Friday, September 16, 2011

2011 Belgian Kermis Racing - Kluisbergen and Maleizen-Overijse


Saturdays race was going to be 11 laps of a 10 kilometer course. I don't really have much to say about this one – the weather was warm (30+ Celcius), reasonably strong winds but a pretty boring course. Pan flat (despite being within one kilometer of the Koppenberg!), multiple 90 degree bends on small well surfaced roads. It started fast, stayed fast, eventually some groups got away and I was in a group riding for 24th.

Maleizen – Overijse Kermis

My final day of racing in Belgium – indeed, it would be my final road race of the season (I am finishing off the season with two more mountain bike races – the Irish Marathon Championships and a UCI race in the UK). The weather was a mixed bag but by the time I got to signon it had started to rain and the rain would stay for much of the racing getting heavier for the final hour.

As I warmed up, I rode the first 3 kilometers of the course before returning to the start – it was rolling and looked cool. Two AnPost riders were present, Philip Lavery and Kenny Terweduwe so it was nice to have some familiar faces in the race.

The race didn't start quite as fast as usual, well at least until half way around the first lap. We descended a short fast descent, rounded a corner and I could see a dark tree lined tunnel in front of me. The peleton accelerated and we hit the first cobbled section, a shallow climb, at full speed and one long line. The climb was short enough but it still needed 750 Watts for 40 seconds bouncing around to keep my position. A short reprise and then another cobbled twisting section followed by a descent, a sharp corner and more cobbles – this time a gradual climb. After a long wind swept straight we were back at the start of the 10 kilometer lap. This was the coolest course I'd seen all trip.

With the tough conditions (rain and wind) and the tricky course, I made sure that I was in the first few riders for the complete race. Groups would come and go but by the end of the second lap a break of six had formed (with AnPost's Kenny) that would stay away – I was so pissed not to be there, I was riding strong and felt great. The peleton (around 70 started) would get smaller and smaller per lap as riders were popped off the back (I made sure to be in the first couple of riders on all the technical sections each lap driving it to make sure our group keeps reducing). On the fifth lap, we had cut down the lead of the break to around 10-15 seconds but some stalls (as riders where getting themselves ready for the counter attack) meant the gap went out again and they stayed away.

There wasn't a dull moment in this race (well, maybe the long windy section back to the start/finish) and the laps flew by. Entering the final lap (after many many small chase groups went and were brought back), we could see the break not much in front, it was under a minute (although as I found out later, there was another rider, the race winner, further ahead). After the first cobbled climb, I made a break for it and was joined by two other riders, we worked well together and got within 20 seconds of the break but got pulled back with two kilometers to go. As we were caught, the remains of the peleton (about 25 riders) stalled and the break extended the lead again. I made another effort to get away for the sprint for 6th (some riders in the original break were dropped) but got caught and passed by 12 riders before we got to the line finishing in 18th. In the end, we were 25 seconds behind 2nd place – the winner being another minute up the road riding a pair of Lightweights (I wish I took mine to Belgium!)

Time spend in Power Zones - AC for me is 474+ Watts
345 Watts Normalized Power for the 2:40 race
This was a tough race, but the one I enjoyed most (yeah, I enjoy suffering!). Going to Belgium, I had some ideas of what the type of racing would be like – flat, lots of corners etc... That is true, but the style of racing, hugely aggressive, is right down my street – it is never easy and the strongest riders do best. The only thing is that I wish I went there earlier in the year!

Six one day races in eight days (started with the Richmond GP in the UK) - it was a great eight days!

I'll put up one more post about the mechanics/logistics of going to race in Belgium in a few days.

No comments: