Monday, August 13, 2012

Dwars door de Westhoek

After the excitment on Friday's race, there wasn't much sleep had the rest of the weekend.. But on Sunday it was time to line up to race again, this time for the UCI 1 day race Dwars door de Westhoek. This race cut 2 laps of the Schomenkleberg and Monteberg climbs in southern Belgium, and then 4 local laps which had about 800m of rough cobbles each time. I was guest riding for the Dutch team SwaboLadies, which suited me perfectly given their kit is pink 
Team Presentation
120 starters, rain, wind & cobbles. I was nervous. My positioning is getting a little better, but all of the elements combined to make me struggle today. Every time I moved up the front, I would be at the back again within 30 seconds. Less than ideal when you're going up 15% climbs on narrow laneways with people dropped wheels and having to unclip everywhere. Thankfully I managed to avoid any near misses and stay in contact with the front bunch through both laps of the hills, and so knew I'd be fine for the last half of the race.

Going up one of the climbs
After the hills were done, I misunderstood the motorbike giving time information to us, and thought there was a breakaway up the road. Turns out it was the gap between our bunch and the 2nd bunch back on the road. Yeah, not smart. Because of this, I let myself stay near the back of the bunch as the gap to what I thought was the break was really large. Had I known there wasn't a breakaway, I might have raced a little differently, but I can't change that now.
Jo had a good race, managing to get 2nd in the QOM competition by only 1 point. Unfortunately for her, she just missed out on winning a Colnago frame! She was also very active up the front, and was involved in most attacks. It's great to see her racing so strongly over here and I can only hope that I can get to that level soon! I know I've still got lots of improvement to come though, so that's a big motivation for me. More time in the Euro peloton will be a big key to that for me as I really suck at the big bunches!
Jo going for a QOM
The cobbles on each lap were vicious. Thankfully there was a slightly smooth bit down each side of them for a part of it, because by the 2nd last lap I was busting to go to the toilet and the cobbles weren't helping the situation at all!
The bunch going over some of the cobbles
Soon enough we were coming in for the final lap and so I just stayed out of the way for the sprint and rolled in at the back of our bunch. I was happy to have made it through, and will chalk it up to experience to build on!
Again a big thanks to Hans for letting me guest ride with his team, and picking Jo and I up to get to the race!

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