Riding hard and back to writing about it!
So its been way too long since my last posting. Since that mid-April time post, my race schedule has increased, my condition also (always a satisfier) whilst the weather like much of europe has continued to be mixed. However with nice spells of nice, sunny belgium days, the good weather has outweighed those bad days....just! We'll get the real low point of these past months out the way first and that came on my return to the UK for the National Championships, which certainly did not go to plan. Not helped by a run-in with a 4x4-trailer combination just two days before, but given I got away without broken bones, im not one for too many excuses. Maybe this was just a sign to stay in belgium :p
And to the good side of racing, which has been non stop for me really since the last posting. Unfortunately my first win of the season has still eluded me, though another podium placing with a 2nd in Sint Kornelis Horebeke amongst other top 10's has shown I am trying ;-) The 2nd place in particular was a strong showing where I had been in a 100km+ 2 man breakaway, before being joined by a teammate and one other rider in the latter stages. My teammate would then attack and I would take the ride to the finish and make it a Soenens Construkt Glas 1st and 2nd. Nice to be part of that!
Along with the results however, I have more than ever been showing my strengths as a rider. Certainly as history has always proved a man for the breakaway (we will come onto this with some videos below), but also with the work I have been doing within the races for my team. Whether it be pulling/controlling on the front, chasing down attacks, helping riders to move up when necessary, usual domestique duties, etc, I have been doing it in these past months. Not only doing it, but enjoying it and showing how capable I am at doing such work. Maybe my calling really is as breakaway man/loyal domestique!
My most honourable day on the bike however came just two days ago in the pro kermesse GP Jean-Pierre Monsere Roeselare. A race that remembered the Accent Jobs Willems Veranda's rider Rob Goris who sadly died just last week. With a breakaway gone which included the likes of Stijn Devolder, 3 Topsport Vlaanderen riders and 2 Landbouwkrediet riders, it was left to the team of Accent Jobs to bring back the breakaway. Given the circumstances of the race and my willingness to work I saw it as an opportunity to get to the front and join in the chase. Something appreciated by the riders and something that on such an occasion was a privilege to be part of. And after a good long chase, the breakaway was pulled back, proving once again that satisfaction does not just come from winning alone.
And so to those breakaways. Two of which came most recently and luckily were documented.
Fleche Ardennaise (Ardense Pijl Topcompetition UCI 1.2), a race regarded as one of (if not) the hardest one day race at this level for the parcours that it tackles. Going in the early break may be seen as a hard move on such a race, which is cue for me to go on the attack (like I need an excuse :p). I bridged across solo to the breakaway of 3 that had just gone and proceeded to drive it to get the gap out. Unfortunately only 2 of us out of the 4 were prepared to work but despite this we got the gap out to 3 minutes over the peloton. However in such a race this time would be lost as the race and the climbs wore on. Clearly "in the zone" and riding strongly (and neglecting hydration just a little...oops!), cramp would set in further into the race. Eventually caught by a chase group I continued working in this group at the head of the race before eventually being swallowed up by what was left of the peloton, with heavy cramps having set in. Regardless of a 50th placing and 3rd in the hill berg classement, I had left my mark again in the Ardennes. You can see it on the following video:
Next up came IWT Oetingen (UCI 1.2) and coming just a few days after the Nationals I was out to make up for the disappointment experienced there. Cue attack again! I was in the early break before being caught. Went again alone before taking a slight wrong turn. Back in the peloton I was soon to attack again and finally third time lucky the break of the day was away (sounds so simple lol). I went over the Bosberg 1st, the Muur 2nd amongst other climbs and would be leading the berg classement. The break would swell but with the main teams represented it was all looking good for me. Then we hit the finishing circuits and a circuit that I would relish....cobbles! However yet again misfortune as on one of the pave sections I would get a flat tire and with only 50secs over what was left of the peloton I was out of the breakaway and in no mans land. Back into a once again reduced peloton but still leading the berg classement I would continue to the finish (in and out the cars mind due) placing 64th only to find out I had missed out on the berg classement by just 4 points, finishing 2nd. A disappointing end to what had been a great race for me. But once again I could take heart in the performance and once again satisfaction could be taken by another epic breakaway day. Again you can catch some breakaway action on the following video:
Hopefully I get some luck back on my side in the races ahead. Finally taking a few days off from racing, I will race again in a kermesse in a few days time in my teams home town of Ingelmunster, before taking to the start in the Ronde van Luik (Tour of Liege) next week, followed by the Ronde van Namen (Tour of Namur) at the beginning of August. Good times ahead im sure!
Until next time....