Thursday, September 07, 2006

De Laatste Ronde

Once again, it's Journo World's time, and this year it's in Deutschlandsberg in Austria, which should be fun. I have been trying to obtain ein zimmer bitte, but all the zimmers seem to be full. It's probably the Slovenians, who booked up most of a hotel for their vast entourage. The advantage of that is that Primoz - of Slovenian wine fame - has found a spot for me in their hotel and will even pick me up from Graz airport. What a toppie!

The training has been dented by the crap weather and solid workload, so I'm not sure how I'll go. Last Saturday, I tried to do the Trap Op on the front, but I could barely keep it going after the first kilometre. Yes it was a headwind, but we only did it in 5'25 and that's with a few of us working. It was possibly an after effect of the ride I did on Thursday: 105 km, 10 climbs, 2'26 up the Berendries, which is the quickest I've done. I took it easy after that. Today was a bit better: 5'11 with a tailwind by myself, but staying well below threshold, which I definitely wasn't doing Saturday.

Unfortunately, the journo world's course only has one 2km climb in it each lap, and there are only two 35 km laps. I don't think the race will be decided on the climb, but it will serve to inflict Pain. I will be riding the Flandria again, as my new Ridley Noah will only come next Tuesday. Even if I got it this week, it's not enough time to get used to it to race on. Bugger! That'll be a noice machine though.


As I did last year, I went down to Erpe for a final kermis on Monday. They'd shortened the course from 7.7 km to just 5.25 km, and that involved cutting most of the flat part out but leaving in 10 corners. So that meant it was basically climbing or descending, and the only flat section was into a block headwind. 22 laps were scheduled, and we had 38 deelnemers on what was a very, very nice afternoon. Eindelijk!

In the first two laps, I surprised myself by keeping in the top 10 and generally being assertive. You have to be in these races, because you'll normally miss the break if you're not. Funny enough, that's what happened. I drifted back on the third lap and suddenly found myself at the back, as we'd already lost a few riders. Then it split in half on lap four, and of course I was in the wrong half. However, with 20 up front, we had a good chance of getting them *if* we chased. I sensed a certain reluctance and went across on my own on the fifth lap, with one or two others.

Just as I got there, with a portion of the rest of the bunch also chasing now, the front group split again and 15 guys rode away. I wasn't spent, but I was on the wrong side to go with them and thought it would come back anyway. Stupid, as that was the race gone. On lap 6, I attacked with an Irish guy Eoin Concannon (didn't realise he was Irish until afterwards!) and we hovered 10 seconds behind the front group for a bit, but couldn't close it. We were caught by a couple of others, and decided to keep going as there wasn't much point in waiting for the rest of the bunch. It was a circuit where you could work with a small group.

Over the next few laps, we gradually lost time - about 10 seconds a lap. We could have ridden harder to limit it, but we weren't going to get them now. At about halfway, Eoin did a hard turn up the steepish 200m climb and got rid of one. Actually it could have been two but I didn't fancy doing the rest of the race with one other, so I made sure the third guy was back on before I did a turn.

The gap went out over a minute, then a bit more, and finally the other two started to slow down. A group of three caught us on about the 13th lap, which I was grateful for, and we picked it up again. Two of them were young guys from De Dijlespurters Mechelen, and they were working well. There was also Rene Mertens from the orange R.A.P. team. He must be close to 50, but he could still do turns. I remember him from Laarne a few years ago.

We were given the laatste ronde on lap 15, and another guy had somehow managed to get up to us. That was depressing, because he looked like he could easily lose 15kg, and this was a hilly race! I decided to see what I had left in the legs and followed one of the Dijlespurters when he attacked on the first hill. We got a bit of a gap, and he had a teammate in the group so it would disrupt the chase a bit. But disaster struck when we hit one of the off-camber speed hump corners and encountered an old lady crossing the road! Jeez Louise!!! I locked it up and got around her on the inside, and my companion chose the right hand route through some deep gravel. Somehow, we survived, but we lost most of our lead, which was annoying.

The others caught us just at the bottom of the short hill, but we both gave it everything to try and get rid of as many as we could. At the top, there were five of us as we'd lost the fat guy and Rene Mertens (phew). Then it was 2 km mostly downhill to the finish, and the Dijlespurters 1-2'd until one of them finally got away for 16th. I followed Stijn De Vriese in for 18th, reasonably satisfied because it was a nice hard race. We did 84 km at 40 km/h on a hilly course, and with the ride down and back it was 140 km all up.

The front group split into seven plus eight, and Mr Goncaras won a good sprint from local Marc Baeyens. That was a good way to finish the race, because when you have seven guys sprinting it out, it generally means it wasn't sold.

Rode home with Javier Contreras from Mexico, racing for Kingsnorth. He'd busted a spoke early on and left the race. Nice guy and we had a good discussion.

Sorry about the boringness of this one. I'll write something more descriptive about the weekend.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with the Journo World's time! I will cheer for you!
Go for it!

Reno said...

"Sorry about the boringness of this one. I'll write something more descriptive about the weekend." ... While waiting on that more entertaining part, I'll congratulate you already with your victory - world champion!!