On Friday morning last week myself, Marcus.B and his family made our way to Axel not far North of Belgium, to date this is the biggest 3 day I have done so far this year and consisted of a 64 mile road race on the Friday evening at 5 pm, a 6.8 mile TT for me at 10:59am followed by another 64 mile road race at 5 pm on the Saturday and finally on the Sunday a road race of 58.5 miles in Belgium south of Ghent and had some Bergs maximum of 1 min 30 climbing.
Stage one- Everyone tried the same thing…to be at the front, starting off at the front myself it was only 1km after the neutralised where it was just over 30mph and there was a crash to my left with people going over there bars towards myself on the right of the road, the guy ahead of me landed in the water logged ditch as I just avoided it and got back on the road where the chase was fairly short and easy, there were a total of 15 very bad crashes over the course of the stage all around the middle and sometimes towards the front, this meant most of us riders had to chase throughout the stage and I had to make 3 efforts to get back on, although feeling very good didnt have to put it in the top gear just to get back, I kept relaxed and analyzed situations on how hard people were chasing etc. Towards the finish around 5km to go there was another very bad crash down the lane leaving one of my team mates for the weekend (Pete.K) Very badly hurt mainly on his elbow, which leads onto another problem tomorrow with the TT pad being where the injury – even though today he did make a very good effort to finish considering. After that crash I was left too far back and ended up 15 riders from the back in 92nd but still bunch time therefore position didn’t matter.
Stage 2 the TT- A pan flat time trial with 8 90 Degree corners and only one fast one the 6.8 Mile course was very tough going mostly down lanes slightly graveled and some pretty strong wind saw us with a very strong headwind! Sadly the day before was very packed and we already got up early enough to have breakfast therefore I didn’t get a chance to see the TT course, and with a change from last year the videos I’d watched on it were pointless, so I had to go off guidance from team mates and others who had ridden already. I was safe to say pretty stressed out with the measurements of the bike, although I’d now become OCD and checked it about 10 times, To make matters worse I made sure I went straight for the pre check as soon as i got there and I became the first rider to be turned down as they now closed it even though I had got straight to it before any riders were due to start by 10 minutes..many other riders learnt the hard way also. Any how, I got in a good progressive warm up and having a motorbike in front of me for the whole thing was also a bonus, the bike was fully UCI legal and I relaxed with 5 mins to go until my TT. I was called up to the starting ramp and before I new it I was away. I paced it to power and rode harder into the headwind. The corners were slow as the roads were so thin also. 7 minutes into my TT now and I had just passed my minute man. 9 minutes in and the power I was riding at started to get very hard and the pain was getting fairly deep! at 12 minutes in now and I was approaching the 2nd to last corner, shockingly I saw it to be 120 degrees so I locked up my back brake and narrowly avoided the grass, going 10 mph slower than I could have been I found annoying but passed that in my mind and accelerated back over 30 mph pretty shortly, the pain now was immense and couldn’t hold it much longer, the final turn came up and only 40 seconds now to the line, I gave it everything I had left and could barely go above my 20 min power even though I was sprinting. Once I crossed the line they called my name and I had matched the winners time out of 100 current starters, Knowing I’d paced it to perfection and done all I could considering the circumstances I was pleased. After some more quick people came through I ended up 14th, which in a TT that doesn’t suit a 57kg rider I know my form is currently good and ended up averaging 29.4mph on a tough course for 13 min 35.
Stage 3- An extremely hot stage and pretty basic really, only one or two crashes today meant the rest of the day the bunch were glued together. There isnt much to say about this stage, although I knew the next day was even tougher with a few bergs. Stage 3 had some 2km cobbled sections and then some 400m sections similar to stage one, which made it very fun and feel fast! In the sprint I of course wasnt to bothered about contesting, although thinking to my next tour i’d like to see where I come as it looks better with some higher up results in the sprints. this stage I came 72nd.
Stage 4- A very wet day meaning the odd slip here and there, from the yellow jersey who was 5 riders ahead of me on the decent when there was a crash! There were 3 bergs per lap, some kicked up to 12% or so and one of them was more of a 5% average fast big ring climb. 3 laps meant 9 times up the nasty little kicks followed by a 2.4km cobbled up to the final corner 100m from the finish line. I knew today I had to stay at the front at the slippery concrete on the descents and the short kicks would split the field. I moved straight to the front and held that all the way on the first lap, until the cobbled section where I got stuck in the gutter, me and 10 others ended up chasing back on and then the group only had 40 riders left in it, there were a few other groups behind that were all very split up and small. Lap 2 we all stayed together again but then 65% into the final lap a group of 4 had 50 seconds on us, the group then split a lot and at this point the ‘bunches’ totaled 35 riders, not being the most powerful rider, on the cobbles I struggled to beat the other riders and ended up getting 27th on the stage, only 48 riders finished and considering 206 started on the first day shows the racing was top level tough stuff!
1, 92nd (bunch)
3, 72nd, (bunch)
4, 27th (small group)
Next time I race UCI’s I for sure will have confidence on my own ability, if I can get a proper hilly one no doubt it’ll be one for me! But now I hope for a Podium at a UCI and keep stepping up and up, Confidence can get you results, and considering I had not ridden a UCI until late March this year, I feel like I’m still improving, Figures/strength wise too!
Thanks ever so much to Kenny Wilson my coach from Epic cycle coaching, I’m constantly seeing improvements and something very good has to come soon.
Thanks to The Burnetts for taking me over and putting up with me for 4 days and making the travel easy, also helping prepare for the races!
Also other thanks to Andrew Paine, Gavin Roberts, and Phil Kibble for helping out with loads of stuff over the weekend that I could write for ages about, without all of the above the weekend wouldn’t have been as great and easy as it was, much appreciated!
Thanks also to-
Stealth secret training