So the run of bad luck continued through July and into August, including a collision with a car and less than a week later getting taken down by a biddon during the third stage of the Ronde van de provincie Antwerpen. The body has taken a bit of a pounding and I have less skin now than the start of the month, but no broken bones or injuries that will keep me off the bike, which is always a bonus in my mind.
Midway through July I decided it was time to take a bit of a break anyway. A lot of racing up until that point and the body was calling for a rest. Maybe a year or two ago I would have had difficulty taking a break, especially at this point of the year, however experience has taught me that when the body is that tired rest is needed. Nothing will be lost by doing so, but continuing to race and train when the body is clearly depleted will send you into a big hole, which you may take a long time to come out of. Blood tests confirmed that a number of key things were depleted and so it was certainly time to rest up.
What was the outcome??? A fresh Dan Patten racing again. Soon after returning I was back to my usual self, feeling fresh and riding aggressively. I placed 9th in a kermesse in Bottelare, a race dominated by the big hitters such as Mario Willems and Tony Bracke. However I was there also and it was only the final decisive spit that I missed out on, otherwise I would have been challenging for the win with these guys. As it was I had to settle for 9th and a Primie, but was certainly a good sign of how the body had recovered and whats still to come.
It was a day later when I was hit by the car. Nothing I could do to avoid it, as it crossed the bike lane not seeing me descending down it and bam straight into the side of the car. I think I instinctively turned my body (as much as possible) away to prevent going head first through the window and instead bounced off the side. However quite a shock and had me seeing stars for a few days after. However luckily I somehow managed to escape without any broken bones (they must be strong!), which would have been the end of my season there and then.
This obviously put in doubt whether I would line up for the Ronde van de provincie Antwerpen just 3 days later, but I decided to start. 4 days of flat, fast racing with the likeliness of bunch sprints or very small time gaps I decided to ride a bit more conservatively the first two days and ride myself into the race. That I did and was feeling surprisingly strong and fresh in doing so. The final two stages I would go into attack mode. On the third stage I got away and it was a fellow brit in Steve Lampier who came with me.....haha two brits away in the Tour of Antwerpen lol We soon established 30+ seconds before another group came across to us. It was all going to plan so far.....that was until I got wiped out by another riders biddon whilst going round a corner. Out it popped and down I went....another heav
y tumble. I chased back through the cars and once recovered and back in the peloton, injuries aside, I felt comfortable following the wheels for the rest of the day.
And so to the final stage...the queen stage....185km....windy, wet and some (smooth) cobbles. Decided to go for broke. Again got away early formin
g the break. With the gap going to 1min+ and the cars being brought through it was good signs. However around 80km in the cars were taken out and bunch was closing in on us....cue to attack again....one rider came with but then he sat up so I was left alone. Eventually another group come across to me and with some fresh legs in the group they gave me a bit of a hard time. I was also very much outnumbered as many had on or two teammates in the group also. I went through a bit of a bad patch without a drink and by 140km the race had split into a number of groups and I found myself back in the peloton. I had rode so aggressively to get the time needed to challenge but it wasnt to be this time. I was to win the bunch sprint, a small consolation of what had been a pretty crazy day in the saddle.
So I returned from Antwerpen without the result that I wanted and with less skin than I started, but more than happy with the way I felt in the race and coming off the back of the month ive had it can only be a good sign for the rest of the season.
(Link to video from final stage of Ronde van de provincie Antwerpen.....me in attack mode!)