Monday, August 16, 2004

Gold gold gold

I'm really getting into the Olympic spirit, completely and utterly inspired by the bravery of our athletic corpse in Athens, Greece. What inspired me the most was the gallant and gracious gesture of women's road race silver medalist Judith Arndt, who I believe truly embodies the Olympic Spirit®. Onya Judith! You beaut!

The cool thing about the Olympics for us was that both road race gold medalists (Bettini and Carrigan) are Cyclingnews DiaristsTM. You see, it's all a demonstration of the fact that Cyclingnews actually dictates the outcomes of races before they happen. Woe betide those who refuse to be interviewed or write diaries for us before big events. They invariably suffer eternal damnation i.e. they crash.

But onto the serious results. Guido Huysman smashed his own record in the Schelde TT (Tweebruggen Prijs) and won it for the third year in a row. Onya Guido! You're getting quicker as you get older. Just wait until you're 71, then you'll have the record under 11 minutes I reckon. Chapeau!

For myself personally like, I did manage to get down to Aalst last week for a race, after the Lovendegem non-event. Unfortunately I wasn't really switched on mentally at all (too much work), so I just sat in the bunch for about half of it and was too far back when it split to buggery. The legs weren't too bad, but we were pulled out after two hours @ 42km/h on a very bumpy, very up and down course. I was just out of the money in 44th/74 starters, but that was my own silly fault. You simply can't ride down the back for the whole damn race and expect to finish in a good place. Still, it was OK training and the pootjes were good enough.

I got a little more motivated for Langerbrugge yesterday, because I know the course well, having raced it four times in the past, and I also had these very trick deep rimmed carbon wheels on. They're called Lightweights, and they're made in Germany. Many of the top pro's use them e.g. Bettini, Ullrich, Garzelli, so I reckon they'll do me. They're over €2000 a pair though...

In fact, the wheels had a very motivational effect on me. I wanted to use the race as training, so I made sure I was in the top 20 for pretty much all of it. Missed the first break of course, but I went in many attacks in the first hour and also contributed to the chain gang which got working at one stage to bring the break back. We averaged 44.5 km/h for the first hour, and brought all but three of the break back. They stayed away and Dariusz Strole won again, just like he did in Wondelgem earlier this year.

Once I got into the habit of getting in all the moves, it was actually very hard to get out of it, even though I could feel myself slowing down at halfway. I just kept going forward and sprinting after anything I could, in the hope that I could get in the next break. I guess that's the way to race these anyway, although it's better to pick your moment a bit more. I reckon I attacked about 20-30 times.

The bunch was pretty ragged with about three laps to go, and that's when the next break went (going for fourth place). With two to go, I saw an opportunity to get in the next group (going for 9th or 10th) but I didn't have the conviction. It probably would have saved me some pain later.

With just over one 8 km lap to go, the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down on us. I found Hilton McMurdo's wheel and stuck to it as he hammered off the remnants of the bunch with one other guy, picking up various stragglers in the first part of the last lap. It was all I could do to hang on, but I felt bad about it and did a turn when we were very close to catching the next group (that had escaped on the previous lap). That was one turn too many, and I found myself running the engine dry. I sat up and sucked down the rest of my squeezy and waited for the next group of four, which contained AKIRA. I did a total of one turn in that group, just for show, and then rolled in behind them for 28th. There were 59 starters, so that's not too bad. Hilton got 13th - I knew the wheel to be on :-)

All up, I did 120 km in 2:46:30, while the winner Strole finished in 2:45:00. Afterwards I just sat in the kleedkamers for a while without moving, waiting for the rain to ease up and for my energy to come back. I felt utterly drained, which was a good feeling because I knew that I had gone all out. Unlike Aalst where I still had plenty of energy left, just not the will to get involved. In theory, with a few days of taking it easy, I should be stronger for the next race in Evergem.

Interesting fact: It's rained every day for the last week.

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