After landing in Europe I was directly on the road working for the Men’s team for a while. First to the Eroica race in the middle of Italy. Run on dirt roads, like the classics of old, we had a good race. I was on truck driving/hotel duty so missed the whole thing. Photos
Next up was the Terrino-Adriatico Tour. A seven day tour with the likes of George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Thomas Lovquist etc. This was great as we were going well in the GC, right until the TT when our main rider, 2nd on GC, Linus Gederman crashed out in the TT breaking his Tibia (top of the shin bone), but we had Thomas in 3rd place, this he kept until the end, and we also won the teams classification as well. I got to follow and coach my favourite modern day rider in the TT, George had a good run, no problems on the bike though, except he was not fast enough on the day. A bad crash in the rain on the last day, put a couple of the lads out as well, but they were ok, the bikes suffered a lot though. The food was fantastic though, and some of the countryside I had not seen before, so that was pretty cool, a new part of Italy to discover. Photos, #1, #2, #3
Then right to the middle of Holland for Ronde van Groen Hart, for a very cold nights work. Here I recorded on my hands, a temperature of -7’c. snow was falling on me as I washed the few bikes that were dirty still. Washing the car in the morning was great, once I got rid of all the ice of it first, but the snow kept away until they started racing. I was holed up at the finish, getting ready for the return of the bikes, Rain, hail, snow and sunshine the riders experienced, all in one race. They were so lucky, as I watched the race from a hot café, with not too bad coffee.
Next day the cold weather continued, with snow falling throughout the night in Cologne. Morning broke with a bit of fine weather for the Rund um Koln (around Cologne), but as soon as the cars were washed, and the bikes loaded on top, the snow came down. And snow it did, what a pleasant sight, the bikes looked so pretty, all covered in snow on the cars. The riders were not looking too happy, as the roads would be pretty dangerous for a race of about 200km. The organisers postponed it an hour at first, then two, then cancelled it all together. First time in 100 years, so it was pretty bad for them. The moment they made the decision to cancel, the sun came out, things dried up and it was a beautiful day again. We still had to clean the bikes and all the cars, so it was just like they raced anyway. Photos
Two days of the Criterium International in the north of France was next. This was near the Belgium border, and a somewhere I had not raced before. With a double stage to finish on, we took the stage win with Bosan-Hagen and second with one of the other boys (oops I forgot who), a nice 1-2 finish. This was in the battle fields of WW2, so there was plenty of cemeteries we passed along the way, sad really the amount of death around here, but that’s War for ya. Photos
That was the month of March, so think I had one day at base to relax for the afternoon, then April started. More races with the men, and into the classic’s season, in Belgium and Holland.
A small Tour to warm the lads up called ‘Three Days of De Panna. In the north coast of Belgium, fast and dangerous three stages, two road and a TT from memory. Plenty of crazy cycling fans to deal with, crowds are not something you have to handle with the Women’s racing, but sure beats fighting the crowd to do your work. Photos
A warm up for Flanders saw us race the ‘Het van het Mergelland’, with no real results. But it was all training for the big ones.
Flanders, another race I always want to see, let alone work was next. This was crazy, with thousand of punters watching the race from every possible position they could find. I was in the second car, racing from cobbled section to cobbled section, running to a good spot and waiting for the race to come through. We had a third car doing the same as well, and a few thousand crazy Belgium fans doing the same thing. It’s a race itself, to see the race as many times as you can, we managed about 12 stops and passing of the race. Man it was pretty tight in places, and we missed one spot we were supposed to be. This is a story in itself, this I will write about I think some other time. The girls race the same course of course, this you will remember from other years. And our team won this one with Judith taking out the win for the Team. What a blast for the girls, as this is a biggy for the year. Photos
Gent-Wevelgem was next. Here I was hotel bitch for the day. We had two mechanics in the race, and I had quite a bit of work to do for a couple of up coming races. Some wheels to build and a few tyres to glue as well. But we had a good race, and there was no mishaps on the day, nice.
Finally back with the girls for a few weeks. But first a few days in the service course (team base) for some bike building, a few TT bikes for the upcoming stage races, and a bit of track testing in Buttigen, just up the road. Six of the girls were meeting for testing at a indoor track. A few modifications on the bikes, a bit of position tuning, and a lot of messing around to go with it. But it was successful, the bikes were all dialled in, now a few days finishing them off, and my week off, turned into one day off. We have had a new truck being built up for the big tours for the Men, so a bit of work inside one of them hanging wheel racks etc for a day or two took the other spare days I had left. Photos
A Couple of weeks on the road with the girls saw us stop in the top of Holland for a race Called ‘Gelderland’. A small race, and not too much happened either. Then another World Cup race ‘Fleche Wallone’, in Belgium. Raced on the same day as the men just like Flanders. Except this time we got a second or third with Judith, it was a pretty messy race, so we were lucky with that at least. The men had some great results with Kim Kirchen winning, it was a great result for the boys, and the whole team really.
A couple more smaller races, Borsele in Holland and then back to Rosalare in Belgium. Not much happening here, with a third with Ina in Boresele, and a third with Kim in Belgium. We did the best we could in both of them, but it was all we could muster up. The team worked well together, and it was some pretty good training for the up and coming tours.
That was all of April done, and straight away I was off to Switzerland for a couple more races before meeting up with the Men’s team again. A TimeTrail was first in the Sion area, just north of Geneve. Here the men were also doing the same course, part of the Tour of Romandy. They have a invitation race for the Women, called Magalie Pache. Here some of the Worlds best TT experts were racing. We had Judith and Oenone racing, it was a tough field they were racing against, so it was not going to be easy. The course was flat for a bit, then it just climbed straight up a mountainside, then down. We raced, think Judith was 5th and Oenone was tailing at last position. Oh well, she won it a few years back, so we know she can do it. Photos
Then all the riders and us headed off to Bern for another world cup race. This was getting serious, race number 6 out of 10 in the series. The team was looking pretty good, with all the serious girls booked in to race, as we had another team racing in the Czech race ‘Gracia’ in Orlova. We fought hard, as there was a big climb right from the start. The race split on the first lap, and the field was smashed to bits on the very first lap of 4. We had some great results, with Judith getting a second place. This brings her into the World Cup leaders jersey, for the first time in her career. She was pretty happy, and so was the rest of the team, and of course so was I. As the bikes were perfect once again. Pics
It was a good time to leave the girls on such a high note. I now leave them for another month or so and join the men. In fact, directly after the race, I boarded a train for Geneva, here a car was waiting to pick me up for a trip to Italy. Here we meet up in Genoa with the Truck, Bus and three other cars, and a transporter van. We then all jumped on a ferry, with about ten other teams for the trip down to Sicily for the start of the ‘Giro d' Italia’. The second biggest tour in the cycling world, and my favourite race of all time. This brings us to the current day, where we just raced the first stage earlier today. But that’s another story. Photos
With thanks to Cycling News for the race reports.