20 August 2007

GP Gerri Knaterman

A few days off, cleaning and sorting out the bikes from the last week, time to get ready for the next race. The Giro de Italia is looming. The second biggest stage race of the year, and it’s serious. A few tubulars to glue, only about 25 this time around, a couple of bikes to build (TT), and the truck and other vehicles to organise and we would be on the road. We have just purchased a new van for the longer stage races and some of the smaller close to home races. Will be kind of nice, as it means that we can transport all of the riders, bike and equipment we need for the day in the van and one team car, instead of taking the truck to the start/finish towns. This will be great in some of the mountain top finishes, where even a small truck has great trouble negotiating the old narrow street. And it means the truck can stay parked up, and connected (power, water), and ready to work the moment we arrive home.

But before we leave for Italy, we have a small race in the north of Holland, and will head for sunny south Europe directly afterwards (at least 1120km south to Bordeaux for the night anyways). The GP Gerri Knaterman, a memorial race for a famous Dutch rider, in it’s second year now. Jean-Paul used to ride in the same team, and raced with and against him for years, so it is important for him be present himself and with the team in tow.

Mirjam getting the last bit of food into her before the run to the finish.

There was a full start line, as usual for Holland, with four laps of a very squirelly, and tight course, it was not going to be easy. We raced, and raced hard, for some of the gang it was their last preparation for the Giro in three days time. For me, I could not really concentrate as Italy and the Giro was on my mind. But I hang in there, but we had car number 24 in the caravan, and we could not see a single bit of the race. We did get to see the riders being dropped, not that that is any fun, but it was a start anyway. The race continued for another hour or so, then finally some action. After many attempts to breakaway from the bunch, we were successful with Mirjam. She has been in super form the last few weeks, and was just out to stretch the legs for the day, there was about 40km to go, so she would get a lot of stretching done today.

Almost there, with the bunch on two minutes, you can relax.

She raced hard, the bunch chased hard, but they were having trouble getting themselves organised. A few broke out and tried to make contact with Mir at the front, but to no avail, but they were caught by the bunch in no time at all. Mirjam was looking good out the front, lucky we could take the car from the back of the caravan, through the bunch to sit at the font of the race (when there is more than a minute between bunch and riders we get to move up to the break). She had her head down, was focused, and looking driven to win. It was a long road from recovery after her accident last year, so it was good to see her back in a good place again.

What a nice feeling having those arms back up in the air.

Well she managed to hold off the impending chasing bunch, it was a fantastic day for not only Mirjam, but JP (the husband and boss), the mechanic and the rest of the team, as she rolled over the finish to the roar of the crowd. You could read her body language as she was close to the line, we could all sense the joy and excitement on her face as she passed the line. The team was ecstatic with her being back on form, and to see her after her win, she couldn’t stop smiling. Almost a year of recovery, training, focusing, thinking etc paid off for her, congrats.

A quick pack up of the bikes and gear, and now the drive begins to the Giro, 1457 km to go, yeha.

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