Belgium, April 13, 2006
The house is FULL - no vacancies. Now we have nine riders in the house, things will start to heat up in the kitchen. There won't be a full house all the time as there will always be riders going away on Tours, and this will ease the pressure on the walls in the house.
Now, something I promised last time was to deliver you riders and nicknames, so here they are
Russell Downing (British National Champion), Fonzy
Yanto Barker (GBr), Yobo
Dean Downing (GBr), Day Off
Tom Barras (GBr), Ratboy
Alex Coutts (GBr), ?
Matt Brammeier (GBr), ?
Leigh Palmer (GBr/Aus), Tank
Sven de Weerdt (Bel), Monty (weather man)
Jeremy Vennell (NZl), Dag
Cameron Jennings (Aus), Worm
Kane Oakley (Aus), Munge
David Harrigan (Aus), Harro
Bernie Sulzberger (Aus). Badger
Some boys are just new to the house, so their names will come - the next couple of weeks will be very interesting.
Circuit des Ardennes, Fra (2.2): A team of six went down to this race - Badger, Harro, Day Off, Monty, Tank and Munge. Ardennes is very nice but too many hills took its toll on some of the riders.
Stage 1 (160km) went OK; not too many hills, but some windy sections and high speeds made it pretty tough. Through the feed zone we where going too fast to get feed bags - Badger and Tank tried but just ripped the bags apart. Harro and Tank were strong/crazy enough to go back to the car and get a couple of bags each, while the peloton was moving very fast. Great effort! It was a sprint finish so Day Off got up there and mixed it up well.
Stage 2 (180km) was the hilly one. Monty, Badger and Day Off had a good day in the hills while Tank, Harro and I flapped round out the back. Good hill training.
Stage 3 and 4 was a split day; it started early which some of the riders where not too happy with. The 70km in the morning was pretty tough, but Badger was going strong and finished very well. I had a long day in the cars after a flat, doing some solid motor pacing efforts before getting back onto the peloton at the bottom of a climb. Legs did not like this!
Stage 4 - a couple of hours later we started the 100km. Once again Badger rode strong, coming in with the front group, to complete a very good Tour ride.
The rest of the team did their best, but it wasn't that great.
Overall we hope that a good Tour in the legs will bring some good results for China (Tour of Chongming Island) next week. With Badger's good form this is possible.
The laughs on Tour just keep coming, with all the one liners and some seriously funny jokes (some, not a lot). All this keeps the spirits high during a hard Tour. Tank thinks he's probably the funniest guy in the world, but he didn't find it that funny when he was in the "Box" (during the stages) which was nailed shut. (Tank's first big tour for the year - it happens!). It took him a couple of days to get out of the Box.
Next up for half of the team is China - the Tour of Chongming Island. We leave on Wednesday, and it should be great. Riders going: Badger, Worm, Monty, Tank, Ratboy and Munge.
Time to study some Chinese.
Bye bye for now.
Kane "Munge" Oakley
P.S. Our soigneur, Raoul ("Splinter"- Kung Fu master) brought back the Robot Dance in fine form for the French. Thank you very much.