By Bjorn Haake
A little more than a week ago Nico Mattan hosted his good-bye race to bid farewell to the professional peloton. But he didn't want to merely have a regular crit, as is custom. Instead, the Belgian decided to organize a two-man team time trial, where a professional or ex-professional was paired up with a wielertoerist (cyclo-tourist). Many wanted to sign up, but because there was also a criterium afterwards on a tight, 1.5-kilometre loop, the event was restricted to 90 people, or 45 kopples - a team of two that did one lap on the circuit.
Dirk Rosiers was one of those managing to sign up. He was paired with Belgian Leif Hoste, twice runner-up in the Tour of Flanders. Rosiers, a travel agent for Europareizen in Roeselare, Belgium, does a lot of riding in other countries and continents, due to his job. He has pedaled in Africa, Asia and many places in Europe, but never did a race before. However, he met Mattan two years ago and they sometimes go out training together. This has helped Rosiers to get in shape for the event, and even though he hasn't done any competitive events, he previously rode the Marmotte (for the Lance Armstrong foundation) and the Ardéchoise and Les Trois Ballons, which are century-like events.
Rosiers loves long rides in the mountains with a mountain bike and declared "the feeling afterwards is great." The above centuries aren't of the short kind, so the long rides help Rosiers to get ready for those. No long rides were necessary, however, to get ready for the 1.5-kilometre time trial. Instead, acceleration is key and Rosiers, who said that "it was special for me to ride with the pros," admitted that "he [Hoste] was so explosive after a corner.WAW!!!"
Fortunately, overall "It was OK following Leif, because he looked out for me." Rosiers had never met Hoste before and a little pre-race chat was all the two had to get ready for the event. Rosiers evaluation came back positive. "He's OK outside the biking life as well." The duo Hoste and Rosiers could not match the winning couple of Mattan and Philippe Vandorpe, who clocked 1'49"11 and narrowly beat Frank Vandenbroucke and Kristof Dhaene (1'51"19), but still, their time of 2'01"86 put them in 14th place out of the 45 teams, ahead of illustrious names like Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel), Serge Baguet and Peter Farazijn.
In the crit things went even better for the duo, where they got fourth place. "Thanks to Leif," as Rosiers admitted, but nonetheless a top result. Mattan and Vandorpe were ahead again of VDB and Dhaene, with Peter Van Petegem and Patrick Vanhoorn racing to third. Rosiers and Hoste were just ahead of Serge Baguet and Bruno Mylle.
Rosiers was thrilled and said "the pros liked it also. And for Nico, it must be nice to see he has so many of friends in the peloton, who came to ride in the gentleman's race. The organisation was perfect."
The travel agent rides a a Pinarello Marvel with Shimano Ultegra. Besides the event with the pros, he rated the best ride of the year his adventure over the Franschoek pass, in South Africa. "Riding between baboons was TOP, TOP, TOP!"
The results of the race are here.
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