By Bjorn Haake in Roeselare
Astana's Aaron Kemps is Australian and could be forgiven for feeling miserable in Belgium's spring weather. Kemps told Cyclingnews, "It's a bit different," but added "I am used to it by now. I have been doing the Belgian races for a couple of years already."
Kemps doesn't spend too much time in Australia. He lives in San Sebastian, Spain, during the season. "We get some bad weather there sometimes, but it's nice in the summer, and I like it there."
In fact, Kemps was positively surprised to see the weather clear up Wednesday morning before Dwars van Vlaanderen. "The weather turned out to be 100% better than I thought it was going to be. I expected snow and below zero [degree] temperatures. But it's not too bad and I hope it's a good race today." Kemps has had enough cancellations for the week. The Aussie "meant to do Rund um Köln," but instead had to settle "for some training."
Before the start of Dwars van Vlaanderen, he said, "I was really hoping we could race today." He was looking forward to getting in some good training miles.
If the race had been cancelled, he "would have stayed in a hotel in Belgium, and there'd be no training." Having just had the hotel experience in Cologne, he didn't want a repeat. Then, the team couldn't go out on the icy German roads and its riders were stuck getting a workout inside with "45 minutes on the ergometer." The training and race miles are important to Kemps who said, "Flanders and those races are coming up, so it's good to get some races in."
Talking about his team's non-invitation to the Tour de France, Kemps said it has strengthened the squad. "Everybody is trying to make the best out of it," Kemps said. "You can see that with the win of Tomas [Vaitkus] on Sunday, and also Contador's win [stage 1 - time trial Vuelta Castilla y León - ed.]"
"The team is motivated to win as much as possible," said Kemps, "to show everyone that we are one of the best teams in the world and that we should be there at these big races." Dwars didn't quite work out for Astana, though. He explained, "We have two guys here today, Serguei Ivanov and Vaitkus. I think Ivanov will give it a try and if he gets in a breakaway later in the race then hopefully it can work that way. Or, if it comes down to a bunch sprint we will be working for Tomas." His own job was to be a domestique. "I will work for the team, go with the early breaks and keep the team at the front." He mused that it would be cool to get in a break, but he knew it would not be easy.
Vaitkus ended up beating none other than Robbie McEwen in the bunch sprint. Unfortunately, it was only for 13th place, 44 seconds behind the winner. Kemps was one of the many who had to surrender to the rainy conditions, with only 86 riders finishing the race.