2003 Diary

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30/12/03

I felt really rough warming up today, which was a pity as the circuit really suited me today, though it was very cold - hovering around freezing. There wasn't too much mud allowing for a really fast race. I new a fast start would be imperative. I was called up on the 3rd row, so I needed all the help I could to get. After Pospisil's lead out on Sunday I thought he would be a good bet, so once again I go on his wheel on the start line and hung on! By the end on the start straight I was 6th! The lap was really short, only just 5 mins round but by the end of the first lap Bart Wellens and Sven Nijs had already attacked and were about 10 seconds off the front of my group. It was quite strange for me really, as normally, I am always flat out for the whole hour trying to catch the group in front. This was a new situation, a fast circuit and team tactics meant the race was ridden more like a criterium on the road, attacks, recovery but never a constant speed. Towards the end of the race the constant accelerating was beginning to take its toll and my concentration began to suffer, I made a few mistakes and had to chase hard to regain the group. Just as I was about to get back on my 2 team mates (Tom Vanoppen and Davy Commeyne) were getting dropped,  I thought it was my chance to get some help closing the final meters. I was wrong however! I am not really sure why but Vanoppen decided to attack us! I must admit he went fast and closed the gap on his own, but he left Commeyne and myself in no-mans land with another chase to do! It was one chase too many for me, I had to slow down and ride at my own pace for the last 2 laps. I was really pleased though as I felt I was  in the race for 3rd place for most of the race. Now just a bit more training for the last 10 minutes....... Bart Wellens won his 17th race of the season from Sven Nijs, with Ben Berden heading the group I had been in for 3rd place.

29/12/03

I suffered badly in Koksijde last year, eventually getting lapped after about 50 mins. So to say I was a bit nervous this year would be a bit of an understatement. The circuit which is based in the sand dunes of the Belgian coast, was changed this year to incorporate the a new rule by the UCI, stipulating the pits have to be a double pit. It didn't help!  There was even more sand! I got a great start for once. I latched onto Jiri Pospisil's wheel and he took me to the front by the end of the 400m start straight. I felt comfortable and really felt as though it was a pace I could follow through the first off-road section, I hadn't reckoned on how bad I was in the sand! I was dropped from the front group on the first descent in the sand! If you get the right line in sand it can be like riding on a road, if you get it wrong line it is like riding in really deep mud!!!  It was really difficult to get it right!!! I tried to get going in the 2nd group but was still trying to recover from the effort I had made to stay with the first group. I was just off the back when I had recovered enough to get back into my rhythm, but I couldn't close the gap. For 5 laps I did a time trial, picking off the riders that had misjudged how tiring it is to race in sand! I finished 23rd in the end, on the same lap as the winner Ben Berden! So all in all I was pleased, I had a really hard race, and feel I had improved over last year!

 

21/12/03

I had a bad day in Overijse today but managed to get a good training session out of it, so all was not lost. Race report..... and some photo's...

Good news as Far as Geert Omloop is concerned. His break is not as bad as first diagnosed and can train on the indoor trainer already. Hopefully he should be on the roads in 10 days time. It is good news for the team as he is an important rider for the classics in the beginning of the season.

Even when I was warming up I didn't feel very good today, but I was hoping once I got started things would fall into place. I had to do a few laps on the circuit today to try and decide on which tyres to ride and the pressure to use. The circuit was very technical, added to that the muddy conditions, it  made for a very difficult race! I decided to go for grip and use my Michelin mud tyres with very little pressure. I started on the 3rd row which was better than normal. It was a pity really as I didn't have the legs to make use of it, I was only really able to hold my position until the off-road. That was when things really started to go wrong! I punctured both wheels (probable because I had them too soft) loosing even more positions. I struggled round to the pits and changed bikes. I made the mistake of going a bit mad and trying too hard to fight back. I made a mistake on a descent and crashed heavily, Once again I lost a few places! At this point I was really out of the race so I settled down and just tried to get some good training in. It seemed to be a good remedy as for the last 4 laps I felt quite good was catching people quickly. In a way the race was too short!!!! I am starting to get the hang of racing in the mud, but I also realise the sport is getting very specialised. My cyclo-cross team-mates arrived with 18 pairs of wheels each with various sizes of tyres and tread patterns! I felt a liitle inadequate with my 4 pairs! It is only a disadvantage in extreme conditions as today but it did look impressive non-the-less.  Anyway Overijse has never been a good venue for me. The first time I rode here ( along time ago!) it was also really muddy, I broke a gear cable early on in the race (Dad had to try and change it during the race so I could get change bikes to get them cleaned!) then I ripped a shoe plate off, ending any chances of finishing! Hopefully next year will be third time lucky.

Bart Wellens won the race from my team-mate Mario De Clerq With Sven Nijs completing the podium. Mario will be really pleased as  he has been asking for a place on the national team for the world cups and this placing proves he is still a force to be reckoned with

15/12/03

I finished 17th in Kalmthout Yesterday. It went quite well, here is a link to the race report. I have a provisional program for the rest of the cross season however some changes could be made subject to selection, form etc. We had a bit of a team get together last week. My program for the beginning of the road season was discussed....

Latest news : My team mate, Belgian Champion, Geert Omloop has broken his elbow in a training accident in Spain. At the moment it is not sure how long he will be out of action.

 

15/12/03

After last year I was a little bit afraid of Kalmthout. I can only remember running most of the time, and whenever I did manage to get on and ride it was so muddy I could only use my lowest gear, 39*25! You can imagine my relief when I arrived at the circuit and saw what appeared to be a hard surface. The circuit lasted quite well given that there were a lot of races on before ours. One thing that hasn't changed though is the ridiculous start. There is a long road section on the circuit, but for some strange reason they put the start 200 meters from the first corner into the field. With my customary start position on the 4/5th row a good start was impossible. I did the best I could but could only get up to 20th place by the end of the first lap. The main group had blown apart by this point, so it became a matter of working with the small group I was in, picking off as many of the riders coming backwards as we could. It was really frustrating, most of the race there was a group of about 8 riders just in front with Dutch champion Groenendaal amongst others. However hard we pushed to close the gap we always seemed to stay at the same distance. We worked well as a group with Gerben De Knegt, Tim Pawels and David Willemsens, though I started to suffer with 2 laps to go, partly due to it being my first race in a while, but also the circuit was starting to churn up quickly. On the last lap Gerben De Knegt attacked us and I hung on for half a lap until the effort forced me into making a small error, I lost the wheel and couldn't close it again. I even had to sprint with the other 2 for our placing, so it was a really good work out to the line! The race was won by Bart Wellens, who, for the moment seems to be head and shoulders above everyone else. With 1 lap to go he had 1min 30secs lead, but played to the crowd on the last lap. At the finish he only had an 18 second to my teammate Tom Vanoppen.

13/12/03

There has not been too much to report in the last few days. My operation went well and I was able to get out on the bike fairly soon after. The general anesthetic knocked me for six but hopefully that will only be a short term inconvenience.

In the mean time my team for next year, Mr. Bookmaker-Palmans-Collstrop, has had a get together rather than a training camp. We discussed the racing program for the beginning of next year, clothing ( the new jersey design is still to be confirmed but follow the link for a sneak preview....) but more importantly we tried to take lessons from our mistakes this year. Unfortunately not everyone was there, Jeremy Hunt and Ben Day are still in Australia, but the core riders from this season were all present and it was great to catch up. The most important news for the team really is, the step up to head sponsor by Mr Bookmaker.com. Last year they were a smaller co-sponsor but were impressed enough with their exposure to increase their involvement. You can bet (on a secure web site) on all major cycling races as well as other sporting events such as football, horse racing etc. Follow the link below to the English web site. 

It seems I will follow the same early season races, starting in GP Overture (Marseille) Followed by Etoile De Besseges (also Marseille region). A replacement will have to be found for the Tour Of Rhodes, which has been cancelled this year. It looks likely that I will be able to go to the Tour Of Mediterranean instead followed by Classic Haribo and Haut Var, subject to an invite for the team. That will probably complete my preparation for the classics, which will start with the opening weekend in Belgium of Het Volk and Kuurne Brussels-Kuurne 

Tomorrow I will start a category 1 cyclo-cross in Kalmthout. It will be my first race since the operation, so I feel like I am starting again, though hopefully this time I will be able to race through to the end of the cross season. I will put my cyclo-cross program on this page in the next couple of days....

 

27/11/03

Sorry for the delayed race report from the 4th round of the National trophy in Mallory Park, Leicester.  I managed to get my first cyclo-cross win of the season but that has been overshadowed by the need for another operation on a troublesome abscess. 

27/11/03

I had my operation Wednesday under General anesthetic to remove an abscess from my sitting region! The surgeon said it went well and there should be no further operations needed. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope to be back in training within the next few days. I will keep you posted.

24/11/03

Last weekend was extremely busy. The drive back to the UK Friday was not too bad until I hit the reality of the M25. It is a while since I have seen traffic like that! On Saturday I was a guest speaker at the association of British coaches. It was great to see people I have grown up with in cycling. I only hope they were interested in what I had to say!

I was getting really worried about the race Sunday as it had been pouring with rain for the last few days, bearing in mind last years conditions (very wet and muddy) I was preparing myself for a hard slog. When we left home it was still pouring but to my relief  the weather improved as we went North! I could feel it as soon as I started to warm up on the circuit I was not going to be on a great day. I felt jaded, probably due to the traveling. I was also a little bit worried about how technical the circuit was. With only 1 weekend really off road I am still a bit nervous in the corners. I got a good start which after Vossem's disaster I was pleased with and was able to settle down into a good rhythm. After a lot of  attacking I eventually went clear with Jody Crawforth and a Belgian visitor Geert Vandaele. I saw that Geert was suffering to hold us so I really only had to look out for Jody. He was very quick in the technical sections but the hard sections I felt comfortable. With about 3 laps to go it started to rain and the surface got really slippery. On a tricky right hand corner I slipped and fell, losing about 5 seconds to Jody. On the next long drag I was able to close the gap but another silly mistake on the next corner  meant Jody could pull away again. For the next lap I worked hard at closing the gap but was really having to take it easy in the corners as the the conditions were deteriorating. Tyre pressures are critical in cross. At the weekend I decided to go  for slightly hard tyres as last year I had an impact puncture in the same race costing me a chance of the win. With the higher pressures I was slipping all over the place. I fell again with 2 laps to go which allowed Jody to pull out an 18 second lead, but also meant I was joined by Nick Craig who was going really well in the tricky sections as he had changed tyre tread giving him more grip. Fortune smiled on Nick and I as Jody punctured. We caught and dropped him, as Nick tried to drop me in the last few slippery corners. I managed to hold on to the finishing straight where I was able to use my road experience and come round Nick for the win. It was a great to win, especially knowing I have to have another operation Wednesday on my troublesome abscess.

19/11/03

I didn't race last weekend, preferring to stay at home and train. It worked out quite well really as the weather here has changed dramatically over the last few days, to being very wet. The weekend off gave me the perfect opportunity to practice riding in mud up to my ears. It is quite disconcerting to have both wheels sliding round a corner for the first time in 9 months! Great fun though! I will be back in action in the UK this weekend. On Saturday I will be speaking at coaching conference, then Sunday, I will compete in the 4th round of the National Trophy in Mallory Park, Leicester

9/11/03

I rode my first cyclo-cross today. It was a real shock to the system. It is quite difficult to compress all my efforts into 1 hour after having spent the whole summer trying last for 6 hours! The  vlaamse witloofveldrit is  renowned for being really hard. There is virtually no flat and very little road sections. Fortunately it has been good weather for the past few weeks, which meant the fields were still dry and hard otherwise it would have been a real slog, for me at least! With  the  sun shining, thousands of people turned out to watch and being the local rider I was receiving loads of support! I was up against it from the start though as I was on the 4th row (due to my world ranking), with the start straight up hill I would have had to go really deep into the red to move up, so instead I decided to just hold my position and see how I went later. I was reminded how important the start is in a cross immediately. Riders were taking enormous risks, ripping spokes out on other people derailleurs, crashing all in the first 300 meters! The first 2 corners were technical enough that only the first 10 riders got round before the rest of us had to dismount, so I lost time but it was a good reminder it is worth the effort in the beginning. From then on the race settled down, with the group strung out due to the high speed, though this didn't last long. Even by the end of the first lap the group began to split, I found a good group that, at times I was struggling to hold and others I was pushing them. Mostly I was trying to find a pace I could hold for 1 hour! For a change we were catching people, which was good for my moral. With 2 laps to go Tim Van Nuffel and Nico Clarisse attacked our group I went with them but on a steep decent I lost concentration for a split second and crashed. I winded myself momentarily, but more importantly lost my rhythm and the 2 guys in front! I struggled round the last 2 laps to finish 29th from 65 starters. I was quite pleased as there were most of the best riders in the world at the start and the time gap to the race winner Bart Wellens (world professional champion) was not that much. I am looking forward to my next race in Mallory Park on the 23rd now!

30/10/03

Just to let you know. The build up for next year has begun! I have been asked to start the vlaamse witloofveldrit, in Vossem Belgium on the 9th November. I will be there as it is my local race, but with only 10 days training, I am not expecting too much! I will let you know how it goes

12/10/03

The worlds are over! The race was incredibly hard. 258km on a 12km circuit, with 2 climbs-per-lap. I think the circuit was too hard really as the race took a long time to get going. Everybody was worried about going too early and blowing up on the last few laps. With only 4 riders allowed to start from Great Britain we were a little bit limited to how much of an impact we could make on the race. Charly and I were designated to go with the early moves while Max Sciandri and David Millar were to wait for the latter stages before showing their cards. I went with a few moves and was very attentive in the beginning but Italy, the strong favourites with Bettini and Di Lucca, controlled everything. They didnít allow any breaks of more than 3 riders go clear, and on that circuit such a small group was suicide! Typically the speed just gets faster as the worlds goes road race goes on, this year was no exception. About half way it was clear no breaks were going to get any significant advantage so I decided to hide in the bunch and try and recover and save myself for the last few laps. The racing really began in last 5 laps, with the attacks coming thick and fast. I was starting to get pain in my hamstrings with 2 laps to go. I wasnít sure what was causing it, as I have never felt it before. I managed to hold on to the remainder of the bunch until the penultimate climb with 10kms to go! It was so frustrating to cramp on the last lap. I can only imagine it was from not drinking enough. I had noticed I was sweating a lot during the race due to the humidity even though it wasnít too warm. Each lap was so hectic through the pits I missed my bottles quite regularly, though I didnít think it was too decisive.

On the last lap 9 riders went clear, and if I had held on I would have been sprinting for 10th place, which was taken by Tombak, who I had sprinted against in the finish of Paris-Bourges only last Thursday. It was a lesson learned, plus a huge confidence boost as, now I know I can ride a major championship on a hard circuit like that. Canít wait for next season now!

 

For now I will take a couple of weeks rest before starting my cyclo-cross training and the long build up for next year! I will try to get the rest of my web site up and running too!

2/10/03

Paris bourges was my last road race in Europe this year plus an important test of my form for the worlds. Normally this race is decided in the first 30kms so once again I went on the attack very early. I felt good so I was happy to go with everything. At about the 30 kms stage there were gaps beginning to appear in the peleton. I managed to get clear with about 15 riders, it looked promising, a lot of teams represented. Gaumant (cofidis) decided he wanted to drive the break clear and did a massive turn on the front, when he pulled over there was only 2 of us left! We decided to carry on but with the amount of wind it was going to be a long day. A short while later we got news of Berges coming across, so we waited for him, as he is well known for his long breaks. With three it was still really hard, there wasnít enough recovery before being back on the front. The peleton also never sat up so our lead was hovering around 30secs. Eventually we got some good news, OíGrady and Guesdon had gone clear of the pelteton and were on the way across. We eased again and waited for them. With 5 in the front now we were able to increase our advantage on the peleton. We built a maximum lead of 2min 30, but the bunch never gave up. As we hit the hilly zone of the race I knew it was crucial to keep a good lead over the bunch on the first climb otherwise they would be encouraged and catch us on the next 2 climbs. We went hard, but not hard enough! We lost 45 secs and that was enough! On the 2nd climb 16 riders went clear from the peleton and were rapidly closing. We tried to accelerate in the front, trying to get over the last climb before being caught. As it happened the worst-case scenario happened, they finally made the junction at the foot of the climb, but the peleton were not far behind so they the Ďfresh ridersí were really driving! I was able to hold on, with Berges but the rest of our original quintet was dropped. From then on it was about taking risks. There were attacks going left and right, impossible to cover them all, especially with the painful legs that I had! With about 15kms to go 3 riders went clear. I was hoping that would mean a team with a few riders in the remainder of our group would chase and nobody would attack anymore. I think the others were suffering as much as me, and the attacks continued, right to the finish. In the end I found myself sprinting for 6th place with Baden Cooke and Janek Tombak. I had to settle for 8th! I was quite pleased really as it was a long day in the front. I hope I can keep this form for the worlds. I leave next Monday it is quite a while since I have flown long distance. Iím hoping this late in the year I can still recover quickly from the time zone change and traveling!

28/09/03

I decided to gamble today. Hoping that, after 3 days of hard racing, the peleton would be tired and not react and perhaps the break would stay away to the finish. Once again after a frantic start a group started to go clear. I could see the peleton was starting to loose interest so I decided it was time to go. Actually I waited too long, I didn't take into account my cold muscles and started to suffer half way across. Fortunately Tristan Hoffman jumped across to me and together we finally joined the break to make a total of 15 in the front. The strongest teams in the race were represented so I was optimistic, but worried.... There  were 3 riders from Bankgiro in the break and too many riders from 1 team always causes problems . However, the break worked well together  and we quickly built a lead of 2 minutes. That was the furthest we got though. First Plankaert (Cofidis) started to sit on, which prompted more riders to stop working. There was no way we would survive like this as Team Bianchi had already started to chase, so the only solution was to attack and try and get a smaller, but more determined group clear. Eventually, Hoy (Facta), Voscamp (Bankgiro), Baguet (Lotto), Cretskins (Quickstep), Bracke (Landbouwcrediet) and myself got clear from the remainder of the break. By this time the peleton had reduced our lead to 40 secs. We rode flat out for 20 kms but the long straight roads meant we could never get out-of-sight and we were caught after about 90kms. Now it was about survival for me! I hid in the middle of the peleton for a while, trying to eat, drink and recover as much as possible for the finishing circuits. The circuit was very hard with a climb each lap and a lot of wind. It was very good training for the worlds. I finished in what was left of the peleton, so all in all I was pleased with my form. My team mate, Bert Roesems was caught 70 meters from the finish, but managed to hold on for 4th place.

27/9/03

Well it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be! On the way to the start it looked as though the first 90 km would be cross wind, then the rest head wind. Meaning a long ride home if the race split into several groups! A group did get away in the beginning but too many teams were not represented so eventually everything came back together. There were constant attacks and eventually 4 riders got clear. Lotto started to chase. Once again the peleton came together for a bunch sprint. I fared better than yesterday but still felt the risks were too high. Tomorrow is the last stage. Not my favourite stage, 2 years ago my handlebars broke in the last 2km, leaving me with a broken wrist! I'm hoping for better luck tomorrow!

26/9/03

Today's stage was incredible in the beginning, the peleton was going so fast and the roads were very narrow and twisting. I had a lucky escape, I was sitting about 30th in the group as we came round a blind right hand turn, onto a very small road with a 5cm drop off the the sides. Christian van Der Velde dropped off the edge 5 places in front of me, in the panic to get back up onto the road he caught his front wheel and crashed heavily. I had one choice, to follow him, I had to drop off the road too. At 60 kph I wasn't too confident of staying upright either! I managed it but for a while I was shaking! The stage came down to a bunch sprint. I was sitting perfectly with 800 m to go, but it wasn't to be. A wave of riders came over me on the last corner and I got boxed in. In the end I finished 14th. Tomorrow the stage passes through the mooren, famous for the cross winds - it promises to be another long and hard day!

25/9/03

Today was the 1st stage of F-B. I was feeling much better so I am happy with that. Now I have to get my confidence  back to start winning again, hopefully! The race was not very eventful today, eventually a group of 10 guys got away with 2 riders from Bankgiro. They used their advantage to win the stage. I finished in the main group. Tomorrow the stage is fairly flat but the weather forecast predicts a lot of wind, a typical Belgian day! Could be a dangerous day for the classification. Will let you know how it goes!

21/09/03

I have just got home from GP Isbergues. It was a long day, 250km each way in the car plus a 205km race! We rode poorly as a team again today. Failing to get someone in the early  break. We chased again, but in the end had to wait for help from other teams that had missed out. Once again it cost us a lot of strength.  Geert Omloop and myself made the final selection but suffered on the finishing circuits finishing in the 2nd group. I will leave on Wednesday for the Franco-Belge, then I only have 1 more race in Europe this season! 

18/10/03

GP Wallonie was very hard. Not much flat at all, perfect training for the worlds. I was once again bad in the beginning suffering terribly on the first 2 climbs. In the mean time a break went, with no-one from us in the front so we chased again! It did me good though as I eventually came round and started to feel part of the race. The race never really slowed and I paid the price for our efforts in the last 20kms. When the decisive group of 10 went I was not strong enough to go with them. I am not sure where I really finished as the last climb (3kms to go) split the groups most of us finished alone. This caused havoc for the organisers, who placed several riders who had abandoned and not gone over the last climb!

14/10/03

Paris-Brussels had to be shortened this year to comply with the rules of the UCI. It didn't make the race any easier though. I should paid more attention to the early signs. Bettini attacked on the first climb after only 10km. I am never good  in the beginning and the longer the season goes on the longer it takes for me to warm up! Needless to say I didn't make the break. The combination of the end of season syndrome and the shortened race distance  meant that was the last we (the bunch) saw of the break. We rode to the first feed zone (about 120km) where the majority of the riders abandoned, the rest of us rode on trying to get the kilometers in the for the world champs. It turned out to be a disaster as, a few minutes after the feed zone the commissars withdrew us from the race! Hence our police protection (rolling closed road), race service (spares etc) drove by! The last 30km of the race were in Brussels center, which wouldn't have been much fun on open roads. Fortunately the team cars from the Flanders-Iteamnova team (a Belgian 2nd Div team) waited at the 2nd feed and picked the rest of us up and Drove us to the showers. I did 175kms, which although wasn't what I had hoped it was good training.

GP Fourmies was hectic! From the start to the finish it was flat out! I think there were a lot of people there, who like me, had missed out the day before and wanted to make amends. Various breaks went but the constant high speeds meant they all came back. It looked as though it was going to be a bunch sprint so I made sure I stayed near the front for the finishing circuits. With about 10km to go I snapped a spoke, normally it is possible to carry on but the wheel buckled so badly it rubbed against the frame! I had to change it. I chased in the cars and eventually got back on 1.5kms to the finish. It was impossible to move up, so I finished in the bunch. A missed weekend! 

10/09/03

Today's race in Aartselaar was very hard! It is not very often I feel as bad as I did today. The bad weather didn't help, the first real autumn day, 12 C and rain! My main problem, however, was the lack of power! It was a bit disappointing after last Sunday's race to say the least. 

I have been suffering from a twisted pelvis since I fell on the second stage on the Tour of Denmark. Each week I have been getting myself straightened out at the Osteopath, which normally helps. It is the only thing out of the ordinary I have done this week so I am putting the bad day down to that!

The race went to its usual format, plenty of attacks in the beginning, but nothing really important until the first section of cobbles, after 74kms. With the rain the pave was treacherous and within 100m there were 2 crashes. With my bad form, I as too far back and got caught behind them, from then on I was chasing! The main part of the peleton reformed after the pave but a  group had gone with none of my team there, so we got on the front and chased!!! After a long hard chase we eventually got close enough for 3 of my teammates to jump across, for the rest of us it was race over. That group stayed away to the finish. Museeuw and Eekhout did their world champs selection no harm by dominating the race, only a last ditch effort 2km from the finishing by Vasseur could stop them. Catching them 500mts from the end he attacked immediately, this was good enough to see off Museeuw, but Eekhout was too strong and easily beat him in the sprint. I am off to Paris on Friday for Paris-Brussels, so I will take a couple of easy days and try and re-find last weekends form!

08/09/03

The weekend went quite well in the end, even after the frustration of Saturday. September is a very difficult month to predict how racing will go. Half the peleton are super motivated, trying to earn a contract for next year, the other half have already signed and are not too bothered! I am sure this was the reason for the strange race in Ronde Van Midden Zeeland, Saturday. The first attack gained 30 secs or so, we had 2 guys there so we were happy with the situation, but there were several teams not represented. None of them tried to chase, the result being the race was over for the peleton after only 1 hour of racing! We rode to the finishing circuit, where we were told to stop. Omloop was narrowly beaten into 2nd  place by Stephan Van Dyke (Lotto-Domo).

G P Jef Sheurens Sunday was another strange race but it worked out in my favour this time! The short sharp climbs combined with the twisting circuit are perfect for breaking the race up early. With this in mind I was went with everything in the beginning. However the speed was so high, 47km/h average , any breaks that did go were very quickly caught. About half distance I realised I couldn't maintain this effort, deciding instead to hide in the peleton for a while. In the last 30kms a break managed to get 1 minute, the biggest of the day. We had  Leukemans and Trouve representing us. I had to sit tight! Quick-Step had missed it so they chased, bringing what was left of the bunch back. From then on Lotto and Credit Agricol controlled the race for a bunch sprint. I chose Eeckhouts wheel as I had seen him go well over the last few weeks. In the last 300m his lead-out snapped his chain, we both got caught for a fraction of a second but it was enough for Thor Husvod to get a bike length, which neither of us could get back. I was happy to have got some form back and the 36 points for second!

05/09/03

Welcome to my diary pages. I will endevour to keep this page up to-date with my insights to the world of cycling from my point of view. Hopefully you won't find them too boring!