Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004
Ronde van Noord Holland, Netherlands, April 25, 2004
A broken collarbone for Hilton
The roller coaster made an abrupt halt last week, I was knocked around like a cue ball by a nasty head cold. I spent a few days recovering and then a few more, and a week later I was finally feeling OK. Obviously my preparation for the Ronde Van Noord-Holland, a 200km 1.3 classified race was less than ideal. I did 3 hours every day for the three days before the event but was still not feeling good.
As the race was a long drive...well, a Belgian long drive (3 hours), we departed on Saturday and stayed in the same hotel with Lotto-Domo, and Chocolade Jacques. Race Day was a nice warm day, with almost no wind (yes, you did read it correctly, no wind in Holland!).
The first 100km was fast and the race was progressing nicely towards the only really dangerous section of the race, a 7 km section of really bad pavers combined with a slight crosswind. It was here the race split and we unfortunately lost a few riders in the split. Hilton and I made the front group which was now chasing down a group of three, including Robbie McEwen, which had 5 minutes on the peloton. Chocolade Jacques and Bankgiroloterij began to chase and for the next 60 km the race was frantically snaking its way along the dykes which litter the Dutch countryside.
Every 10km the gap would come down by about a minute, and with 10km to go the front three only had 45 seconds. As we hit the last 4km, having not ridden under 50kph for an hour, the trio had been swallowed up. In that hour, Hilton had been feeling good for the sprint, and I was beginning to feel that the lack of training and the sickness was starting to catch up with me. I was doing what I could to put Hilton in a position where he could use his speed in the sprint which was to follow. I took him to the front a few times and in the process managed to really make my legs scream. But with Hilton's form at the moment, it was good to be able to help.
With 2km to go I could see Hilton was in good position, with 1km to go he was around 6th wheel as the charge began for the line I was looking to see for Hilton's helmet. With about 50 metres to go a spectator had leaned out over the barrier to get a photo...I hope it was worth it! The chaos that ensued after Jans Koerts clipped the spectator was catastrophic, especially for Hilton. About 10 riders went from 60kph to zero all in a matter of 25 metres and all for a photo.
As I rolled across the line in the middle of the bunch, I could see Hilton's front wheel, which was at this stage not attached to his bike. He had come down really hard on his right side and broke his collarbone. He had actually crossed the finish line in 16th place, but I am sure he was not pedaling at that stage.
I ended up finishing in the bunch, but it is rather irrelevant when you see your teammate on the ground in obvious pain.
It is really a shame for Hilton as he has had really good form of late. Through Hilton's bad change of fortune, I am now going to Denmark this weekend for the CSC Classic and GP Sats and then to England next week for GP Lincoln.
The other half of the team went to Switzerland for Berner Rundfahrt, and Phil took a good 4th place with three other Cyclingnews.com riders in the top 20. Go team!
Till next time,
1 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Lotto-Domo 4.29.15 2 Allan Bo Andresen (Den) Bankgiroloterij 3 Jans Koerts (Ned) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf ... 16 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Cyclingnews.com 53 Cody Stevenson (Aus) Cyclingnews.com Full results