Tuesday, June 01, 2004


It's late but here goes... (why does everyone hold their races on public holidays? Don't answer that).

As intended, I did get out to Bottelare (fourth one down) for a Monday kermis, and actually had a half decent race. There were only 31 starters, due to the large number of races on in the area. Must have been five or six within a 30 km radius, and all had between 30-60 starters. Although this makes it easier to finish in the top 30 :-) it actually makes for a harder race because the bunch splits up so quickly.

The course was 13 laps of 8.7 km, with some long straights, a climb/descent and three cobbled corners. Not a bad course at all actually. It was raining lightly when I rode out, and for the first part of the race the roads were half wet which made things interesting. It got even more interesting after about 5 laps when the heavens opened for a lap and it pissed down on us. I am slowly losing my fear of corners, but cobbles in the wet are never much fun.

As soon as it started raining, the bunch really sped up and everyone started attacking madly. I got up the front and held my posi for about half a lap (a Good Plan), then lost it all when a series of attacks went. The bunch blew to bits on the false flat/uphill headwind section, and very quickly a group of 16 formed that the rest of us had no hope in catching.

Not deterred this time, and more interested in getting some good race training in, I had a go over the top of the hill and took one guy with me. Unfortunately he was not so strong and was also the world's worst cornerer. I mean I'm bad enough, and I was putting several lengths into him around each one. Waiting, waiting, waiting... So we were doomed and the rest of the stragglers caught back on after about half a lap.

There were now 12 of us left and the 16 leaders were outta sight, so we rolled over fairly well for a whole lap, before I had another go on the climb. This time we ended up with six guys and we were all working!! Unheard of!! That made my day, believe me, and I was actually really surprised when we got caught by two others.

Still not deterred, I followed an attack by Peter Ballet (who rides with us on the Schelde) over the top of the hill, having determined that this was the best place to get a gap. This time we ended up with just four, and the others didn't come back. There was a strong Russian guy from Bert Story Piels (TT3) there and I didn't fancy my chances of getting away from him, so we just rode together for some more laps until they gave us the laatste ronde with 4 laps to go.

I had an ok sprint in that it felt fast, but I still ended up 4th out of 4 :-). I tried to glue myself to the Russian's wheel but he was hella strong. Anyway, ended up with 20th and a good 90 km in the legs so that was the object of the exercise. Last year I didn't get one top 20 result, even in a race where there were only 21 starters :-) [stem bolt came loose].

Jeez, better clean the bike again.

a demain,

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