So, after Le Samyn I was feeling pretty tired. With a race just a day away it was time to rest up and rest up hard! After a short transfer to our team’s hotel near Gent in Belgium, we stuffed our faces and grabbed a quick massage before bed. The next morning the legs were feeling pretty stiff and sore and I felt generally pretty nailed! That race was full gas! For the whole 4.5hrs it was non-stop action and general chaos, and my body was definitely feeling the effects.
With one day to recover in time for the start of the Three Days of West Flanders, every second was going to count. So with just over 24hrs before the start, how would we use these vital moments before we are pinning numbers on again??
After a good breakfast and a little bit of stretching and movement preparation we headed out for a short 1.5hr ride to our next hotel. Nothing exciting on the bike, heart rates and watts are kept to an absolute minimum as we just turn over the legs, get the blood flowing and try to loosen up a little.
Next we head to massage and a little more stretching. Mid afternoon we’re all once again hungry as the bodies are craving carbs to fuel our depleted bodies and repair the broken muscle fibres. It may sound crazy but before a race we try not too eat a ridiculous amount of carbs, especially bread which contains a lot of salt. The reason for this is to avoid that “blocked” feeling we have all had to endure at the start of the race. Our bodies only need a certain amount of carbs and salt, any more than needed and our muscles fill up with excess water retention and generally feel pretty crap!
So we’re fed and watered with the right amounts of carbs, proteins, salts etc and theres only one thing we all want to do! Get into our beds and relax! For me I try not to sleep as I don’t like to upset my sleep at night.
Before I knew it I was on the start line for my second time trial of the year! The first one in Qatar went pretty well so I was feeling pretty confident. It was a pretty straightforward course, 3km out a U turn and 3km back. It was a tailwind start so I wanted to make sure I didn’t go to crazy at the start. I hit the turn in a good position, feeling good with a good time. The night before I did a bit of DIY and made a visor for my TT helmet out a bit of plastic. It worked pretty good until I started to sweat and it totally fogged up! I could see about 10 meters ahead so it was a pretty nervous last 3km. I just couldn’t go hard with confidence and my race was as good as over! I had hoped for a top 10 finish but could only manage 30th Schoolboy error, don’t race with stuff you’ve never tried!!! Doh!
So day two was upon us and after 180km of typical Belgian carnage, cobbles, ridges in the road, crashes and the usual shenanigans, we were heading to the finish for a big bunch sprint. Our team contained two top sprinters in Mark Renshaw and John Degenkolb, so the pressure was more than on. 10km before the finish we grouped together and kept them out of trouble. 2km to go and my job was done as I drifted quickly back through the peloton with crossed fingers! It was a hard uphill sprint which proved perfect for the new kid on the block, Jonny Degenkolb! With 200m to go, he hit out and won his 2nd race of the year in just his first year as a pro! What a guy!
Day three was one to forget. A group of 20 went away early on with only one rider from HTC. So as you can guess we had a hard chase on hand, one that we didn’t win! There were a lot of strong guys in front including the first three on GC!! How did we let that go?? Yes I know, pretty dim day’s racing!
So we didn’t finish on a good note but we came away with a stage win for what was a pretty young team and a good three days’ hard racing in the bank!