Brabantse Pijl

28Mar09

On the eve of Brabantse Pijl (translated as The Arrow of Brabant) I have began to think about where I have come from as a cyclist and how to win a bike race. Now for me to win on Saturday would mean being very very lucky and turning up and being on an awesome day in awesome condition. Guys like Alan Davis and Gert Steegmans have been named as favourites for the race.

The race ascends 15 hellingen (hills) on its way from Leuven (local drinking hole for the team and just so happens to be where Stella Artois is brewed) to Brussels. These are Belgian hills which means they are short, steep and usually on small back roads. The fact that they are on small back roads means you need to be up the front of the pack because you will come to a stop at the base of climbs. Often the run in for the climbs can be harder than the climb itself. The road often then spends time on a flat open ridge before dropping down the other side. This means chasing wheels in crosswinds when you already have lactic up to your eyeballs. Hence rule 1 of professional cycling: Always ride at the front.

Nico with the media

Nico with the media

In the cars for a bidon

In the cars for a bidon

My first race was the Phillip Island GP in B grade. Looking back now it was probably one of my best races tactically. I waited and waited for the right time. I kept myself out of the wind yet up the front. Even when the road turned I made sure I would move so I was still out of the wind. And I watched. And then I went and went hard. It was probably premature but I was committed and by the finish I was still away by myself.

Too be totally honest since then I have probably become to cocky and too strong and not thought about what I am doing or not doing in races and not having a clear plan. A very smart man once told me to learn from every loss but too learn more from every victory. It may have taken a couple of years but I think I have learnt something from my very first race that is going to help me moving forward.

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