My final Junior only race of the season and I’d like to thank everyone that’s been involved helping me get to races physically and financially, without them I wouldn’t have had such a good quality of races to ride. Please check out my sponsors page if you haven’t already.
On Thursday the 15th of September my Mum, Brother and I traveled to Swanley where we were due to meet John Barclay, Dave Storey, Rhys.B and Jake.S the next morning. After a slight change of plan due to transportation of bikes we met at Maidstone services where we also met Jacob.V, Tom.E and Louis.R-D. We then only had 80 miles excluding the tunnel. Once we’d eaten some baguettes from a bakery for our lunch we headed to where we were staying in Koksijde, A very basic but quite hostel. After getting changed outside as we couldn’t yet get in we checked over the bikes and headed out to the TT course, which is stage 2a on the Sunday. We had a lot of rain in the pre race ride but managed to test out the course at what could be the worst weather.
Stage 1-The only stage that had some sort of climb with 3 large laps and 4 small laps. The race was ready to go at 2 o clock and we rolled out neutralized to a war cemetery where we payed our respects mainly to young boys of ages 16-18, it was read out by the mayor/race officials that we were here just like them, ready to go into a battle, to win, except we could afford to lose and live another day, unlike many of the young boys did not. Whilst the ceremony took place wreaths were placed whilst we all stood in groups with our flags showing our country.
Neutralized again after putting back on our helmets we stopped after stopped again then the racing started fast. Throughout the stage I made 4 big attacks, the final one succeeding on the climb where 15 of us slipped away, that’s pretty much all that happened on the stage, where the racing was super negative as that group stayed away for about 5 minutes…I looked back and the bunch was just a massive long line, nothing went that day and if it did not for so long. I tried to split it in the crosswinds but it wasn’t a long enough section and only lined the bunch out completely in 2 minutes…I rolled in that day staying out the way of an extremely dangerous bunch sprint where all I remember seeing was someone with a completely bent front wheel just about riding on it. The final day (day 2) was all to play for with the first 150 on the same time.
After getting up pretty early we headed out on the TT bikes for stage 2a, a 15 minute ride from our hostel. Once at the TT I set up the turbo with the bike on a turbo wheel. We were to wear a (for me, very baggy) skin top typed jersey, I asked John if he could ask the commissare if we could just wear our own skin suits, just for the TT instead of South East kit. After asking we were allowed, Jacob V pinned my number for me (to high quality thanks Jacob!) and I put on Velotoze (overshoes) and got my gels ready for 15 mins before the TT. After a thorough warm up I switched the wheel over on the bike put on the helmet and tested the gears etc for one final check, all was good and I proceeded to the gear check followed by UCI regs check on the bike to make sure the bike was not illegal (5cm or further back from the bottom bracket line and no further than 80cm from the bottom bracket line to the end of the bars. All was good and I now had 5 minutes to wait until I started. A final few sips of the drink and I got onto the start ramp. Before I knew it I was gone. I paced it well if I’m honest, not starting too hard as it was a crosswind for the first 700m followed by a cross tailwind until halfway then onto a cross headwind and then headwind for the final 800m. The TT was too short for me after I completed it in 7 minutes and 27 seconds, 13 seconds off the European TT champ, so I was pleased with that ride considering it suits a punchier rider, I prefer anything over 15 minutes up to 40 minutes…but still, that was the course! Considering it was super windy and open with some technical turns and lanes I still averaged just over 30mph, which wasn’t bad.
Below, Finishing the TT, In the small village of Wulpen.
Stage 2b-The final stage was a Kermesse kind of stage, with many corners, 160 90* turns I worked out over the 62 mile race. There was one 35-40 second nasty kick at 6%, It was short but it really hurt each time around. So, after eating some spaghetti for lunch we got ready for the race in what was fairly hot conditions which started at 18 degrees and sunny, which slowly dropped down to 12.5 degrees and heavy rain. People were commenting saying I must be boiling at the start, which I was, wearing a vest, skin-suit then a jersey, but once the rain had started of course I was ok and not so hot anymore. The sketchy conditions meant there was a group of 7 up the road, a further 4 went to try to get across and shortly after myself and one other went away too, I sat in the gutter and rode hard to get a gap when myself and the other lad kept driving hard, another guy came across to us, sat on then attacked us stupidly as we were going at a good pace not so hard that we’d blow, but we could see we were progressing with the bunch nowhere in sight. 5 Miles later we picked up the guy that went solo then we all pulled together more and after 20 minutes of bridging we got across to the 4 man group, which then joined the other 7. There were now 14 of us and we continued working. After being in the group for 30 minutes knew the pace was good although too slow in the corners, but still I carried on working for the GC and we had good time on the bunch. I was unsure where I was in the group on the GC as well if I’m honest. Robin Blummel attacked with 1.5 laps to go, of which he stayed out there to win over our group by 18 seconds. I came in with 11 others, as the other 2 had gone out the back slightly. I knew I couldn’t win the sprint from those guys either, so I kept working for the GC, and knowing it could be my first big UCI result I sadly didn’t risk going off the front from the group either as I didn’t want to be counter attacked, but still feel the choice I made was the right one.
Overall in the race I managed 6th on GC, which in a UCI 2.1 in Belgium on the flat, I was very pleased!
A very nice end to my road season and end to being a Junior on the road. Next year I’ll become a senior so I’m currently looking/deciding on what team to join for 2017.
Thanks to all of my sponsors as usual, please check out my sponsors page if you haven’t already.