Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004
Lincoln International GP - 1.5, Great Britain, May 9, 2004
Awright geezas, let's take on the Brits!
By Cody Stevenson
Hello to everyone,
Since returning from Denmark last week (read, smashed by CSC) I put in some hard specific training for the next objective, Lincoln GP in England. The team consisted of Phil Thuaux, Robbie Williams, Leigh Palmer, the two Brits Hamish Haynes and Tom Barras, and myself.
A 6am depart to catch the ferry from Calais to Dover was complicated slightly by some car issues on the Brussels ring road. Once that was sorted, it was plain sailing to the British Isles.
Arriving in Lincoln, in the North East of England, we jumped on our bikes and cruised into the town to have a look at the circuit. The race route was around 13km and consisted of 13 laps. I was told previously about the steep cobbled climb on the circuit that went straight through the centre of the village, weaving between a Hamlet-esque castle and a massive cathedral. You could easily have seen a battle played out before you in ages past in the setting. I was beginning to realise Cyclingnews.com were going to have a battle royale the next day.
The finish of the race was atop this aforementioned climb, and as Phil said, "It is every man for themselves up this thing." The climb was around 300 metres and had a left and right turn halfway up. The cobbles were not as bad as the Paterberg, but its 1 in 6 grade was akin in severity. The rest of the lap consisted of rolling roads with a fast descent. After a good feed, and general shenanigans it was off to bed and ready to take on the Brits, awright geeza!
Race day: no rain, grey skies, apparently a good day for the region! 150 riders ready for a bit of war. The race was ON from lap one with a small group skipping away after 5km; Leigh was in the break, so we were happy to sit and wait. A few laps later and Hamish "Houdini" was in the break so that made 10 in the front. Hamish has been a bit sick earlier in the season, but on limited training, he has been pulling off some good rides. This group established a break of around 1'30 and on lap six, Phil crossed the gap solo, showcasing his excellent form at the moment. The only problem was that a group of around 20 crossed the gap a lap later with me tacked on the back; poor Phil had expended all that energy and we ended up in the same place at the same time in the end.
Leigh had done his job and returned to the peloton, feeling the effects of being in the front from kilometre five and Tom set about covering anymore moves that went from the peloton. It now became a wait and watch game; with three in the front we each went with everything that moved... except one containing the winner. With three laps to go and my legs stinging from having climbed the hill 10 times already, you could sense a move was going. On the technical downhill, Malcolm Elliott and Dave McCann had a small gap with Matt Stephens, who were in pursuit of a group of four containing Hamish. I did the descent flat stick and caught them at the bottom. The situation was now three in the front, four chasing including Hamish and the new chase group containing me. With two laps to go it, became eight chasing three, with Phil covering everything in the chase group.
Up the hill for the second last time and Hamish was dropped from the front and I was left on my own with seven riders. With 10km to go, it was 30 seconds to the front three (which became two) and 40 seconds back to the peloton. We weren't going to be caught, but were we going to catch the front? At 2km to go and my legs screaming, Elliott and three others skipped away. I had no reaction. As we hit the climb with 500m to the finish I kicked hard and got a small gap; I could see them, but not close enough. With 100m to go I had blown and was weaving across the cobbles in a bit of pain. I hung on for eighth and Phil lead his group in for 11th. The only downside was that Robbie Williams aka Bobbie Dazzler had a fall and is missing a bit of skin!
So we had a pretty good weekend, the Cyclingnews.com team rode really well collectively and the midnight dash back to Belgium is always a bit easier to handle when you do well... and also when you are with our soigneur Luc and director Alain... ahh shenanigans!
Gotta go do a recovery ride,