So one set of Classics are over and the next has begun.
Brabantse Pijl saw the return of the skinny guys and the hibernation of the big dudes. These days there are no Sean Kellys kicking about so we don’t normally see many guys challenging for the win in both sets of classics. Tom was in fact due to race on Sunday in Amstel Gold but unfortunately a niggling injury has ruled him out. After 5638 km of racing and 35 race days he is now the ‘most raced’ rider of 2012. I guess he deserves a bit of a break now, yeah?
I guess we have to talk a little bit about Sunday. The OPQS guys where once again a pretty special unit. I guess my prediction was right. Firstly Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, at just 21 years old the youngest rider in the World Tour, and according to the Belgians, the ‘next Tom Boonen’, fought his way into the breakaway and made sure we didn’t have to do any unnecessary chasing early on in the race. After that, we had Chavanel, Boonen, Terpstra, Trentin and Steegmans all in the first group after the Arenberg forest – no mean feat.
Soon afterwards, we were dealt a couple of heavy blows when we lost some guys with flat tyres and crashes but eventually all of a sudden there were two guys riding away from the rest and they where both wearing OPQS jerseys. I can tell you now I’m pretty sure it was never part of the plan to ride the last 50kms solo for Tom but he was put in a situation where he had no choice. He didn’t need to attack, and in fact he didn’t attack. He was just riding his own tempo and all of a sudden he had a small gap, and after a bit of frustration at the negative riding behind him he put in a small acceleration and they never saw him again.
I guess the guys from Team Sky played the tactic to leave him out there for a while, let him fry and bring him back closer to the finish. At one moment it looked like it would work out, but after 240 km of racing the real strong guys start to shine and the strongest guy already had a minute’s advantage. Chapeau once again Tom! Last week he played it cool, did everything right and played on his sprint. This week he didn’t have to win, he had nothing to lose, and he threw it all on the line and won with brute strength, determination and pure character. He is for sure the best spring Classics rider of our generation and I am so proud to be riding along side him in this team.
So how about me? My short break seems like a distant memory and I’m now into my second phase of the season. It looks like I’ll be starting the Tour of Romandie in just under two weeks time and then some more fights against the dreaded gravity soon afterwards. This is always the time of year I seem to dread: time to shift some kilos and train, train train. I’m not really one for training to be honest; I love riding my bike and I live for bike racing but training and looking at numbers is usually not my thing, and to top it off I like my food! So starvation mode has commenced, the hours, watts and heart rates have increased and I’m well on my way to being in some type of shape for my next races. As always, when I have some heavy blocks of training to do I head out to Girona in northern Spain. I absolutely love it here, a perfect network of roads, masses of climbs and some pretty cool company to go pedaling with makes it my training venue of choice. For most of the dudes here its home, but when I arrive here I automatically slip into training camp mode and I’m quickly into the groove of eating, training, not eating and sleeping.
I’m here for a little under two weeks, just enough time for 3 x 3 day blocks on the bike, mostly going uphill, in a world of pain and nine times out of 10 pretty hungry! It all seems grim and hard work now but I’m sure it will be all worth it in a few weeks time when, if all goes to plan, I’m fighting fit and in the best shape of my life. I’m sure you all feel so unbelievably sorry for me! I mean, who would want to head out to Girona and ride his bike in the beautiful countryside and sun for two weeks and get paid for it? It’s a hard life!
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