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Moving on up: The Trent Wilson Journal 2003
Welcome to the Trent Wilson Journal for 2003. The young iTeamNova rider was one of the six who made the cut when the Australian Div III team merged with RDM-Flanders to form Flanders-iTeamNova, and move into Division II.
Show me the money... and the footy!
Rund um den Flughafen Köln-Bonn and Peace Race/Course de la Paix, May 4-17
Another month has almost flown by and June is near. No longer can you use: "its only early" as an excuse when the form is bad or something doesn't go right.
May started with a good result in Koln-Bonn, then the nine day Peace Race and now finishing off with some R&R. When I last wrote, I mentioned the form wasn't great and I was off to Koln-Bonn in Germany. Well, the form still wasn't great but I wanted to do something even if I wasn't travelling too crash hot.
It was also a day of change in pro cycling, as it was the last day you could race with no helmet as the new UCI rule was being brought in the very next day. A lot riders were already donning the helmet and there was no hint of riders being upset with the rule, unlike in Italy and France.
15th Rund um den Flughafen Köln-Bonn - 1.3
So the race started at a cruisy pace and everyone was keen to roll along. I was keen for an early break, but I'm never one to disturb a "piano session". Two riders attacked in the space of two minutes and I was keen but just needed a gee up. Scotty Guyton was there to give me that gee up, and in the end I cracked and attacked anyway.
The bunch started to react but didn't quite get to me, then sat up and let me ride away. At first I couldn't get going and I thought I was never going to get across to the other riders. I eventually came good and found a rhythm, picking up the rider from Comnet. We worked well together and shared the sprint and KOM sprints evenly.
The bunch had given us a 13 minute lead on them which was no worries to them in this heat and the hilly conditions; they were always going to catch us. The third rider had the brains to sit two mins ahead of us for the next 40km, he was obviously strong, but by the time we got to him he was cooked. We continued with the gap coming down all the time as they started racing hard at the back. I dropped my two companions on one of the KOM's and continued on to pick up the next two KOM's, knowing that I had won that competition.
Then a group of 15 guys caught me, with Alby [Iacuone] in there looking good. I was nailed but hung in there till the next sprint. I won that sprint and that meant also the overall in that competition, then I tried to hang on.
At the 140km mark, I was a mess and with the salt over my hat and face, I could have filled the salt shaker at home for a month. By the time I got dropped from the second group, I had heard the news that I didn't have to finish to win the jerseys so I pulled the pin - so I ended up winning both competitions!
It was a good boost for the morale and motivation and there was some good coin for the pocket. Ever reliable Al finished 6th. After this, it was a few days off before the Peace race.
Two of these days were spent at the Czech and Polish embassies collecting visas. So there was a fair bit of waiting around. It was actually good to hear Macca [David McKenzie] and Drewy's [Jamie Drew] war stories from past Peace race's back in the mid 90's and I was starting to wonder if I was going to get scarring memories from this race they call the "Eastern Europe's Tour de France".
56th Peace Race/Course de la Paix - 2.2
Arriving in Czech, we saw the program: four hilly days, three flat long days and two more hilly days totaling nine days. The TV didn't give us much better news with the weather report either!
Stage 1 - May 9: Olomouc (Czech Republic) - Olomouc, 111.3 km
The first day was a short 130km stage with four laps of a 2km climb towards the end. Early on a mass 20 man pile up occurred, and soon after a break of 20 riders went off the front with Drewy in it. The hill was hard every lap but apart from that the stage was OK. The break was caught and it turned into a bunch kick. Hondo won and our GC rider turned into a sprinter to get in the money.
Stage 2 - May 10: Unicov - Opava, 155.4 km
The second day was the first of the real hilly days but they got harder and hillier every day. Telekom rode tempo most of the day and somehow it turned into a bunch kick which Hondo won again. It rained on and off all day and the legs were terrible; right here and then I knew it was going to be a long tour. Drewy and Scotty got in the money while one of the Belgies on the team, Tierry [Masschelein], pulled out to leave us with just six riders.
Stage 3 - May 11: Knov - Polanica Zdroj, 191.3 km
The next day was a hard one which I didn't enjoy. It climbed straight of town and the attacks started form the gun. Scotty [Guyton] slipped straight into the right move and we didn't see him again till the 150km mark when he was caught. It rained again this day but this time it was freezing. I clearly didn't bring my climbing legs and was in trouble on every rise. It split up on the one local lap that sent us down a road that reminds me of a cross country race from school. Al was in the front group and once again Hondo won the stage, with a Telekom 1-2 on GC.
Stage 4 - May 12: Klodzko (Poland) - Walbrzych, 179.4 km
We were now in Poland; the roads were not the best which caused a lot of punctures and a few crashes. The hardest day of the tour and one of the longest. This day saw a lot of riders step off their bikes. Once again they raced from the flag drop and the first of nine categorised climbs started at the 15km mark. My legs felt a bit better today which didn't make a whole lot of difference, just meant I was one group in front of where I thought I'd be. It was a hard day, but the thought of a flat day made us feel better. Alby rode well to finish in the second group who finished 9th onwards. Wesemann and Sosenka took 7 mins out of everyone in the stage. Macca and Scotty headed back to Gent.
Stage 5 - May 13: Jawor - Zielona Gora, 212.8 km
We were down to four and the field was looking very small. This was a crucial time for me in the tour because my legs were screaming and if I didn't hang on, I was going to phone the boys to come back and pick me up. I hung on and for the first hour it was real fast. A break went away and Telekom rode tempo on the front for the rest of the day which made for good recovery, but 215km is still not recovery!
Stage 6 - May 14: Krosno Odrzanskie - Frankfurt n O., 146.6 km
Another flat day but a bit shorter. We missed the break again and Francky, our DS, did not let us forget that for a while. The break succeeded to just make us feel worse. I actually gave the sprint a nudge today and finished just outside the money.
Stage 7 - May 15: Lübben (Germany) - Naumburg, 213.6 km
Another flat and very long day, and this time the rain was back. It wasn't just back lightly either - it was a downpour. I was gee'd to make an amends for yesterday and went with every single attack.
After about 15km we went across some off-camber train lines in the wet. This caused a mass pile-up; I was scarred to say the least - I saw grown men crying as their kneecaps were opened up through their leg warmers, not a nice sight. One rider made a sneaky move and disappeared off the front while this was happening. He gained a maximum of 27 mins over the bunch and hung on to win the stage by 6mins.
Stage 8 - May 16: Freyburg/U - Klingenthal, 187.0 km
Today was the make or break stage for the GC riders. Hilly all day, then finished off with three laps of a 2km, 22% berg which turned out to be unbelievably steep. Drewy has been battling a cold all week and did the smart thing by not starting. Down to three riders and only 88 guys left in the tour. My day was one to forget, a lot of pain and suffering. I just kept Alby out of the wind for as long as possible and then found a nice big group when the race lit up. Alby was near the top 10 for the day and 16th on GC.
Stage 9 - May 17: Bad Elster - Erfurt, 160.5 km
The last day of the tour, and thank god they cruised for the first 100km, 'cause it would've been another long day for me. It was a cruisy day, but for me, I was absolutely in need of a rest, and it felt like one of the hardest days; it was fantastic to see the finish line.
And now a bit of R&R
The Peace Race was over and I was stoked, two weeks off! I'm glad I finally got to race it and I have also come out with many a story or two to shed to young pros in five or six years time, just like the boys did to me. It was just unbelievable how hard the Polish and Czech riders fight for every last euro cent. Makes for tough racing.
After the Peace Race I went back to my mates house in Czech, Tomas Buchacek. Tomas was my teammate in Italy for two years and has spent three off seasons in a row in Sydney at my house, so I thought it was about time to see his side of life. It was a good but too short stay - it was relaxing and good to meet his parents, and I was fed like a king... mmmm.
Back in Gent and with two weeks without a race, I've spent one week just rolling the legs over. This is what I needed, what I didn't need was a cold on top of the fatigue I had. So I've had some more forced rest the past few days.
Because I haven't been around Gent for a long time and I'm off to the States again soon, I've had a busy social schedule which has kept me busy. I haven't had to cook for the past three nights, so you can't complain about that. I had a huge feast with my old semi-DS from last year Dirk Van Hove, who seems more Aussie than he is Belgie.
Then a good ol' Aussie BBQ at Al and Scott's house the next afternoon. To make it even more Australian, the footy came out and it was AFL vs NRL. No hammie's [hamstrings] pulled though! Then finished the week with a dinner at my mate Anthony Challinor's apartment. Got to cook myself tonight, too much stress.
Off to the States on Saturday for USPRO, then to Canada for Tour Beauce. Should be a good trip and hopefully the form will be good after this rest.
Will keep you updated,