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European Season Openers
25 Feb, 2004

Since I last wrote I have taken hidings from all angles, well at least that is what it has felt like!  I came out of Marseilles feeling good, and thinking that I actually had some wrong was I!  Or maybe its just that everyone else is going fast but it still aint worked it out.

Tour of the Mediterranean

We raced the whole week in sunshine which made things very nice.  I started off feeling rat shit but as the tour went on I started to find my legs (well sort of). We had the presence of our world champion, Igor Astarloa, so all the focus was on our team. What a legend of a guy he is. First race of the year and he takes the leaders jersey on the 2nd day, which means for us alot of riding on the front. Doing this isnt that bad as at least this way you know exactly what you have to do for the day. We kept the jersey up until the 2nd to last day, but we ended up losing the jersey on the last day, which we expected as it was a 30km ttt, and it finished on the feared 6km climb of Mt Faron. I swung off at the bottom of the climb and said ciao boys....haha.  you had to finish if you wanted a gc place. Like it really mattered if I finished 65th!!!!

Trophee Laguigella

Looked at the profile the night before the race and thought to myself if I
make it 50kms, then Id shout the whole peloton as much as they could drink! All it did was go up down up down. Thank god they took it easy (still hurt) for the first hour This gave me time to find some legs. Things were pretty solid for the whole race. Attacks from every angle but nothing really stuck. The crunch came on the last climb of the day. By this time I was ready to go and felt strong. I just managed to make the front group over this climb. At the bottom with 20km to go there was about 30 riders in the front group - perfect for me but then with 10km to go the peleton of about 70 riders caught us so a nice bunch sprint was in order........mmmm. I had a nudge and was on the right with a good line then they switched right and it was over. Never mind, Im happy with the form.

Tour de Haut Var

I was in the abandons bus after 60kms, so say no more!  rain and slippery descents are not for me! This was a real laugh though as the driver was crook after a night out and was spewing out the window so Jo Planckaert took over the driving, abusing all the riders that were dropped... Made the day a bit more enjoyable for the packed bus of cold wet demoralised riders!

Classic Haribo

We started this 5hr race in the dry, but not long after the rain started pouring down. It.was so bloody cold it was not funny. I learnt a lesson from yesterday and that was to rug up. I kept all my rain jackets with me until the finish. Julz was here today, so it was good to catch up with him and winge about the weather! The race started with 200 riders and was pretty hard right from the gun, so it took its toll on the bunch. I went through good and bad patches today, and arrived at the last climb with some good legs so decided that I was going to have a go in the sprint. We came under the 10km to go barrier and the pace was full tit. No more than 3km later we saw the 1km to go.(thanks organisers) sign so panicking was the order of the peloton, with guys taking lots of risks. The roads were still wet, and I knew there was going to be a crash. Coming into the last corner I backed off a bit, sure enough - bang. A group of riders went down. I took my chance and had a crack finishing 6th, which is my first result (sort of) for the year, which I was very happy with.

Next up for me is Het Volk, and the day after I ride Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.
Today I rode the parcours for Het Volk with the Chocolate Jacques team. We encountered rain, snow and sunshine. Man alive, to finish this race you deserve a medal, to win it you deserve to retire. It is going to be very difficult. The cobbles are worse than you have ever heard they are, believe me!


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