April 7, 2005
Hello my friends from Cyclingnews,
Well finally, for the first time all season, I was in the front of a race, ready to play my cards for the win at Gent-Wevelgem. But once again, bad luck and trouble came my way. It was less than 10km to go and I was in the race-winning breakaway. We went around a left hand corner and I slipped on the wet road; my front wheel went out from under me on the paint stripe crosswalk that was soaked from the day's intermittent rain showers and I fell on my rear end. I had great legs that day and was sure I could have had a good result. On the Kemmel, I made a great move. I got across by myself the 20 second gap to the front group and as soon as I got across, my former teammate Cancellara put the hammer down as only he can and I went to the back of the group. That was the moment that the winning break in Gent-Wevelgem was formed and I made it!
Clearly, I wasn't going to work, with my Quick.Step team captain and last year's Gent-Wevelgem winner Tom Boonen in the second gruppo just 30 seconds behind. Tom had good legs and if the chase had caught us, it was my job to help him in the finale. Things had really worked out well for me, but when the real action started, I crashed! Luckily nothing much was damaged except my pride. I have a few scrapes and bruises on my left side and lower back plus my elbow is hurting a bit. But nothing serious so I'm feeling relaxed and positive. I didn't have much luck but the legs are good.
When I got back to the team bus, I told my teammates I was sorry about crashing out of the break but everyone was really cool and Tom got up from his seat and told me not to worry, that's bike racing. So now we are back at our team hotel and are beginning to realize that Paris-Roubaix is getting closer. Finally I understand what it is to be part of a Belgian team during what you could call "Holy Week", the week between Flanders and Roubaix. I feel 100 percent focused in this atmosphere. Sunday is going to be my first Paris-Roubaix but I'm not worried.
With teammates like I have at Quick.Step and all their experience, I know I can do a good race at least to help Tom who is looking at the double of Flanders-Roubaix. We had a relaxing day of recovery on Thursday which I needed from my crash. It's Friday morning and now we are going to check out the course today, including the new cobbles that we hear are already pretty muddy. It's raining and pretty cold, just what you expect for Roubaix, but the weather is supposed to be OK for Sunday. I feel positive and am feeling the way I've wanted to feel for a few months. I'm READY TO RUMBLE... hahaha!