Rossella Ratto finds her nemesis in Belgium
What are the cobbles? My new nightmare, and Paterberg in particular. I hated it on the training it was no different in the race.
What’s amazing (and ironic) is that I've been sleeping for a week in a flat called "Paterberg" in the Hitec Products team base in Belgium.
On Saturday morning, the morning of Omloop Het Nieuwsbald, as I opened my eyes I saw the picture of that steep road on the wall of my room, trying to intimidate me.
I've always watched the classics on television, but riding on difficult cobble sections is not as easy as Bonnen, Museeuw or Cancellara make it look.
For me Nieuwsblad was the first race of the year, the first race with such a winter weather, the first race on the cobbles and through the narrow roads of Belgium and the first race with my new team, Hitec Products.
During the training rides before the race I tried to learn how to go faster on the cobbles. It was a new challenge for me, so I also tried to climb the Geraadsbergen Muur and Bosberg, just to get some experience.
I can't say that I like cobbles, but of course I need more practice. The race was just the confirmation of my handicap on these terrible pieces of stone.
I felt like a cat and I want to explain you why.
First of all I avoided a crash and I have no idea how. I remember that a rider just next to me crashed and I tried to keep my balance, touching the road with my right foot while I was still going fast.
Then every cobble section I was dropped but I would always come back to the front, trying to help my teammates.
Like a cat, during Het Nieuwsbald I had several lives.
It was quite funny, I've never seen my team car so many times as I did during the race; our communication was perfect!
But in the end I must have used all my nine lives because I died for the last time as the peloton thundered over the Lange Munte, where at the end of the cobbles a long straight road with a freezing headwind was waiting for me.
I arrived to the finish line very tired, with a small group that reached me 8 km before and looking forward for a hot and long shower.
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