What really did happen that day?
To start with you study the U23’ers, Team Beaver talking race tactics… – Photo Pieter
Well to begin with Loke had had enough of the pits so he opted to hang out with Marja on cowbell and cheering duty. Dirk and Luc jumped in the pits to help out and get screamed at by me, and Pieter used his cover as team manager to hang out at the start grid and talk to famous people and ignore my needs.
The course had dried out a bit more but the swiss traverse section of the course was still mostly unrideable and would in fact prove to be a good spot to gain some places for the wise.
You wanna learn sneaky tricks? Hang out with the guy I am chasing, Joachim Parbo, you will learn a thing or two 😉 – Photo Tome Prenen
The weather was stunning and ended up being one of those days where you wished for once that you had a short-sleeved skin suit, my first ever race at this level where feeding was allowed in the pits. I found a short section of course where I could warm up a little, test my lines down the steep rutted descent, and get the blood flowing to my legs. Unfortunately I got a little sideways on the last round and almost ripped my front tyre off. Now because we have had a little sponsor difficulty here at the start of the season I only have 2 wheel sets and this now put me down to 1.5. No problem, still time, go to the pits, swap and then head to the start.
I had a good start. It would have been even better if Jonathan Page’s mechanics could tighten a quick release properly and he didn’t come grinding to a halt just a few riders in front of me. Still, no problem, I am used to working from the back. First turn a couple of places gained, second a couple more, by the time we hit the traverse then I was sneaking my way to more places than I had ever known in a WC before. By this stage I was rubbing shoulders with Yu from Japan and had almost the entire Italian team behind me. This was of course not going to last, but boy did I enjoy it while it did.
Now this is what I call a start! – Photo John de Jong
Unfortunately a few of the guys behind me proved to be in better shape than me and quietly made their way forwards, but I stuck it with Yu, Joachim and an Italian rider for a bit. But I had a few chain dropping problems which resulted in the derailleur being pulled out of alignment. This sent me screaming (literally) into the pit for the spare bike (with the dodgy front tyre). No problem, we just change the front wheels. This was done with much loudness from me, confusion from Luc and Dirk as to why I wanted the dodgy wheel, and then utter amazement as I managed to shoot out of the pit on the bike with no gears AND a bad front wheel on it. A couple of turns later I realized what I had done and with a little persuasion I re-aligned the derailleur again and rode carefully another half lap so that I could hit the pit again, get the good bike and wobble off for more pain and suffering on Cauberg hill.
Hated this hill – Photo Danny Zeleck
I REALLY hated this hill – Photo Tom Prenen
Still not lovin it… – Photo Dirk Bruylant
I don’t know where these two came from – Photo Pieter
Time to head back to the drawing board… – Photo Pieter
As mixed a race as I had it was still an amazing weekend!! Luc and Marja treated us like family the whole time we were there and on the last we all went out for an incredible and unforgettable dinner at their favorite restaurant in Sittard, Pretzels. Which if you are into whisky should without a doubt be on your bucket list (please don’t let the website put you off). Thanks to Luc, Marja, Pieter, Joost, and Kris for the high point of the weekend!! If the first day in Valkenburg left me wondering what I was doing there, the last day most certainly reminded me why I come back. I hope to see you all at the Hellcross!