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Last Stop U23 Paris - Roubaix
6 Jun, 2009
First off I would like to apologise for the delay, I know people have been waiting to find out how my last attempt at Paris-Roubaix went. Too tell you the truth my fingers were too sore and writing emails was not looking attractive. But the easiest way to say that would be I was too lazy.

Anyway my final attempt for U23 paris-roubaix was looking good with those two earlier victories but the team needed me to race a 3 day tour in the Pyrenees, France the weekend before. I didn't email about it because there wasn't really much to say and I had other things on my mind. I had to ride for the teams climber so being first for me was the lowest priority. Anyway Yannik (the climber) turned up to the tour with a stomach bug and me being his room mate I ended up with it on the last day. I rode 16km of the last stage, from the start to the hotel. I was soooo crook. The First half of the week leading into Roubaix I was desperately trying to get rid of my crook guts and finally I felt good again on the Thursday. I tried hard not think about the few days where I couldn't really train and tried to remain positive but I wont lie, the further into the week I got feeling back was making things harder and harder. "Why is it always my turn for something to go wrong when there is something really important coming up?" if any one has that answer please email me and tell me? The main thing was i was feeling 100% by Friday.

The race......... I had a good sleep, I hadn't thought at all about the earlier few days, and I was amping. Finally the day I had been waiting so patiently for was here. Leading up to the start, if I said I wasn't nervous I would be lying. I was constantly to and from the toilets, but not from being a little nervous but more I was well hydrated. Thats what I kept telling myself anyway. It was the first time I have actually been nervous for a while. I knew who were the favorites were from the highlighted markings on our teams start list but judging by the huge "!" (explanation mark) my director had drawn next to Taylor Phinney's name I knew he was a big priority.

The first 50km is just like a normal road race with rolling hills but no cobbles. I knew they would let an early break go but wasn't at all concerned when it went because all the favorites were still sitting in the peloton. All though I think to bridge to the break wouldn't be that hard if I needed to. The Peloton was creeping and the break wasn't taking much time so they cant have been going that fast either. I think in that first 50km I spent a lot of time in my small chainring.

I was expecting shit to hit the fan once we reached the first section of cobbles but it didn't. And the race never really go hard until the 3rd to last section of cobbles. It was really frustrating but every time we tried to do something about it, it would only last a few minutes and then slow down. Thats all that happened in the first 130km. After that things started heating up a bit which made me happy. Normally at this stage in the race the peloton is 20-30 riders, but this time the peloton was still 60-70. It didn't take much, all the strong riders went to the front and drove it over the longest section in the race. That made 9 riders left at the front. I WASNT one of them!

By this stage everyone in riding in the dirt on the side of the cobbles and I was a few riders back from where it was splitting. I hit the cobbles as soon as I realised what was happening and rode around the few guys that weren't fast enough and then back down to the dirt where it was faster. They only had about 20m but I was running out of legs fast trying to catch them, But I did! So did one other guy and that was it race over.

The unfortunate thing was there were 3 guys from one team and 2 guys from another in the front group of 11. They attacked all the way to the finish, and with every gap I had to close or attack I had to shut down, I could feel my sprint getting less and less. Finally we reached the Velodrome and I was saying to myself "one last effort! Com on." But unfortunately again, It didn't com on! I stood up to sprint and everything cramped. I mean everything! Fingers, Forearms, quads, calfs. I knew right when I sat back down that it was going to be a repeat sprint of the first year..... SEATED! And seated sprints aren't that effective. I gave everything I had seated but it was only enough for 7th.

I was SOOOOO disappointed because I knew I was capable of better but the more I looked back at the race the less I can find that would have been better doing differently. I raced the best race I could have but I guess it wasn't my day to shine and the other 6 riders were better. I caught up with fellow kiwi's Jesse Sargent and Sam Bewley of trek-Livestrong before the race and they had no idea what they were in for. When I caught up with them after I don't think they knew what had hit them. Sam comes straight up to me after a performance I did not expect he had in him (16th) for someone who hasn't ridden cobbles before and said......"That was that hardest thing I EVER done in my life!" I could see on Jesse's face there was an AAAAAAAAA-MEN! So thats how the day went for me and despite doing everything right it didn't work out.

I have other things to focus on now so hopefully one of them will work out.
Clinton
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