As I mentioned in my last blog I travelled over to Belgium last week with two mates for some racing over there. While in the UK the season is pretty much done unless you were riding the Tour of Britain. Steve Lampier, Jamie Shirlaw and myself weren't ready to hang up the racing wheels for the season.
Day one, with10hrs travelling the day before a race isn't ideal but a quick spin in the morning before the race got the legs turning over It was a Pro Kermis in Zwevegem, West Flanders greeted by a nice day in the mid to high 20's. Due to still trying to rehab my injury I took it steady off the start and just tried to look after myself as best as possible, saving as much energy as possible. An early break went with 6 guys in which suited me, bigger groups kept going and I followed a few only for them to come back. I knew it was a case of rolling round for a few laps before the attacks started again in the last 50km....which pretty much right on cue started. I was following a lot, but groups kept going off and coming back.....with about 10km to go a 11 riders clipped off the front....as always the one I didn't go with stuck, they were fighting out for 7th place, while the rest of us had to settle for sprinting for 18th. A few attacks went with a km to go, I managed to get on the back of a group with Steve in on the last corner with Steve taking 18th and I took 19th.
Day two, awoke to typical Belgee weather of pouring
rain...fortunately I knew the forecast was to dry out in the
afternoon. Still pretty wiped out from the travel and racing and
with a race start not till 2pm, a lie in was on the cards!
Today's race was in Desselgem, again in West Flanders, know as Zulu country to those from East Flanders. As always in Belgium it was windy and having raced here two years ago I had a good idea that the break would go early and probably stay away. My predictions were right, I started mid bunch and by the time I got to the front after only a few km's and the beak was up the road. The race was still on though and I was covering as much as possible without going too much into the red. A few guys managed to jump over to the break but that was it everyone kind of sat up, the break wasn't going to be coming back either with 3 Oemga Pharma riders up there and it being there local race! It was about half race and the rest of it was spent in the gutter, I struggled round, suffering from my earlier efforts and yesterday's race. Another group did go off but I didn't have the legs and just sat hanging onto wheels in the gutter. Coming into the finish we were sprinting for 22nd place, I gave it a go but had nothing left and rolled in 39th place.
All in all I was happy with the two days of racing, considering I'm still not at 100% from injury it made me use my head a lot more. There were only a handful of riders who finished both days which gave me confidence that the races were hard and when I'm back to 100% I will have a lot more to give!
I got myself down the the finish of Tour of Britain yesterday in Guildford and am staying down here before heading back to Belgium for another few days. It was great to see my Team Raleigh teammates and congratulate them in a solid week of riding, getting the Raleigh jersey off and up the front on several days. Also good to see Pete Williams my house and team mate from last year take the sprinters jersey. All in all it was great to see all the UK domestic teams punching well above their weight in the ToB and shows the strength and quality of the British racing scene at the moment!
Thanks for reading