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I See Yellow - Avery Wins Tour of Vlaams Brabant
8 Aug, 2009 - Clinton Avery

Well well well, I really don't know how to tell you all without sounding like im bragging… But I just won the Tour of Vlaams Brabant. It's a 5 day tour with 5 stages in the Vlaams Brabant province of Belgium. It was a relatively easy tour but at the same time being really hard. I know to all of you that didn't make sense, but what I mean is the tour wasn't hard enough for any real time gaps and therefore was really hard to defend you position or attack someone else's. For example at the beginning of the last stage the top 5 riders in the General Classification were inside 20 seconds so if the cards weren't played right it was still anyone's tour.

In the Beginning of the tour it was looking like I would be riding for my team mate Jens Debusschere when he took the yellow jersey after the first stage winning a group sprint of 20 or so riders. The group slipped away from the peloton amongst the chaos of chasing down the breakaway and at the finish had a 47 second buffer over the rest of the peloton.
The day began with the plan for Jens to win the bunch kick if there was one but I was to go with the early break and not work. I was to save my legs to attack the break away in the last 20km of 144km stage. With 18km to go I was away with one other rider but we were soon swallowed up by the chasing group of 20 with 6km to go. For me then was just a matter of hanging on and trying to finish on the same time as the winner. I was just lucky Jens was in that group to challenge the sprint. The whole plan worked out which ever way it went.

Day 2 was looking to be an easy day for the team in the 156km second stage when a large group slipped away after 30km. fortunately for us Jens was in that group so it meant other teams had to chase and not us. Not long after the break went up the road I could see a lone rider with his hand up, in a yellow shirt with red shorts. I was hoping it wasn't Jens but it was and he had a puncture. For me and the rest of the team it meant we now had to begin the real chase. The were guys in the front group that were in the front 20 yesterday so it had to come back. The whole day on the front took its toll and we caught the majority of the group but the second place getter from the tour last year and part of yesterday's top 20 had ridden away from the break and won the stage with 26 seconds taking Jens easily out of yellow.

Day 3 was to prove the tour wasn't over with an 11km time trial. All the guys from the team rode exceptional with 4 out of 6 inside the top 10. Jens blew us all away winning the tt 26 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey bringing it down to split seconds whether he got the jersey back or not. He did! For 15 mins! The team director from the yellow jersey at the beginning of the day (Sep Vanmeke) put in a complaint that the times from the day before weren't proper and a 1 second advantage was given to Sep putting Jens second on GC by 1 second. It was fair to say there were some angry people amongst our team! For me I was 6th in the time trial putting me 5th in General Classification at 14 seconds. Believe it or not although people were angry over this situation it presented us a perfect attacking opportunity for the next Day/stage.

Stage 4. The plan was………..158km later it couldn't have played out more perfect!
No just kidding. The plan was Jens to go with all the early attacks he had the legs for forcing Sep to chase him, then later in there race I was to attack, again forcing Sep to chase. If he wanted to keep the yellow! Anyway Jens went with attack after attack after attack and when it was my turn Sep didn't chase. Whether he had forgotten about me or was too tired to chase I don't know but the guys all said his team wasn't helping him. I was with a group of 15 and we stayed away to the finish with 35 seconds putting me in the yellow jersey. Unfortunately though there were 2 guys in the break with me that were 1 second behind me on GC and 7 seconds. Which didn't give me much of a time gap going into the last stage? But the important thing was I had and the Team had the yellow jersey back.

Going into the last stage with 2nd on GC at 1 second, 3rd at 7 seconds, and 4th at 14 seconds it was looking like it was going to be a tough day for me and my team. 5th on GC was Jens so we didn't have to worry about him. We knew we had to let a break go because that is the only way to take control of the race. So after 40km a break was let go. With no radios we can't be told who is there or get regular time gaps so it was a dangerous move, but one that had to be done. It became especially dangerous when later we find out that with the time gap the break had there was a new leader on the road. It had to be brought back. The guys hit the front of the peloton and wound up the pace. We brought the break back to 15 seconds with 45km to go but that was too early to catch it so we let it go out to 35 seconds again. 25km to go the boys wound the pace back up again bringing the break back with 15km to go. We did this because with 3 guys who can still win the tour it meant I only had to deal with their attacks for 15 km. And im telling you now 150km stage, 4 previous days racing in the legs and trying to handle attacks from 3 different people with all different agenda's, that 15km seemed like the longest of my life. In the end it came to a bunch sprint and I managed a respectable 6th for the final stage. And WON!!!!!!!!!!

In the end the team's results were…. I won the tour, the U23 classification and 3rd in point's classification. Jens won 2 stages, and second in the points Classification and the team won the overall teams Classification. If you ask me it was a very successful tour!

That's all from me
Clinton

 

Click to enlarge...
Avery proud in yellow

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