Road Euros

Its hard to write about races when they don't go to plan, which makes the European road champs pretty difficult to blog about!

The sun was shining and the Dutch had provided a pretty interesting course with a long stretch along the sea and some very narrow and twisty roads. The field, the biggest international level bunch of the season so far, was one hundred and sixty strong. With little wind on the day of the race, the odds where on for a big bunch sprint and Team GB where more than ready.

Sam Lowe and I hovered around the top fifteen of the bunch, trying to stay out of trouble and sniff out any dangerous moves. Whilst it was relatively easy for moves to slip of the front on the narrow lanes, the long straight along the sea combined with the accompanying tail wind, ensured the bunch swallowed up all the early moves.

With about two of the twenty two kilometer laps under our belts I found myself of the front with an Italian rider on said section, bridging across to a small three man move. I tried to do as little work as possible, wary of the kilometers we still had to cover, whilst also eager to make a move that could save the legs of my teammates behind. This small amount of effort came to nothing and with each and every break struggling to stay away on the faster sections of the course, it was looking increasingly likely to be a bunch sprint.

With three of the six laps to go, the peloton had started to get very nervy, with a few big crashes splintering the bunch on a few of the wider roads. A fast section initially calmed affairs, however we soon turned into a narrow lane, with the resulting minimal reduction in speed causing a dramatic bunching up of the still hundred or more strong group. Before I knew it three riders where lay on the tarmac infront of me, I had no time to react and slammed into the riders, careering over my handlebars and into the ditch alongside the road. I opened my eyes and lifted my bike from ontop of me, scrambling up the grass verge as I tried to asses my body. I had slammed my knee’s into the top tube of my bike as I fell, however alongside two bent shifters I had come of relatively unscathed, mainly thanks to the grass! The advantage of crashing in the front twenty of the bunch meant that there where plenty of riders chasing onto the bunch by the time I had got up and got my chain on. After a six km full gas chase, with the bunch pretty lined out infront, I resumed my place in the front half of the bunch.
As I pulled up alongside Sam I looked down at the handlebars for the first time since my frantic adrenaline fuelled chase, the Garmin mount was empty! It seemed the ditch had claimed more than I had first realised, my beloved Garmin 800 that was kindly supplied by Condor Cycles.

The race progressed in much of the same manor, lots of crashes and fighting for positions. With just over a lap to go a crash claimed Sam and Germain, I narrowly avoided it, however with the whole team having now hit the deck, I knew I was the only Brit left in the bunch.

Barely a few kilometers later it was my turn again, the Frenchman right infornt of me deciding to throw himself on the floor. The bike was game over, with the rear mech hanger so bent the chain could not sit on the cassette to even try and limp around the last twenty kilometers. I was pretty devastated, in the knowledge I had good legs to try do something on that last lap and that Sam would most definitely have been up there in the sprint that crowned the new champion, it was a day almost entirely lost. The process of the race was there, however the end result didn't quiet materialise, some days are just out of your hands…

Only picture I have of the race (ish) so far - thanks to my Grandmother for this one!