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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

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At the team launch in February
oto ©: Gerard Knapp

Driving it home: The Team DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed diary, 2006

Cameron Jennings and some of the 2005 Team Cyclingnews riders made the move to the new DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed Continental team. Based in Belgium, they'll teach us about Belgian weather, beer and bike racing in 2006.

Check out the adventures of Cam and the crew - a group of Aussies, Brits (English, Welsh, Scottish), the odd New Zealander and remarkably, even a Belgian - as they tackle a hectic race schedule on three continents this year.

For further reading about the team, visit the DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed official site. To check out Team Cyclingnews during 2005 and earlier, visit the 2005 site.

Belgium, June 16, 2006

The form is coming

By Russel Downing

Three days and three races

Day 1

The first race was a pro race in Saint Pieters Leeuw (167km) where myself and brother Dean were well out-numbered by the Chocolade Jacques crew. It seemed like every split they had at least 10 or more guys in it, which was making it hard to get anywhere without a few of them with us.

The race split and re-split, and going into the final lap I got in a break of about eight guys - but then on the last 15km lap a group of 10 or so came up with Deano in it. I was waiting for the big attack, which I made about 5km out, taking three guys with me and having a right go; but this didn’t work, and as soon as I was brought back Deano was on it going straight over the top. Two Chocolade Jacques riders got to him but wouldn’t work, so that break was about as finished as our race was...Dean finished 13th and I finished 16th - oh well, good training I suppose!

Day 2 - Wolvertem kermese

The day started badly for Deano. Just joining the highway we heard a noise which was Deano’s bike hitting the deck from the roof rack, snapping his carbon bars and bending his seat post. His race was over before it began. Onto the highway we went, with the worm in the back on bike duty to see if we could get to the race with two working bikes.

The race: normal kermese style - straight from the gun. There was a 20-man break going with me and Cam Jennings in it, so that was good. The first hour was molto rapido, covering 46km which was mega fast. Things settled a little as guys got tired and then the proper action started. There were guys going hard after primes, splitting the group with no joy of anything big getting away from the break. So it was left to the last couple of laps.

A group of five went away and the rest of break couldn’t chase, so I made my move to go across alone which was mega hard as the front break was moving even faster. Anyway, I got there, was just having a minute thinking when to make my move for the win, then someone beat me to it. He attacked and I was the only one willing to chase but didn’t quite get him and he was away.

This was all during the last lap so things were on, with me attacking but having no joy, and the same with other riders. Two of us got away in the final kilometre, but just couldn’t manage to catch the lone leader. I won the sprint for second which I was happy with and also took four primes on the way. The reward was some euros in the pocket and a very good workout which is good for the form. Two hours and 32 minutes for 115km.

Day 3 - Meise/Wolvertem kermese

As some of you probably know, the name of the café, street name and town is all you get for info on where these races start. We were looking for Meise or Wolvertem after the one hour drive to Brussels, but no cafe to the name of ‘New Bistro’ could be seen in any of the two towns, Meise or Wolvertem.

So it was only after asking about five Belgies, who didn’t know where this place was that we thought we were doomed as we weren’t going to find the race. That was until we saw an old man sitting on a stool outside his house on a main road who knew everything that was going on in the world.

So this chap told us where to go – it wasn’t Meise or Wolvertem but on the way to some place called Niewenrode or something. Anyway, we rocked up at 2 40pm and the race was on at 3.00pm, so there wasn’t much time to get going and on our way, but we had made it, which was a bonus. Quick change and we were off. We being me (Fonzy) and Bernie Sulzburger.

We were off and away and the race was the same old stuff. With the wind being quite strong the race was splitting and re-grouping all the time. Not knowing which move was going you had to be in them all, which Sulzy and myself were doing well. I'd be away for a lap or two then Sulzy would, and that was the format of the race for a while.

With three laps to go there was a split with about 12 guys which looked to riding away, but riders started to miss turns so Sulzy and I were driving it, but with not a lot of joy - the peloton was gaining on us fast. Just as the peloton was on in the tailwind staright section I attcked and was clear, on my own. I didn't attack thinking I could ride away to the finish solo, but I thought at least <i>some</i> riders would come across and that would be it. Half a lap later this happened and we had two laps to go of a 9km circuit.

There were six guys and we were working well with 18km to go, riding for the win. So it was over to me to pick my point and attack for the win. This came just past the start/finish area as we made a right turn just before the tailwind. I went so hard I was sprinting for what felt like a kilometre until I got a big enough gap - then it was head down, arse up and into my rhythm which was soon broken as I turned right into the stiff crosswind and then right again into the stiffer head wind to the finish.

But the wind didn't stop me as I had the victory in my sights. I was clear and up went the shooters - win number four for the fonz, another good win in the bank. Still searching for the big one, though!