Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004

Down and out at the Harelbeke Classic

Two weeks into the quest and finally the snow has cleared and the temperature is creeping up to 10 degrees Celsius. We all seem to have slipped into the Belgi way of things with shopping the budget Aussie way at the local Aldi and taking advantage of any freebies in the aisles. Yesterday, I sampled a 2000 Shiraz closely followed by Nutella... yeahyeah.

In the house we have our connection with the hip and fab world through TMF, the music channel. Kylie Minogue seems to be on the money, closely followed by a jiggling and cheeky Bioncé.

It seems that by the positive response from the website, our team kit is a winner and the demand is astounding… like my fan mail, I guess, it's all about me you know.

Our sponsors are all keen to push the team into a successful year and with products like J-tech on board to supply race supplements, aminos and protein powders, I already feel the benefits… BEEFCAKE!

The Harelbeke Classic was a 1.6 in Belgium that included some cobbled climbs, narrow roads and enough horsepower in the bunch to win the Melbourne Cup. The short version of my moment on this day was not all that inspiring. I copped a shunt coming into a corner by a guy with calves like John Page, crashed at 40kph, skated on my carbon soles and never hit the ground. The bike took it all with bent bars, a butchered rear mech, saddle, and pedal. After some very impressive driving by the DS, I was back on, only to hit the first climb and put that pretty and almost-straight rear derailleur into the back wheel… BOOM! And it was time to get my own dose of the Belgium round of the world rally championships.

Wanzele Pro kermese

As per normal, this all started with a smoke filled pub full of overweight, drunk locals smoking cigars and taking entries… WELCOME. A local fan offered his warm garage for the riders to prepare for a solid dose of bicycle practice. Henk Vogels and Nick Gates came out to play and I am sure that anyone who knows Henk smiled at simply seeing him kitted up and on the bike. Nice.

'The front' seems to be the only order of the day, or as one local said, "Do not clean the grass" - meaning do not get stuck in the gutter. Our Belgium teammate was the only one to survive the bunch cleansing by Domo and finish in the top 30.

Matt Rice rocked up yesterday and judging by the size of his bike, I look forward to hiding behind him in the crosswinds. His chilled Aussie style will help keep things real in the house and keep the good vibes rolling. I'm sure that when team shrinks and fiancé Veronica arrives, there will be no shortage of shenanigans or high morale in the camp.

The only other real gossip from here is that I did a progressive max test this morning. I hope to turn my standard Mitsubishi engine with a boot full of soup it up options into a high revving Lancia EVO 7 with twin turbos.

Cheers, and here's a toast to €1 bottles of red wine.

Nathan "Chookman" Russell

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