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In A World Of Pain
26 Apr, 2005

Well a lot of you are probably wondering what planet Iíve disappeared too,
and whatís been going on, well here you have it straight from the wounded
horseís mouth!

After Milan San Remo I headed back home with a lot of confidence, and fully
ready to start the classic season.  I had Dwoors door Vlandaaren first up,
followed by E3 Prijs, and then 3 days of de panne (which I can officially say
that I hate!)  These first 2 races are mini tour of Flanders racing over all
the same climbs and cobbled sections that Flanders goes over.  They are
really important to test the form, but for me they were extra important as I
had to prove I was going good enough so that I could make the team for the
big week from Flanders to paris-roubaix.

In the first 2 races I was strong, really strong. I even had a protected
roll in the team to be there at the end....  It was only lack of experience
that kept me from being in the front group, I was strong enough but to be
there at the end you have to know every road, every climb, every run in to
the climbs like the back of your hand... Iím getting there believe me,
frustration makes you learn pretty bloody quick!  After this race I got he
nod from the director that I had made the team for the Flanders, Roubaix week.  
This was huge for me, and I was real happy knowing that I had achieved a
small goal I set a while ago when things looked like I wouldnít make the
team.

From here I went to the 3 Days of De Panne. We were only using it as
training... Well most of us.  One of our guys went up the road on the first
day and finished 2nd......and he stayed there till the last day meaning that
we didnít have to ride the front (everyone thanked him!). We had to keep him
out of trouble though which was sweet.  Then he smashed the dude leading in
the TT and won the race, nice!  This race though is where my classics season
came crashing down.  After the 2nd day, a long 230km in the rain I had
trouble with my cyst, it pretty much just blew up.  So the team decided not
to risk it and I went home missing the last day.  It only got worse, and I
knew it was not good. I went to a specialist and he said it had to come
out. I went home and my team doc and I went over everything... Then I
decided that it was for the best. (I didnít realise the pain just around the
corner though....... @#$%!!!!)

It meant that I missed the big week.  It was hard I tell you..... Everything
was against me to make that team and I made it through hard work and
training.  I had hardly raced this season cause of my sickness at start of
year but I still managed to be trucking when it counted.  But this has made
me realise that these races are made for me. With my size, my mentality, my
love for the cobbles.  The team fully believe this too, and with their
support I reckon that I can do some good things in these races in the years
to come.  And Iím still only 24.

Anyway off I went to the hospital, with my girlfriend Serena in tow.  It was
only a 30min operation but it felt like I was in hospital for years, and
with all my whinging anyone would have though I got a leg cut off!  The hole
shocked everyone though.  It would be the size of a 50c piece and it was
deep too...nice I know, but you imagine getting all the dried up gauzes
pulled out the morning after the op.  Let me say this, that poor nurse
copped it ha-ha.  It was the most painful thing ever.  Never again.

Where too now?  Well, I have had to date, 3 weeks off the bike.  Today I rode
30mins on the erg. It was painful, but I could bare it.  I had to change
saddles, got a Fizik on now and man does it feel like a sofa.  I will slowly
get back into it over the next week, then I am hoping to have 2 weeks solid
training prior to my first race which will be Tour of Catalunya on the 16th.
Man that race is going to hurt.  Firstly itís in Spain, and down there they
ride too fast. Also, itís over mountains.  But all I want to do is get
through it and get on with my program... After that I go to America for
Philly week which I was going to have a good crack at but now who knows....
Then I have Tour de Suisse.  So all is not lost and the season is long.  At
the moment I am going to be riding the Tour of Spain, which is wicked, and then I
want to ride the Worlds.

Until then, hope all is well.  Donít get a cyst now will you, ha.

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