It was the second day of the Tour of East Flanders, I woke up with pretty good legs, but I was nervous about the stage. I was the best placed rider on the Eastern Regions Team, I also had a chance at getting on the podium for the Young rider (1st year) White Jersey competition. I was currently 16th overall and 4th in the white jersey, 1 min down on the next 3, something I hoped to overturn on the hills of todays stage.
We arrived at the start early and made a trip to the local spar, in retrospect I had become very dehydrated the day before and learning on my mistakes I bought 6 litres of water for the rest of the day. At the checkout, looking through one of the papers for some Tour results, In the middle of the sports section I came across a whole page on Ametuer cycling in the region, with Miel's winning picture from the previous day spread across the whole page, things like this I love about Belgium.
The start of the race came quickly, I had been drinking constantly all morning and was feeling much better and cooler on the start line than the previous day. On a quick recon of the first couple of km of the course, I noticed a little sign (I wish I had had my phone for a picture) stating that we where currently riding on the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour Of Flanders Pro Race).
After a really good start and unlike the previous day, not getting held up by any crashes I was well placed in the first group on the road. The course included a km long climb and 500m of cobbled decent, around halfway through the 72km race there was a crash just infront of me halfway up the climb, one of the riders was sprawled with his bike across the whole road, I was one of the last few to get through cleanly, although still had to push very hard to get back onto the bunch. Some teams went to the front of out reduced 20 man front group (133 starters) and started to drive the pace, although some teams where reluctant to help push it away. A lap later the rest of the group joined back on and there was a jostle for the front places, as it was coming down to crunchtime.
With a lap to go I knew if anything was going to get away it would be on he climb, it summited around 3km from the line. I tried to get myself in the best placing I could coming into the climb, the bunch quickly lined out. I was about 12th wheel and could see gaps opening ahead of me, I tried to close the gap but 5 riders had gone of the front and know one wanted to take up the chase from the bunch. I placed myself well in the sprint but got very blocked in on the outside, I felt i could have won the Bunch sprint for 6th but eventually came in 12th.
Overall I had moved up to 11th overall and 2nd in the White Jersey. With the first days result, overall result and white jersey result I had got a nice pot of prize money. Unfortunately the organisers sent it via bank transfer to Team Managers but Im still planning on getting my hands on the hard earned cash!