Where do I start? Pretty frustrating week all round really in Assen. The prologue was a good start leaving me in 19th and 8 seconds down, however, the criterium stage was a bit like ying and yang. Let me start with saying I love criteriums they are really ME, meaning they suit me rather well, with the sustained power and constant accelerations, so I was doing rather well in the first part of the race. Racking up a few Green Jersey Points with a second and 5 place in 2 sprints before the race went to pieces. A rider, who will remain nameless (partly because I don’t actually know who it was), managed to collide with the rear of my beloved Cannondale Supersix Evo Hi-Mod, now I say beloved because I have won all my wins in Belgium on that bike and it had carried me through many highs and lows to slowly but surely get to where I am now. But I digress, the rear derailleur was mangled and caught up in between the spokes and the cassette. Now at first we assumed it was fixable, but I had a nagging thought in my mind that the frame may have been cracked, and on closer examination, it had indeed cracked. With pretty brutal cobbles the next day we decided it was unrideable. Thankfully we knew of a bike shop called AnjoJager nearby, and went in search of a new bike to one finish the Assen Junior Tour but also start the stage race called the Vuelta Pamplona to which I am currently preparing for with HMT cycling team.
So we built the bike in a rush and a few panics later it was ready to race the Classic, stage 3. This one was one I really wanted to finish because two years ago I had had some really bad luck, forcing me incapable of finishing. But after joining Trainsharp I had gained leaps and bounds in my fitness and ability to race, so much so that I nearly spent the whole duration of the race 90km in the front ¼ of the bunch. Something I was very happy with. However, not everything was plain sailing, as I had had some pretty crappy sleep the night before, partly due to building the bike I suspect, I was feeling pretty dreadful on the bike, yet I managed to gain a single point in the white jersey sprint. That is quite a funny story really, I had expected the dreaded cobble section to be around the corner, instead we had one more white jersey sprint, so, I went with it and contested it enough for a couple of the forerunners to get concerned about my positioning to attempt to push me into the gutter/grass. I managed to get round but never really wanted to contest fully.
Then the cobbles! I had been waiting for these and I had set up myself perfectly with the help of my teammate. I managed to lead out half of the cobbles making others hurt in the process. At one point I thought I had f***ed up by hitting a crater in the middle of the road so hard I felt my rim of my wheel. For those of you that don’t follow cycling too much, hitting the rim is one of the worst things you can do as your race could be over with a puncture, thankfully and surprisingly I managed to avoid the dreaded puncture and remained at the front of the race.
Towards the end of the race a teammate of mine had ridden off the front, and I naturally sat up at the front of the bunch because, in part, I wanted to save myself for the stage I had been looking forward to for a while, the TT, although in Netherlands you can’t say TT without meaning the motorsport so we will call it the Time Trial.
Not the best start to the day that needed to run smoothly. I had left my Garmin at the campsite so my mum set off to pick it up and in doing so she saved my day arriving just in time. Not the best prep but hey ho. Anyhow I was still prepared to smash it. I went out the blocks a little too fast and nearing the first corner I saw Ieuan, a close mate with whom I started out riding my bike. I was a bit naffed off because I wanted to have a bit of a battle with him in terms of time, that is right you heard me say battle, this Time Trial game can be quite brutal at times. Anyway I set off and half way through the time trial I found I wasn’t in the biggest gear I could have been, and therefore I wasn’t going as quick as I could have been.
I was in the hotseat (fastest time) for 10 seconds before the rider 30 seconds behind came through, I sat in third for a while and it was quite agonising waiting for all the times to come in. I ended up in 7th 44 seconds off the winner.
The last two days were pretty average not getting anywhere in the sprint on Friday after riding aggressively all race. But! Saturday went a little better, being at the front or off the front. In one of the early sprints I managed a 4th place to show I have many strings to my bow. Before the race I had said I want to go off the front with one to two kilometres to go and I did just that! The pack let me go and I set in pursuit of the two leaders, however I knew I was never going to catch them so I was racing like I was winning because after the week I had had I would have been very happy with 3rd. It was a solid attack and I pushed the bunch very hard until they opened their sprint and caught me with 50 metres to go, very unfortunate but I was dead happy with who I saw pass me. Again it was Ieuan! We both had had a pretty crappy week so I was happy that he had got a result and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to sprint past me for the 3rd place that I was dying for, literally and figuratively.
So overall not the best week on the bike but I sure did show what I am capable of, and I was happy with succeeding the goal of showing fellow riders, who I had looked up to, what I could do on my bike and that I am as good as they are.
A couple weeks ago, I raced in Spain for four days with HMT so I was treating this as a two week stage race. At publishment of this blog I am currently in the process of writing that blog and will be up in a couple of days.