Firstly I would like to apologise to anyone who has read the blog in the last two weeks for my lack of updates! I have been really busy trying to cram revision and training in around my racing schedule, whilst having a little down time too so there hasnt been all that much time available for blogging!
The final friday started pretty leisurely, meeting the rest of the team at ten oclock on the M25. I had a good laugh texting the northern lads who had already been in the car for three hours at the time I got out of bed! We where slightly held up by traffic at the euro tunnel, but where soon in the hotel in far east flanders. After a short forty minute spin to get the legs going, with a classic flemish rain shower, we sat down for a huge Spag Bowl, the best hotels for cyclists have comfortable beds, a good telly (with english channels) and lots and lots of food!
Saturdays race was the Wim Hendricks Trophee, a race the British have always done well in, winning it †wice in the last three years, so no pressure! With 70km to cover including some narrow cobbled sections, it was going to be a good race. We rode well as a team, a really new experience for me and everyone else, and covered pretty much every break going. I had a dig early on, going into the first cobbled section, but with about 60km to go and only one man with me we where soon caught up by a fragmented Peloton. The race covered around 30km before 3 rounds of a 13km course, there where two cobbled sectors on the final circuit, very close together and pretty narrow, first time through and we lost our second rider on the team, Chris had punctured very early and spent the rest of the day chasing, and Robbie got taken out by another rider round a gravely corner. The crash split the main group, with about fifteen going slightly off the front, four of us from the team got the second group going and we brought it back together after a couple of kms. Shortly after Jake got taken out by another rider, he came down really hard and I thought it was the last I had seen of him that day. However being the Barbarian he is, he was soon back at the front of the Peloton!
With one lap to go, 13kms, I attacked up the right hand side of the road, I looked back after a few seconds and there was no reaction in the peloton behind so put the gas on. After about 2kms four riders came across, the bunch was chasing hard but we put the gas on fully and people soon started sitting up behind, not wanting to commit with so little of the race left to go. Unfortunately a mixture of lack of confidence and a strong headwind finish meant we where soon coming into a five man sprint, I placed fourth, disappointed not too have won but pleased that I had made the break. It was a learning curve and next time I defiantly wont end a race in the same position.
Sunday was a Kermesse in Roeselare, Dad and Bede had come over to watch the next too days racing and I was really up for a good result. Roeselare is a pretty big town so we where mostly racing in built up areas, with not much wind but some bad very wet weather and tight corners the race was sure to split up. After about 4km we turned slightly left, as we turned my front wheel punctured and the bike slid out from under me in the wet. As my team mates came past me they shouted to get back on thinking I had crashed, but with no neutral service in Kermesse racing, it was a slow uncomfortable ride back to the start/finish. Unfortunately Chris punctured again and so did Jake Scott, however Ollie made the break to finish third, a really good result on his first weekend out racing in Europe.
I was pretty gutted after puncturing so early, but Monday was a new day and with some nice hot weather I was in the perfect frame of mind for a good result, very eager for my dad too see some good racing. We where racing in a small town called Krombeke, only a couple of kms from Woesten in West Flanders, where I placed second in a Kermesse at the end of last season. Chris after his two punctures went up the road hard very early on, he drew out a huge gap on his own and we soon started trying to get more riders up the road. After lots and lots of attacking Jake Ragan and I finally managed to snap the bunch behind within moments of eachother. We bridged across to Chris solo, coming up at the same time, and soon pressing on the gas. We had a massive gap but where all really nervous and eager to keep on the gas as much as possible. We where possibly too eager and in the very strong wind, coming out of the corners like a short british criterium wasnt doing the legs any good. There was soon only two of us and with about 10km to go Chris told me his legs wernt feeling great, no suprise after the time he had spent on his own up the road earlier. I was feeling really good, pushing the gas on and trying to keep the momentum into the wind. It was a great day in the sun, with Jake finishing a really strong third with Ollie smashing the bunch sprint for fourth. The commissaries where straight on the case, checking all our gears but we had nothing to hide, it was a great day for the team, taking some good prize money and I was super chuffed. I cant wait to race with the boys out there again.