starters on a wednesday afternoon....only in Belgium. Was a hard race from the off, again typical of Belgium. With only 1 amateur race taking place on this day it meant this race was full on. A couple of crashes in the peleton on the same corner on consecutive laps didnt help matters. Missed out on lead group of around 8 riders eventully getting up the road. Did then jump away and was soon to be joined by more riders to for chase group but was reeled in. However by this time the speed of the race had taken its toll and the peleton had been considerably reduced, maybe down to 60 riders.Into the last few kms i positoned myelf well at the head of the peleton wanting to be in the right place for the bunch sprint. Into the last km i was still right there and with some bends in the road before the final right hander into the finish straight there were some hairy moments. I got swamped a little before the final corner, a few elbows flying, but managed to keep a fairly decent positon inside the top 10 going into the finishing straight and made up some more places in the final dash for the line ending up 21st overall. Good to get some practice in with the bunch sprint but ofcourse would have prefered to have been up the road fighting it out for the win. Another hard 120km of racing in the legs which i’ll be all the better for. The weather was pretty decent for this race, but the next days training really felt like spring had really arrived. A good few hours spin out in the sun in the morning, with a trip to cafe later in the afternoon....where i must add we got to sit outside....not bad for March!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gathering Momentum

The result in Lierde was backed up with an 8th in Geluwe (13/03/10). A chase of the lead group over the last 30km led to an exciting finish. Unfortunately the chase group I was in just run out of road to make the junction with the leaders.....another km maybe would of done it! Even though some of the riders were pulled back 6 remained just in front and would fight it out for the win. I jumped away from the chase group with around 1km to go and was joined by a Beveren 2000 rider (Quick Step feeder team) and we would go on to claim 7th and 8th respectively.

13/03/2010- GELUWE (W) 1.12B - ind.reg.wedstr.(100-120 km) Elite z.c./U23

Aantal deelnemers: 96

1.NACHTERGAELE NIELS, NEW HEEBRA-LOMBARDEN, 02:51:30
2. KUYPERS BART, ISOMAX - KENTUCKY CT MIDDELKERKE 00:00:10
3. NAUWYNCK STIJN, NEW HEEBRA-LOMBARDEN
4. DEGRAEVE THOMAS, PASS CYCLISME
5. VANHUFFEL WIM, WORLDOFBIKE.GR
6. GODERIS JELLE, CYCLING TEAM LUTHO
7. VERHELST LOUIS, WIELERGROEP BEVEREN 2000 VZW 00:00:25
8. PATTEN DANIEL, ASFRA RACING TEAM
9. DEVRIENDT TOM, NEW HEEBRA-LOMBARDEN 00:00:35
10. DECLERCQ THIERRY, WIELERTEAM DECOCK-SPORTIVO MOORSELE

The day after I was to race again in a kermesse in Koolskamp (14/03/10). Missed out on lead group when the hammer went down after a crash in the peleton early on, but in a real race of attrition where the peleton gradually wore thinner and thinner lap by lap i found myself in a small group going for 16th. When it comes to Belgium whether your going for 1st or going for 30th theres still pride at stake (and some well earned euros!) and so its always a race to the end. I was to come in 17th, so still a solid performance having worked hard to get myself even into that position. A ride out to the race and back meant a good training day was had, with some good hard racing and some more euros in my back pocket for good measure.

14/03/2010- KOOLSKAMP (W)

1.12B - ind.reg.wedstr.(100-120 km) Elite z.c./U23

Aantal deelnemers: 100

1. CLAEYS KEVIN PWS EIJSSEN CYCLING TEAM 02:41:00

2. RAEDT NIELSEN ISOMAX - KENTUCKY CT MIDDELKERKE

3. MAENE KEVIN CYCLING TEAM LUTHO

4. DEBAENE MARTIJN PWS EIJSSEN CYCLING TEAM

5. GELDHOF DAVID WIELERTEAM DECOCK-SPORTIVO MOORSELE

6. NAUWYNCK STIJN NEW HEEBRA-LOMBARDEN

7. VANDENBUSSCHE JENS NEW HEEBRA-LOMBARDEN :01:01

8. SERLET TOM KSV DEERLIJK GAVERZICHT VZW

9. BORRY KIM AN POST SEAN KELLY TEAM :03:01

10. NACHTERGAELE NIELS NEW HEEBRA-LOMBARDEN :03:16

11. TAKENOCHI YO

12. DEMEYERE GEOFFREY WIELERTEAM DECOCK-SPORTIVO MOORSELE :03:49

13. D`HAEMERS JASON DMC- CYCLING TEAM

14. CHAMON ALEXANDER WC SOENENS- JARTAZI-CONSTRUKT GLAS

15. RAMMANT STIJN WIELERTEAM DECOCK-SPORTIVO MOORSELE

16. NANKERVIS TOMMY CINELLI-DOWN UNDER :05:01

17. PATTEN DANIEL ASFRA RACING TEAM

18. VANDER MEIREN WARD WIELERTEAM DECOCK-SPORTIVO MOORSELE

19. DEVOLDERE NIKI WIELERTEAM DECOCK-SPORTIVO MOORSELE

20. VANDENHEEDE KENNY CYCLING TEAM LUTHO

Mixing with the Kermesse Kings

Perhaps a combination of Majorca, having a hectic time before getting out to Belgium, bit of illness and settling down in Belgium, but for the first few weeks certainly I have been feeling rather lethargic. However its just been a case of taking a day at a time and allowing the body to feel fresh again. I think the key however was trying to reestablish some sort of normal routine again and get some structure....can make a huge difference! The races however have certainly gone better than the body had been feeling for much of the rest of the time.

I opened my Kermesse campaign properly in Lierde (07/03/10) and did so in style, attacking some of the real big ‘Kermesse Kings’ and in the process almost taking the win. Just 20km down the road it was perfect to ride out to. With this and a feeling that i just needed to really open up and race hard I attacked early and found myself clear. I was soon to be joined by some of the big hitters inc Mario Willems and Tony Bracke. As a group we worked well together but into the second half of the race more riders come across and the lead group began to swell. Knowing this I went again with something like 30km to go and it was to be the decisive move. Ok, maybe this was a little early at this stage with the big hitters still there, but i did it more so to try and break up the group...and so it worked! 10km or so later i was joined by another small group riders, all be it the best riders, but atleast it had done some damage and that was how it would be to the finish. A lot of jumping around on the final lap as usual and i tried my luck aswell with a few km’s to go but the earlier solo efforts had just about set in. Bracke was to take the win going on the last climb and I finished in 5th just a few seconds later.


07/03/2010- LIERDE (O) 1.12B - ind.reg.wedstr.(100-120 km) Elite z.c./U23
Aantal deelnemers: 93
1. BRACKE TONY - JOHN SAEY CYCLING TEAM 02:53:00
2. CRIEL TOM - C.T. KEUKENS BUYSSE KNESSELARE 00:00:03
3. DE ZUTTER KRISTOF - WIELERSPORTVER. ARTEVELDE VZW GENT
4. WILLEMS MARIO - KINGSNORTH INTERNATIONAL WHEELERS
5.
PATTEN DANIEL - ASFRA RACING TEAM
6. PENNE FREDERIK - SDC - ROGELLI CYCLING TEAM 00:00:15
7. VANDAMME DAVY - SDC - ROGELLI CYCLING TEAM 00:00:50
8. CASSIDY MARK - SEAN KELLY TEAM
9. VAN SPEYBROECK BART - WIELERSPORTVER. ARTEVELDE VZW GENT
10. VANLUCHENE STIJN - WC SPORTVRIENDEN - EEKLO


2010 Hello Sunshine!

Coming into the the new year and what had already been a good couple of months of the off season training, I found myself with the added bonus of spending the month of January in Majorca. 1st January I was off! Different roads, different scenery and some good weather made a nice change for the month. Training continued to build and I even got to attend the HTC Columbia camp/team presentation for a few days, which was a nice added bonus. As expected came back from Majorca a little tired after racking up some good km’s but the foundations had continued to be laid ahead of the 2010 campaign. A week later it was time for usual pre season physiological testing in the lab. As in 2009 it was carried out by Dr Simon Jobson and Dr James Hopker at the University of Kent and once again the figures were good, mostly falling into the ‘World Class’ category. This despite still feeling the effects of a pretty heavy spell of training in Majorca and coming down with a stomach bug on the day, so to still produce such figures showed the winter had gone well. A pretty ‘healthy’ winter i had, but it was to be this last part where i fell short. First the stomach bug and then a cold in February, meant it had caught me out right at the end. Never the less a fairly undisrupted winter until then, so no panic necessary. Just a case of getting rid and feeling fresh again. As it was February turned out to be a hectic month doing everything before making the move to Belgium....should have expected it really!

On the 21st February I left for Belgium, more specifically Oudenaarde. This was also the day the team presentation was supposed to take place, however after arriving in Oudenaarde and having a coffee at the Tour of Flanders museum just by chance we bumped into the legend that is Freddy Maertens who informed us that the presentation had to be postponed due to a delay with the kit. This left a week until the first race of the season and that race would be Gent-Staden. Bit of a false start really with the weather playing the biggest part. Cold, wet and windy....a weather front had hit Belgium! Caused much chaos with crashes, apparently usual in this race anyway, but this year the wind was literally blowing riders into each other and those left standing were extremely cold by Staden. Needless to say not many finished the race.....I think 5 went the full distance. It was definately a case of ‘On to the next one’!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Introduction: story so far

I felt the first post should be a bit of an introduction about how I come to find myself based in Belgium for the 2010 cycling season. An athlete in my teen years excelling over cross country, road and track I made the decision to switch to cycling in the summer of 2006. With a promising future in the sport it wasnt an easy decision, however after a few years of battling with an injury I felt a change was necessary. Having been putting some hours in on the bike to maintain fitness and having followed cycling on the tv I wasnt going into it completely blind, but it still was a big change to make after dedicating so much to athletics. None the less I began competing and within 10 races I had got my first win and had moved up to a 2nd category license. The 2007 season was another trial year to gain experience. Gaining my first category license, having a few wins and ranking first u23 rider in the South East Series, was a clear indication i was making good progress. This was also the year that i had my first experiences of racing in Belgium, a big contributor to my development.


In 2008 I was in my final year at Loughborough University studying for a degree in Sport Science and Management. As a result of my progress and testing results I was awarded a TASS (talented athlete) scholarship and at the same time was introduced to my coach, Adrian Timmis (Ex British pro, Olympian and Tour de France rider), who has guided me since. I had 4 wins in 2008 and numerous placings as well as taking the Eastern Counties Cycling Association (ECCA) title. I was part of the Great Britain team that went to the World University Championships in Nijmegen and I placed 4th in the Tour of Pendle Premier Calendar event. I comfortably gained my elite license and in doing so earned 738 points, which would have ranked me 7th in the UK. More racing came in Belgium and a kermesse win was getting ever closer, however my season was cut a little short due to a broken collarbone.


Having progressed well and having completed my degree at Loughborough University I signed for the newly formed Swedish UCI Continental Squad Magnus Maximus Coffee.com in 2009. Pre season testing at the University of Kent with figures such as 489w MAP during ramp test and 7.2 w/kg power to weight ratio indicated a good year ahead. I had a few wins in the UK and I also won a stage of the U6 Cycle Tour in Sweden and in the process took 2nd overall on the General Classification. It was a race that I was leading until being brought down in a crash on a criterium stage. This was backed up by going in the break of the day at the East Yorkshire Classic Premier Calendar event and taking the King of the Mountains title taking 7th overall. After riding the Tour of Pyrenees I spent the final month of the 2010 season riding the end of season pro kermesses in Belgium lining up alongside the likes of Tom Boonen, Francisco Mancebo and others alike.....a sign of how far i had come since taking up the sport.


And so to this year. I felt going to Belgium would be best for my development as a rider. This way I will have an abundance of good quality races and with the results I believe it can lead to good things in the future. Most of my races will be in Belgium, France and of course the UK, where I will also be back throughout the season to compete. However basing myself on the continent and in particular Belgium is a big step towards continuing my development and progressing my cycling career. I started the winter in good shape and this continued throughout, which included spending the month of January in Majorca. Pre season testing at the University of Kent once again produced some 'World Class' figures including VO2max 78.7ml/kg/min. No doubt there will be some exciting tales to tell....keep viewing!