Borssele UCI 1.1
Last weekend I rode a UCI race in Holland with a Dutch team Cervelo Goodzo. We went over on Saturday morning so we could get a ride out there before dinner. After 5 hours of traveling we arrived, got kitted up and went straight out on a ride. The week of warm weather had also hit Holland so riding in 20 degrees as the sun set was a luxury, bike lanes and lack of cars made this a great ride. On the plan was sprints and short efforts to activate the legs for Sundays race. We ended up riding to a sea side town called Domburg and back to Middelburg which completed our 1 hour ride.
We woke up leisurely on Sunday with the aim to leave the house by 11:15am so plenty of time for a big breakfast and a bit of organisation before the race. We arrived at the race at and got changed. It was warm. Like really warm. We met our team mate Sten Verzijl who was very nice and welcomed us well, as did their mechanic and soigneur. After going for a spin up and down the home straight we returned to the camper for a leg rub from the soigneur with some oil which was a new experience for me, Leo (Hayter) and Will (Raymond). Once signed on and gear checked we sat on the start line for 15mins. I was about 3 rows from the front. Leo, Will and Sten a few rows back.
The race started fast as the roads were flat and little wind. I got myself to the front within the first 5mins and sat in the first 15 wheels for a bit before being absorbed further back as we hit the smaller lanes. The first lap was about 60km so pretty much all of the roads were different which was a nice change from the Velodrome and short circuit racing in the UK. It was a pretty quick start with the speed closer to 50kph than the usual 40kph average. I was feeling great, just staying in the front third of the peloton as it slowly depleted. Eating was important but with the temperatures, staying hydrated was my main concern so taking sips regularly was a high priority. I got the 35-40km mark still feeling great, it was dusty and there was a fair bit of gravel on the road unfortunately this caused a rear puncture for me. Stopping quickly in a lay by I took out my wheel and prepared the bike for a spear wheel. The team car was quite far back but noticed me quickly and pulled in. A bit of faffing cost me a bit of time but I was back on the bike chasing in the cars shortly after. The dust was a lot more apparent around the cars and on the smaller roads. I was chasing for a fair while as a bunch going at 43kph is not easy to get back onto. It took ~ 15km before I was back in touch with the peloton, with little help from other team’s cars and only the occasional draft behind the Cervelo Goodzo car I had gone quite deep into the red.
About 2km after joining back with the bunch it really kicked off. We were coming around for the finish of the first lap and the bunch was splitting. I’m not sure exactly what was happening off the front but from what I had gathered there was a break of 6 or 7 with a fair margin. The bunch behind split and I was left chasing having only just recovered from my puncture. This was by far the hardest part of the race for me. Luckily Sten (Cervelo Goodzo rider) was in my group and so we gathered momentum with a few others and ended up bringing it back together for the most part. The next 25km were fairly chilled as there were only around 70 riders left in the front bunch out of the 130 that started. I was struggling for water as I missed a bottle as we went through the finish the previous lap. With the speeds so high for the whole lap it was hard to find a safe place to get one or even communicate this problem to people at the side of the road as the laps were so long. I shouted and ahead and got a bottle from another team which I was very grateful for and pushed on to complete the lap. The rest of the 2nd lap involved very hard efforts followed by a lot of freewheeling as people attempted attacks. I was still comfortable with the pace of the race but was struggling with water and food and finding time to consume enough. Coming into the finish for the second time I needed a bottle. I was quite near the back as I had slowed down a fair bit to try and ensure a successful exchange. Looking back on this I would have been better at the front or even further up as near the back I was dodging bottles on the ground whilst trying to locate someone that could give me a bottle. I spotted my dad by the side of the road and moved out to the side, another rider ahead had just received his bottle and moved left as I moved right, I clipped his rear wheel and came down along with a few riders behind. We were going upward of 40kph so it was never going to be nice but I was fine. My hanger was bent along with a punctured rear wheel and leg cramps kicked in whilst lying on the ground. This along with the fact the peloton had long gone by the time I was in a state to get back on the bike meant it was the end of the race for me. I haven’t had much experience of feeding in a race but I guess I have learnt the hard way and will put more time into organising good places to take on bottles but also getting myself in a better place in the bunch so I don’t have the extra worry of bottles on the ground in front of me.
Great ride by Sten who got in the winning break and came in 8th. Unfortunately Leo crashed early on and Will cramped up in the later stages of the race. But we all still had a good weekend!
Overall this was a great experience I learnt a lot and have gained confidence in my ability at this level of race, especially with a long effort back to the bunch after my puncture. I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t produce a result not only for me but for Cervelo Goodzo who have provided us with these great opportunities. However, I guess that is just bike racing and as always, I will try and come back stronger.
My next big race is Isle of Man National series on 4-6 May. I’m looking forward to this and hope to be feeling good.
Thank you to Pedal Potential for the continued support!