Kunne Brussels Kunne
Well this is the first report of the european season... its been a cold start thats for sure with snow, rain, hail all playing havoc in the seasons early races. I've had a bad run to tell you the truth, I got really sick in Malaysia and had to come home after the first day, then when I got home I got hit with the flu which laid me low for about a week. I got over it alright though and got stuck into some serious catch up training..... dont think I've ever ridden the erg so much, and by the end of that block i wanted to chuck it off the balcony!I was lucky to be given a start in kuurne brussel kuurne with the way our team went the day before.. they were the strongest in the race by far, but Dirk really wanted to let me have a go. i didn't disappoint, although i was pretty nervous as really it was only my first race of the year. The race was unreal.... it was the coldest I've ever been. We had 2 snow storms, really the race was lucky it was not canned. At the team meeting i was told
to try for the first breaks, and to help the team..... well i did
that, i made the first split of about 30 guys. I thought the race was over, and if lotto had of had Van Petergem in there then it would have been and only after 20kms.
I followed as many attacks as i could. i made alot of small breaks but nothing stuck.... until about the 80km mark when a break finally went.... but i missed it! but we had a team mate in there so all was under control. it was a real weird race. i actually thought the race was over until we hit the kruisberg. I positioned myself near the front up it, just in case.... sure enough booned and one other lit it up, and this is where the split was made.
We came to the oude kwaremont, which is probably the most well known section in Europe. Its a nasty 2.5kms of cobbles. Its not really steep, but man it hurts!... hurts even more when for the few kms before it your fighting for position trying to keep George Hincapie out of the wind! But we hit it in first position, which is something I've never ever done before. Wont tell you which position i came off it in, but i was still in the front group, more importantly we had 4 in it.The last of the break was finally caught on the finishing circuits. This part was full on attacking. A front group on about 25-30 riders were still in the hunt. i couldnt really attack, firstly cause I ran out of kms, also cause we had George and Stijn in the front group who were both in good condition. I did alot of chasing right up till the last 5km where George hit them with a nicely timed attack... he went away with one other, the rest of the fatigued group could do nothing but watch him go.... awesome to watch, he just followed all day till the right time then bang, attacked....George won the race, which was wicked..... i finished 7th after escaping in the last few k... believe me though today hurt, i was chewing on the stem at the end! the team was really happy with my race, and i was also... its given me alot more confidence for the future thats for sure... and with a team like weve got things can only get better. next up for me is 3 days west flanders, followed by milan san remo.... ill be writing more often after that...cheers,
Milan - San Remo
Well next on the agenda was meant to be 3 days of west flanders.... leading up to this though the weather had been terrible, all over Europe. Snow everywhere. So it was a few more boring days on the erg, but i felt ok, and by the time the first stage started the roads were all clear and I was ready to race. But then someone decided that 80kms was enough for the day and dumped a huge load of snow off. So stage 1 cancelled. Gutted. They waited till the next day to call it off totally though. They still had LITTLE bit of hope that it wasnt going to snow again, but this is Belg, and it did do just that. What were they thinking, of course it was gonna snow again!!! so off i went back home.....it was then i decided i had to get out of belg for a while. the weather was up and down so much and i wasnt going to be guaranteed good weather or atleast trainable weather for training. So i decided to head down to Limoux in the South of France where the NZ team has a house. I'm real happy i went there as the training was unreal, so was the weather. Heath (Blackgrove) and i banged in some really good kms and i finished there feeling really good. From there i headed to Milan San Remo. Now this is the first world cup of the year, its 300kms long, just over 7hrs in the saddle and a bunch of nervous riders and dangerous italian roads. This is pretty much how the race went. We rode 1hr with alot of attacks and some pretty fast riding. Then it was 2hrs riding at 30-40km/hr, then we hit a climb mid race, then we arrived on the coast for the last 120kms..... now it was here that was the fast part. From the second we arrived on the coast we just went faster and faster. You wouldn't comprehend how fast the bunch was going......it was sick. The morning of the race, george woke up not feeling the best and the team decided it was best for him not to start. So for us we were down to 7, so already on the back foot. A real bummer as he is going well at the moment, but best now than in 2 weeks.... so for the rest of us it was difficult. no sprinters in a sprinters race. i did my best to stay at the front, and out of trouble the last 70kms, but this was hard. I sat like top 10 for a long long time along the coast and after 260kms it started to take its toll. although still feeling good, well i thought i did, i was slowly heading down hill.There are 2 small climbs, followed by the famous cipressia and the poggio in the finale. These 2 climbs are the talk of the peleton in the early part of the season if your prepping for this race. But let me tell you this. Those 2 small climbs are not small! And the 2 famous climbs are ridden very very fast and seem to go on for ever....and they reckon this year, the year i debut in it they ride up them the cipressia the fastest ever! nice....NOT!
Prior to all these climbs you have to fight for position, more so the last 2.. i did all this, i actually arrived at the climbs in good positions but i was tired from all the riding at the front, and all the fighting. And it was for this reason i never got over them.... but i have learnt! In hindsight i should have sat back in the pack, not in the front. I should have only started fighting just before the main climbs, and not the small ones but then again, i was just happy to finish and i did feel really strong. But then again, if life was like that, id win alot more races too!
We had roger in the front group but as he is not a sprinter he couldn't really do much. For me i got shelled on the cipressia and just rode to he finish in a group. It was a long day, and a really weird race. For me the race actually passed quickly. I feel really good now and i think im coming into some good form just when i need to be. Now i race dwoors door vlandarian, followed by E3 prijs. Then i have 3 days of de panne. heres hoping....
So until then,