Zolder Kermesse

First race back after 5 months of no racing! We packed up the car in Girona and Matt drove me the 12hrs to Belgium so I could get the restart of the season going with Zolder Kermesse and the UCI 1.2 race, GP Euromat.

Zolder often ends in a bunch sprint as it’s on a fast race track, so the goal was to practice positioning, get some racing in the legs and contest the bunch sprint.

I hadn’t raced in over 5 months and my lungs sure reminded me of that fact! Scared of missing a potential break away or split in the peloton I followed essentially every attack. Once we got to the 60km/1.5hr mark I realised just how tired I was and racing again sure was a shock to my body. Noting that despite all the attacks girls were launching, nothing was getting away, I let myself settle in the peloton and recover for what I assumed would be a bunch sprint in 40km’s time. It started to get dark and we were all wondering when they might turn the lights on! Realising it could be a bit unsafe in the peloton due to the lack of lighting, I moved myself up to the front of the peloton, just holding the wheels at the front to save energy, and avoid danger. As I did this, Alice Sharpe from the UCI team Ciclotel attacked on the left of the race track , while simultaneously there was a crash 2nd wheel in the peloton, RIGHT in front of me!! Fortunately as I had already seen Alice’s attack, I had started to move left which meant I missed what ended up being quite a serious crash. Alice and I were joined by one other rider and managed to get a gap. Knowing the lighting was low I said we needed to gain a gap as fast as possible as it wouldn’t take much distance for us to be out of sight of the peloton.

Zolder often ends in a bunch sprint as it’s on a fast race track, so the goal was to practice positioning, get some racing in the legs and contest the bunch sprint.

There is a cycling rule that you should always be mindful of not being the one doing the most work in a breakaway. As I was so happy to be racing and desperate to get a result, I spent copious amounts of energy doing all I could to increase our time gap from the peloton, and motivate the other girls to help me commit to this break. Eventually we caught up to a rider who we thought we were lapping, however when she joined in the turns we realised she had in fact been up the road solo, without any of us knowing! it was a very welcome surprise, knowing we now had a break of 4 instead of 3, although a break of 4 doesn’t necessarily mean 4 will contribute!

There was a chicane 2.5k from the finish line where I noticed every lap the girls struggled to hold my wheel through. Noting this, on the final lap I tried to get away solo, however said rider who was wise enough to sit on the back of our break and conserve energy (i.e she raced smart), was very quick to use that saved energy to bring me back to the group. After using up plenty of energy by now, I knew a tactical sprint was going to be tricky. Alice Sharpe was the first to launch her sprint and instead of going all out right away I tried to time my sprint and save every watt I could by staying in her slipstream. Unfortunately due to the very limited lighting I couldn’t tell exactly where the line was, and came off Alice’s wheel just too late losing it to her in a bike throw.

Well, that’s what I thought happened. At the beginning of the race they explained in Flemish that the line we would be sprinting to was the first white line, not the second checkered finish line. Either way I was second and I was ecstatic. First race in over 5 months and in a field of 100 Europeans, 2nd is not where I thought I would be finishing that day!

A great confidence boost to tell me that hey, maybe you aren’t too shabby at this bike racing game after all 😉

Video of the sprint finish! Felt much darker than it looks!

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