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Franco Belge
29 Sep, 2003

The last 4 days I have been racing in a race called Franco-Belge.  At the moment there is a lot of very good riders who are still searching for a contract for next season, so yeah the racing was bloody hard to say the least.

I started off good, feeling better than the last few races but still not really good. Really struggling to shake this cold but finished it well so I think it may have left me to it. Felt good when the pace was on, but then when the pace wasn't on I was not good at all. Just felt like I was bogging, legs would tie up…it was a tad frustrating.

The first two stages I just finished in the bunch.  Had a few digs on stage one, trying to go with the break…close but not close enough. We ran 3rd with Nico Mattan, and had Sassone in 7th so it was a good start. With the 2nd stage going to a kiwi…. Jules!  Couldn't be happier seeing him win after what has been a frustrating last couple of weeks for him.  Also it was funny because Lotto rode hard all day, brought the break back and then Jules rolled McEwen for the win!

Stage three was interesting.  It started off fast and our man Sassone got away with a group of 5 that went out to 10mins.  Well me along with 70% of the peleton thought that it was over, that was until Lotto got on the front and rode again for the 2nd day in a row and shut the break down with 3km to go! Grrrrr.  We arrived at the finishing circuit, which was a dangerous narrow road with a lot of corners in the last 3km.  I was feeling super strong today, I felt it half way through the stage and knew the form had arrived so I said to myself that if I can get through the corners in a good position I would give it a nudge.  Harder than it probably sounds.  The last few corners were so dangerous, and you and me both know how I am when it comes to that shit.  Turns out that I bit the bullet, took a few risks and got round the last corner just before the last kilometer to go.  I was in about 6th wheel and I actually panicked and hit it.  Before I knew it I was just off the front so I braked as didn't want to hit the front too early.  With 700m to go I was on the front and who was on my wheel…Jules.  So I just went as hard as I could.   He ended up running 2nd so that was good, but this time McEwen won.

The last stage was also a full noise affair.  80km to start with, then we rode 6 laps of a circuit that had a tough we climb in it. I was confident of doing something today, really motivated.  After 2 laps of the circuit I got away with 5 riders, one was Jules.  We rode well together, but god we had to ride hard.  The gc was undecided and we all knew that the last lap up the climb the attacks would start from the bunch.  That is exactly what happened.  We were out front for 80km and at the top of the climb on the last lap we had about 35secs.  Only about 6km to go, but it was just not enough.  We got caught by a group of 10 with 3km to go. Gutted!  And as per normal, we got caught and the counter attacks started.  I was poked and could not follow, so I had to wait for the sprint.  They were parting in ones and twos and with 1km to go about 8 riders were up the road.  I ended up finishing fast and taking 7th…but was very disappointed with how it turned out.  That's cycling I guess.

One guy who was driving the break was Jules… Lookout!  Next up for me is the world cup Paris Tours.  This is a 260km race, and you might as well call it pre worlds.  I don't know what to expect but Ill give it a good go.  To finish would be doing well, especially as it is meant to rain the whole day.

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