The academic workload over the last week and a half was a bit more than anticipated and I wasn’t fully focussed on the racing as I spent hours at my desk finishing off assignments and submitting them in dodgy internet cafes (however these days are over as we now have internet at our flat 🙂 ).
First up was the Malmedy Mountain Cup, another UCI category 1 event. The course has previously been used to host the Belgium National Championships and after squeezing in a practice lap the morning before the race I could understand why… steep climbs took the total ascent of each lap up to 280m in just over 5km and even steeper technical downhill’s to bring us back down.
I had picked up a bit of a sore throat after Averbode in addition to allergies from the lovely Belgian spring air (don’t you just love pollen?).
Come race morning it felt like it had mainly cleared up, so I decided to go and race.
Malmedy Mountain Cup
Photo Credit: Ludo van der Put
I felt I started fairly well up the first climb on the start lap and was sitting in the top 15 riders. The wheels started falling off after the 1st full lap and by the 3rd lap I had decided to call it a day. I’m glad I started though as I became more confident and smooth on the downhill’s as I did more laps. The one practice lap on this course was definitely not sufficient and not being 100% on the gas didn’t help either.
I put that behind me and hit a fun filled week of assignments!
Next up on the programme was the Ardennes Trophy Marathon in La Reid. Another race in the southern region of the country, which meant some more climbing. And climbing there was, 2400m of ascent in the 90km race. No passes or anything, I think the longest climb may have been four kilometres long, but most of the climbing was done between 15-20% gradient on quite rough track.
I played my best “the lady at registration said it would be fine for me to start in the front group” card to try and get near the front for the start. Although some of the French speaking marshals’ didn’t understand I was eventually allowed through to start at the back of this group.
Luckily, I thought, the first couple of kilometres were on tar roads… Not so lucky when they are narrow country lanes. A bit of pushing and cutting through and I managed to make contact with the front split not too long into the race. This was short lived as I fell victim to the ever increasing speed.
I tried to settle into a group but it just wasn’t happening. I fell down into the 30’s after the first hour of the race. With fresh bottles from Gerry I felt a bit more revived and set out with a fresh mindset. I rode back up into the high twenties again. After a few mid pack duels with a few guys along the way it just wasn’t my day. A puncture 10km from the finish confirmed this and was made worse when I couldn’t find my tyre levers.
Anyway I eventually got to the finish and if nothing else it was a solid day training. Up front Kevin took a very convincing win and won himself a 1.5l bottle of beer!
Next up for me will the another Belgacom XCO race taking place in a town called Boom this weekend. It looks like I will have my road bike next week which will mean I will be doing some Kermesse races too.