Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The race is done. Almost 200 started, about 40-50 finished. We got 5th and another top 15. But we had to earn it. Proud to say I lasted longer than a long portion of the field, and could have made it much further I feel (I had some pretty good legs) if not having my duty called on. Basically the story goes like this, flats. And lots of them. We had 3 leaders on the road with the rest of us riding as needed. Poor Bruno, one of our leaders on the road, flatted 3 times. This is where I come in. But I guess I'll start a little closer to the start of the day...
Wicked sketch neutral start through these narrow streets in town with tons of corners. Plus the fact that there was 200 guys all fighting for front real estate, which was quite limited. Luckily I used my new Belgian riding skills with some prowess by hopping sidewalks, squeezing gaps, riding on bike paths and generally playing spectator slalom. Wicked. Finally the real race got underway and I worked hard to maintain a position close to the front, basically keeping myself in sight of one of the Belgian riders from the team at all times. Took some risks a few times, lots of concrete traffic furniture around and plenty of bike paths to exploit! Felt mostly comfortable, in that weird going hard and fast racing kind of way, and had decent position when we hit the first cobbled sections. Luckily these cobbled sections had bike paths along each side, unfortunately the whole pack saw them too so we squeezed the entire pack onto bike paths. Oh well. This is where stuff started hitting the fan, about 1 hour in. The flats started. Me and Santiago were designated as transport personnel, basically falling back to the back of the back when an incident would happen and then tow the dude back up to the front. Nice. Now the problem arises when an important rider flats at a bad time, like say when we are 10km out from the Kemmelberg. Poor Bruno. But he made it back to the pack, where I was sitting on the back waiting. Now it is not crazy hard to just sit on, you are breathing hard and hurting, but that hurt is nothing compared to sticking yourself out in the wind, dropping it into your 11t cog and haulin butt up a single file death line to the front. Luckily to prove why I was suffering so hard, Bernard came on the radio to announce that Beveren 200 (Quick Step's development team) had set up their train on the front to drill it to both set up their leaders and finish off a break. Nice. Apparently it is hard to hold this pace in line, but incredible hard to try and move faster in the wind then a train of pros. Lesson learned. Probably should have pulled Bruno into the shelter of the death line sooner and waited until stuff calmed down a bit. But I decided to try and simply get him up to Santiago, who I could see up the line. Got about half way before I detonated. Nothing in the tank, into the caravan, tried to jump on a bumper but was completely cooked. Job done. Day not done. Rode into the feed zone just before the Kemmel, changed into some warmer clothes, fresh bottles and set off to make it back to the finish along the course. In the end, long day, good day. Learned a lot, especially about bringing riders up and moving around. For now, time to relax. Do a nice morning ride I think then the afternoon perhaps in Brugges with some of the boys who are leaving soon. We'll see. Gotta use my final bus trip from my pass. Ciao

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