Sunday, September 11, 2011

2011 Belgian Kermis Racing - Assebroek

After racing two days, I took a recovery day before I launched into another three days of Kermis racing. I rode around the Oudenaarde area following some of the roads from the Tour of Flanders and headed to Gent in the afternoon for a quick look around. A very pretty city but the weather was very 'Irish'.

Legs recharged, it was time for the Kermis in Assebroek.

This race was a little different than the other races in that it was more like a criterium – 24 laps of a 3.4 kilometer course around a town. Two pretty long straights but the main features were the corners. Technical, fast and cobbled. The most fun (and dodgy) section was a kilometer stretch in a damp forest (on tarmac) that had a few tight corners but led you to a sharp right hand wet cobbled corner onto a 200 meter section of rough cobbles. Every single time in the race, the cobbled section was a full out sprint.

The race started fast (as usual) and for the first 40 minutes I was racing like a pleb – I was way too far back in the bunch and had to make huge accelerations on each corner. I felt I was about to blow! An hour in, and the front group was still together – a lot of riders had been dropped but the front was still around 50 riders. I now stayed around the front of the bunch, got comfortable and really started to enjoy the racing. Something clicked and I started to treat the corners as if I was on my mountain bike, stay light, let the bike do the work, and stay off the brakes – suddenly I was the one gapping the riders behind on each corner. Over the next hour, I was in most of the moves that went off the front, I stayed in the first 10 riders and although I was in the wind a lot more, it was a lot easier than what I was doing at the start of the race.

Like in Hulste, with 4 laps to go after a strong move I was in was brought back, a counter attack went with eight riders which became the race winning move. Over the final few laps, I tried to bridge but failed and came together for a bunch sprint (well, a majorly depleted bunch) for 9th.

Full gas or no gas...

Outside of the first 30 minutes (when I sucked), I really enjoyed this race. I have what it takes to win these things, I saw that very plainly – a little luck and a touch more Kermis experience is all I need. Me loving a pan flat criterium... oh, look, pigs flying outside...

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