Belgium, May 12, 2006
Well here I am back again and things are still traveling along, albeit along a bumby old road.
After returning home from China our next adventure was up to Denmark for two nice 1.1's and the other half of the team went to the Tour of Bretagne in Brittany. The guys in Bretagne showed their worth and Russel was very active with a number of top 5 finishes and quite a few near misses. He was second overall leading up to the TT but lost a bit of time there and fell to sixth. Still guts it out for the remainder of the week and finished 10th overall. By all accounts the other guys were going well and were strong in support. Big thanks goes to all the staff - Daniel, Raoul, Michelle and Andy, who came over from England to be mechanic. Cheers.
Denmark - well, that was an eventful trip. Got up early on Friday and drove up. We left with only four riders as Sven and Leigh were both sick. About halfway there I started to feel pretty average and that night I was down with a fever and the works. Something climbed on board for a quick 24 hour trip and took me down with it. Suffice to say, I did not start on Saturday although I did sign on as four riders were needed to start. I spent the day sleeping in the back of the van and feeling average. Meanwhile in the race, Bernie and Tom suffered untimely punctures on the gravel sections that litter the GP SATS race in Denmark and did not make it to the finish. Matt rode strongly and showed that his condition is starting to come along. CSC won the race and showed that they would be the team to watch on Sunday.
After the race we travelled to Aarhus for our second race, the Colliers Classic. A much simpler race with no gravel section but hills and wind instead. Was feeling a little better Saturday night and was able to get a feed down - so I made a tentative plan to start on Sunday.
Awoke Sunday and I was feeling ok so I decided to start. Made a plan to get to the feed at 100km and see how I felt. The race turned on at the 70km mark when CSC utilised the crosswind to good effect to split the bunch. Just as they did this Bernie and Tom punctured again and were unable to get back. Matt was feeling the effects of the previous day and didn't make the split.
So that left sick boy (me) still in the race - was feeling ok but a little weak from the effects of the day before. Got to the feed and still feeling ok but I knew the important hills were coming and needed to be at the front. My day in the bunch came to an end at the 150km mark when up a hill my legs gave and could not follow. Felt completely empty so rode in the remaining kilometres of the big lap and called it a day after 160km. Erwin Thijs of Unibet won after being alone for the last 60km with CSC chasing flat out.
So a disappointing trip this year to Denmark for Team DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed, but it was a trip dogged with bad luck and illness. It was not that the races were out of reach, as we were all up there last year, just that lady luck was not smiling, and sometimes that's all you need. Big thanks to Patrick, Gil and "Crazy" Chris for the help on the weekend. Recovered pretty quickly after the illness and a good week of training was had with old mate Glen Chadwick - I was ready for the weekend.
"Anything to declare...yeah, don't go to Holland."
The two races the team had for the weekend were both in Holland and were Ronde van Overijsel and Omloop de Kempen. Both 200km, both completely flat, both windy, both had narrow roads, both...
In Overijsel the team went well and both Jeremy and Bernie were up there. In the end Jeremy was 12th after a great last 50km where he was in the lead group and tried on numerous occasions to get away from the group. Bernie was in the second group on the day and the rest of us got caught out in the crosswind and behind dropped riders and crashes.
Oomloop de Kempen rolled around and my bad luck for the year continued when I crashed after 40km. Another sudden switch in the bunch and with no time to react I was on the deck again. Face planted this time and took some bark off the Chevy Chase and all the usual places. Spent the rest of the afternoon waiting in hospital for the doc to give me stitches to out my lip back together only to be told that they were not needed. "It will leave a nasty scar either way". So, another few steps forward and even more back. On the good side of things Russel and the team had a good day out. We were all at the front all day and in all the main splits. Russel finished the day off in seventh and Jeremy was up there until puncturing close to the finish. Bernie had a mechanical and Dean is coming back from injury plus Matt is coming along. So what's next...?
Well this week was going to be a week of getting ready for Tryptique Ardennes the following Friday with some good rides in the hills and a few little kermesse races, but that plan has been changed due to what happened on Sunday. So instead I'll be recovering from that, seeing doctors to get fixed up, watching some DVD's, reading and hopefully by the end of the week can start thinking about doing something decent.
Fingers crossed for me, please.
Till next time we meet.