Read about Clinton's tales from the school of cycling in Belgium on his quest to become a pro cyclist.
Im back again..... This time i have to write about two races so in some parts of the story i will spare some detail so you aren't reading all day. Also i never raced these two races back to back, i just haven't had time to write about the first one which was on Friday.
Race 1 was in a small town not far from where i am living. 112km around an 8km circuit. The race was all go from the moment the gun went and it didn't take long for it to be all over rover for of riders. The start was tail wind, but after 150m we turned left into a strong cross wind. I had already taken on the roll of getting things started by putting it in the gutter and winding up to max effort. 100m later there were 8 guys off the front but in the strong wind it didn't take long for that 8 to become 6. There were a couple of big hitters in the break with me but not all the hitters made it. I knew with a few hitters missing the break it wouldn't be long till a small group containing them would come across.
Sure thing with 7 laps to go they joined us making a lead group of 16. A few not so strong riders were in the right place at the right time when things were happening and managed to tag along, but another effort in the gutter soon got rid of them. With 3 laps to go 9 riders and no peleton even close to bringing us back things started to get a bit edgey. The front group including myself was all the big names of kermise racing and no one knew who was willing to do what in the conditions, therefore making everyone nervous. On the last lap a few attacks were laid down but none succeeded.
With 1km to go a couple of guys attacked, and normally i would be the one who gives in first to chase it. Not today though, i waited and waited. I knew Jorei (my team mate from last year who i always had to lead out for the sprint) wanted to win. Hes one of the best sprinters in Belgium so i left it up to him. 400m to go i had Jorei's wheel and this was going to be a true test of the sprint training i have been doing. Things got started with 150m to go when Mario Willems hit it starting the sprint. Jorei was second wheel and i was third. Jorei was waiting so i waited. 75m to go I knew i was coming up past Jorei who was going over top of Willems. A big lunge for the line saw both Jorei and I salute the victory as neither of us actually knew who got it. I had a feeling I got it and the way jorei was acting said he thought he didn't.
Shortly after, while we were waiting for the photo finish result i saw Mario (Jorei's director) talking to the comassaires. I couldn't help but wander what he said to them when they announced Jorei as the winner. Then when collecting the prize money, because a few people had told me i won and i had seriously thought i had, i asked to see the photo finish. They told me they didn't have it, when the camera was sitting right next to them. Then they told me the battery was flat, but they continued to reinforce the fact that it was so close. I cant help but wander what dodgey action went on but the official result was i was second. One thing i learnt was next time i have to beat him undoubtedly!
Race 2 was today, again windy but this time rain was added to it. It was again 112km this time 16 laps. To be honest there was nothing exciting happen in this race. The gutter sections were too short to do any real damage to the peleton so it took a while to eliminate riders. As a matter of fact i think crashes on corners eliminated more. At the moment farmers are planting their crops so from the tractors there is a lot of mud on the road making it ever so slippery. I mean i nearly decked it 3 times. I think it was only the mtb skill and knowing what a sliding bike feels like that kept me up right. Anyway over the coarse of the race the peleton got smaller and smaller. 2 guys got up the road but no one wanted to chase. They stayed away to the finish. For me, i got away with 4 guys with 3 laps to go, unfortunately 2 were from the same team. That made the finish just a bit harder as on the last lap they just took turns at attacking. One slipped away with 2km to go and i wasn't able to bring him back. So i contested a sprint for 4th place. I finished 5th. Not because i wasn't fast enough in the sprint, just because the podium was full and 4th or 5th to me didn't really matter.
Anyway that's how my last too races have panned out, ill be back with more stories after the races this weekend.