What a week. Two double days back to back, and then 2 longer stages at Ronde Van Antwerp.
The prologue went well for me, it was raining all day and the course had a few corners in it. The first one was a brick road type corner 200meters from the start, the second was a tricky right hander with sand in it; and the third one was cobbled. Luckily enough it was wide enough that you could ride straight threw it and the start your turn. I ended up top 40 which is solid for a guy who's never on a TT bike. All the times were super close, so I wasn't really that far off.
Being that it was a double day, I thought we were going to head back to the place we were staying to refresh and grab new cloths. NOPE. All I had was a wet long sleeve skin suit and a jersey. I felt like an idiot telling Noel that I had forgot a second kit. Luckily he was in a nice enough mood to get the mechanic to drive me to the Hostile where we staying. It wasn't close at all, and there was construction and a miscommunication on directions. Long story short, I made it to the start with less than a handful of minutes.
With all the nervous energy built up I road well and was able to stay at the front for the whole race. With it still raining and guys going completely bananas for the sprint, I bowed out to save my life.
The next day consisted of a short RR in the morning and the TTT in the afternoon. An early break went and the leaders team was at the front setting tempo to bring it back and some guys were up there getting in the way and pissing people off. After a while I was not to comfortable sitting behind it and wanted to get around it. So I started to move up and next thing I know BLAM! I'm on the ground. Once I gain a small sense of direction I start crawling to the edge of the road and BLAM! I get nailed by one of the bigger guys in the race. Now I'm really moving in to the grass and fall in to a ditch. I wait there a few second to wait for all the rift raff to stop and slowly drag myself out. Once I'm out I laid on my back and started taking deep breaths. I had no idea if something was broke or not, we were going pretty quick when I bit it, plus getting hit didn't help. I open my eyes and see the doctor standing over me. Close them back up and keep taking deep breaths. Next thing I know I hear Noel telling me to get up and put my helmet back on. I didn't want anything to do with the race, but Noel got me back on the bike and motor paced me back to the second group after another wheel change a K or so later. Still not all there I look at my body to asses the damage. Some blood, some major hip pain, and a rocking headache. I ended up top 30 in the stage.
After getting cleaned up and food in the gut it was time to switch gears and get ready for the TTT. Mentally I was done, but they guys around me were super ampted and ready to ride. Plus having Noel around made things that much easier. With only two short low speed practice sessions earlier in the week we set the new fastest time and ended up fourth. We were all jazzed about the ride and that really brought us together.
The night was a fun one with all the gifts from that mornings RR. Total damage was three nice chunks from my right knee, a small compression cut on my left knee, two more nice big bruises on my left hip and one big bruised ego. I woke up stiff as a board. Could barley get down from the top bunk of the bed. After talking with Chris our Soigneur <---that's spelled wrong and Noels wife, I jumped on the rollers to loosen up before we left for the race. I'm so glad I did that.
The 5th stage consisted of 4 big laps and 4 small laps. Not a whole bunch of wind but tons of tiny roads. Plan is to always stay at the front and watch for the splits. After only a few K I see a dutch guy fly over his handle bars and land on his head. That was way to close, especially the day after I go down. I move closer to the front and next thing I know we're on a small road barely enough room for five wide. Guys are attacking and coming back, coming and going, and I look to my left and see a guy flying up the left side and then there was no room. He bit the dust and on a small road like that it's either you were in front on the crash or your race was done. Luckily enough Myself and 3 others made it. The next 2 laps were full throttle to make sure this was the final split. Unfortunately for us Guy was knocked off his bike from behind when he slowed for one of the many crashed and separated his clavicle from in scapula. He's doing well, but wants to be on his bike. After the gap is nice and settled the tempo slows down. I was feeling bad all day and was lucky to be in the position I was.
While we were racing there was a horrific police motor cycle accident. A cop who was leading the race missed a turn and went to turn around and was hit by another cop. The worst thing I have ever seen. I'm the images will be in my head for a while. One of the guys had two compound fractures, one arm one leg. And the other was missing all of his teeth and some other broken bones. I give out my best wishes to these for risking everything just so I can race my bike. I hope they recover well and quickly.
There was another split in our group and three of us made that. Spencer, Chris and myself. Noel told us to lay low and not work so much, I had no choice my legs were toasty. Going into the last lap I started to feel a little bit better with all the adrenalin flowing threw me getting ready for the sprint. The guys had all the strength to give me a perfect lead out but I totally messed it up and ended up 20th.
On the way home my throat was feeling to good, it felt like something I had earlier this year. I didn't want any of it so I got some good syrup type stuff and gargled with salty salty water till I was about to puke. The next morning I woke up feeling better but not 100% mentally or physically. My body was achey and now my nose was all clogged up. Spencer told me I looked like hell, I told him I felt like it.
At the race I was getting ready as slow as a snail, not feeling any better. Today's stage was the longest of the week and probably one of the longest I've ever done. 190 k's. I didn't know what to expect with everything going on. I was mentally done and could barley left my legs over the saddle, but with kind words and smile on his face Noel pushed me on my way and it was time to race.
It looked like it was going to be cross wind all day but the wind never really picked up so separate the group. After 160 k's of racing we would come to three local laps with two cobble sections; on top of that it was raining with a little bit of hail. The racing was uneventful tell the circuits, and I started to feel better with some "easy" k's to warm up. I hit the cobble sections in perfect position. 1st. Once the section ended the attacks came hard and fast to the next section. This one caught me a little off guard being that I wasn't the first one to see the road. Next thing I know guys split and head for the dirt on the edge of the road. My first thought was "hey they can't do that". So I headed for the dirt path with them.
Guys were driving the pace after the second section to cause a split in the field. But no luck, so they kept the hammer down. The next time over the cobbles weren't so bad, as I knew what to expect. The chin was to the handle bars. The last time over the first set of cobbles I thought I was flying, but I looked over and guys started to fly by. WTF! I hear Sheldon yelling at me to fill the hole and close the gap. I was putting everything in to the pedals and slowly watching guys ride away. Lucky for me the cobbles were short and I closed the gap on the paved road. I was in full recovery mood and next thing we were on the second section of cobbles. I managed to keep my bike upright but missed the split. Twelve guys road of the front, Chris was in there so that took the pressure off. The last few K's were attack sit up, attack sit up as guys were attempting to get to the next group. By the finish line the group had over 20 seconds. I sprinted in for a top 30. Chris got 6th.
I was completely shocked on how I road. I was feeling good at the end of a long day, and a pretty rough week.
I ended up 11th in GC. With the strong TTT, and being at the right place at the right time for once all played into that.
I leave for Downers on Wed, Hopefully this nose thing will blow over quick, and I'll be feeling good come a week from now.
If you made it this far I congratulate you.