So after Steenokerzeel I drove to Roubaix to my accommodation for the night. Typical of Belgium it went from 28 degrees and sunny, to 17 and raining on my trip there. I was pretty excited that I would have the whole morning the next day to explore and visit the famous Velodrome, so had a makeshift dinner and went to bed.
Heading off in the morning for my adventure, i'd forgotten about how lax the French were with labeling roads. And so many u-turns and detours later, I made it to my destination and proceeded to cut a couple of hotlaps of the track. It was pretty damn cool being there and can only imagine what it's like when the race is on! It was concrete and bumpy, so I can't think it'd be nice to race an actual track race there, but they were building a new Velodrome just around the corner. After some happy snaps I headed off, content with the mornings activities.
Then it was time to get in to race mode again! Todays race was in Zwevegem, south Belgium. I wasn't too sure how I was feeling, and the wind was up, so I decided to start with no expectations (and a lot of caffeine in my system!). On tap today was 20 something laps of about 3.5k. Primes every 2 laps from 3 to 21, and then the finish! The course was pretty standard, bumpy, cobbled, but fairly wide roads which makes moving around easier.
With the wind up, it was always going to be a harder race. Lots of time spent in the gutter! An early break went about 20k in, and managed to stay away for about 30k. Sengers missed it so had to chase, and them along with a couple of other girls brought the break back. I helped out a little, but was struggling in the headwind section and knew I had to conserve a bit if I was going to make it to the end. More attacks came after they were brought back, and I just tried to make sure I went with anything that looked threatening. By 60k I thought I was done.. So broke out the emergency TORQ Banoffee and within 5 minutes I came good. Rocket Fuel!
It was perfect timing as a break of 5 went up the road, and I managed to get in the chasing bunch of 10 or so. We worked to get across, and this unded up being the winning break! So given that I was feeling ok again, I worked a bit to help make sure it stayed away. I knew the move was coming from the eventual winner. But missed it. Just over a lap to go she launched solo and managed to hold off the bunch. About 500m later I had a go at getting across to her, but when I turned in to the headwind section I went backwards and was picked up by the chasing pack a short time later.
More attacks went and a couple got away to take the minor podium placings, but by then it was all I could do to hang on to the end! I sprinted as best I could, and managed 11th over the line. So close to the top 10 that I would have loved to have got, but a massive improvement than on last time I was here! And it leaves some more room to move up too :-)
After the race it was straight back in to the car for the 3hr road trip back to Germany! Great recovery.... Nothing like lollies, chips and a protein shake as a post race meal whilst cramped up in the car!
Next up is the Tour Feminin Krasna Lipa in the Czech Republic. Racing with the team CK Victoria from Norway, I'll also be on the same team as Jo and Emma which should make things pretty fun! It'll be good to catch up with a few other girls I know that are racing too!