Sunday saw a trip with the legend that is Mr John Barclay to Moerkeke, Belgium. We were riding an Interclub, one of the national level races in Belgium and it would be my first full length race of the year at 120km. With 200 starters and a spatter of dutch and belgian teams along with us troublesome brits, it was looking like a good, slightly cold day out.
What faced us, on a textbook bleak Belgian Sunday, was two laps of a thirty seven kilometer circuit, followed on by seven 'ronde' of a seven kilometer circuit. The race started at a reasonable pace, however with most of the action on narrow roads, it was more a fight to be at the front than off it. Once some cobbled sectors, a splattering of rain and a good amount of street furniture had been thrown into the mix, the all to familiar sound of crunching carbon and shouts of a crash could also be heard over the increasingly blustery wind.
By fifty kilometers in a war of attrition had ensued, with the cobbles and wind steadily witiling down the bunch. There was also plenty of good old fashioned Belgian gutter action to be enjoyed, with the bunch echeloning out in the wind almost constantly - its always a fun feeling to look back and see almost 150 riders in one long line behind. I even took a moment to enjoy being back in the mêlée
of it all, just as a rider swung aggressively across the road and almost took out my front wheel, for the millionth time I might add! All part of the fun.
With around thirty kilometers to go a group of ten riders had jumped away from the ever thinning bunch, I knew this could be the crunch and made a solo effort across the cobbles to get in with the action. Unfortunately after ten or so kilometers of riding in the move we were joined by another fifteen or so riders. With four from one team the race was starting to look pretty tricky.
I covered what I could but in the end fell short a little tactically and had to settle for a pretty disappointing eleventh. A rider up the road from the dominating team enjoyed some great teamwork from his guys in our group to control it and that was, unfortunately, that. The legs were there but possibly not the scenario for the win on this occasion, although I am a firm believer that if you do the right thing you will be able to change any scenrio for your advantage!
All the same I loved being back in the Belgian wind and clattering along the cobbles. Onwards and upwards...
A huge thanks goes out to John and Dave for driving us out there and giving me the opportunity to get some early season racing under my belt!
Next weekend see's a trip to Herefordshire to attempt to defend the Cadence RR, the first National series that I won at the beginning of last year.