Halle Ingooigem and National Championships
After Ronde de L’Oise I began to feel my legs recover and feel stronger as the days went by; a decent moral boost. Following months of setbacks and not feeling good on the bike it definitely was a welcome feeling to be able to pedal out for a training ride without thinking ‘uh oh’ and instead think ‘hmm not too bad’.
With this sense of growing confidence I raced Halle-Ingooigem, a race which holds a fair amount of prestige in Belgium. It involved 200km of rolling roads quite near to where I live. 5 finishing laps of the Tiegemberg and a fast finishing straight to the usually inevitable bunch sprint.
The break went early and FDJ settled in for a long day riding on the front for their sprinter Demare. Apart from the odd lapse in concentration resulting in a couple of crashes and a few times in which the race got suddenly lined out it was rather uneventful. Everything came together for a big sprint and I helped position Shane before flicking the elbow and going backwards rather quickly.
I then travelled to Ireland for the National Champs after Halle.
Before that however, I watched Belgium dominate at football, ate rather nice homemade banana cake with my teammates, fell asleep on a couple of sofas and spent a considerable amount of time lying on a deck chair on my roof. The weather in Belgium is marvelous at the moment.
It is fair to say that Nationals went well for the team An Post CRC.
We won the overall race with Ryan and Sean came second. Then in the U23 classement we came 1,2,3 with Ryan, Jack and me. All thanks to some pretty textbook team tactics. Jack, Ryan and Sean went up the road in the breakaway on the first lap, with most of the pre race favourites absent it put us in a strong position.
I then just sat on everyone who tried to bridge across and generally made a pain of myself in the chasing bunch. Up front Ryan was setting about destroying the bunch and clearing off solo for the last few laps; earning the jersey for the next 12 months! After a very dry run results wise it was great to get up on the podium with the team and enjoy a taste of success. We may have got slightly carried away with the champagne but at the same time you can never get too carried away with champagne.
Back in Belgium I hit reality in a massive traffic jam due to striking train workers. I then watched Belgium dominate at football once more, this time in the much more tense setting of Zottegem’s square. I have never seen the local town so busy, there must have been at least 2000 people watching the big screen. Belgium is going absolutely nuts about the world cup, it is quite exciting. After the second goal there were people dancing round a bonfire in the middle of the crowd.
Next up for me is U23 Europeans in Switzerland, hopefully I’ll be able to keep the momentum I seem to have gained and the legs will be good!