My first taste of Belgian Kermesse racing came at the Buggenhout Kermesse this last week. I was feeling a bit despondent with my riding after two back to back disappointing results in the last Belgacom XCO’s I had done; this in combination with picking up a head cold. I really needed a decent result to get my confidence back on the right path.
I wasn’t quite sure as what to expect with many of the famous stories of Belgium racing in the back of my mind. The circuit was pan flat; I kind of expected that, although it was to an extent what you may call technical. There were quite a few corners, narrow cement slab roads, a short section of cobbles and some sketchy road surface at points. This meant a lot of hard accelerations which start to take their toll later on in the race.
I approached the race conservatively and sat in the bunch for most of the duration of it. I did follow one or two moves in the later 25% of the race although nothing came of them. A split of about 15 riders went clear with 3 of the 16 laps to go and that was the move of the day. I finished safely in the bunch which doesn’t look fantastic on paper but personally helps a bit with the confidence. The 117km was covered in just over two and a half hours at an average speed of 43.3km/hour.
Tomorrow it’s off to Geraardsbergen for the final round of the Belgacom XCO series. It is a UCI category 1 race so should be tough as usual. Our start loop consists of the famous Muur of Geraardsbergen climb, the idea of riding it sounds cool but the actual deed may be a different story…