Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004

Belgium, July 3, 2004

Number 5 is alive!

By Nathan "Chookman" Russell

The famous (or infamous) Tour devil
Photo ©: Nathan Russell
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Ghost town
Photo ©: Nathan Russell
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NOT the Team Cyclingnews team house!
Photo ©: Nathan Russell
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On a chilled out Sunday afternoon in downtown Booischot, I come to Cyclingnews readers with a run-down from the last few weeks. It's mid-season for the locals and with the national champs on, there were a lot of very fresh pins in the in the lead-up kermesses.

I had a blast administering a healthy dose of swapoffio with Landbouwkrediet, Palmans and Lotto-Domo. The pro kermesse races are a bonza chance for punters like myself to get snotted on and to snott back at some of the more famous riders. Crowds are always in abundance and it's hard not to get geed for some time on the front as the bunch rockets into the start finish. One moment that stood out was from our star Bobbie Dazzler (Robbie Williams). The thought of me swapping of with Ludo, Steels and co. at 18 years of age was only a dream and never an option. Great to see and more to come, no doubt.

The other races keeping me busy are the Dutch crits. Harro and myself had some good days flying the flag as the flying kangaroos in the bunch. The Euro's hate being worked over by us and our black and white approach to things.

One thing I will not do again is go out for the mid-season bender then line up for a 46kph avg. crit the next day. I'm sure I took at least one year of the end of my life - which is ok, I guess.

Hot 5 at 5 on the 5-loop.

Moving along to the 5-thing; in our neck of the woods, there is a genius out there who has painted a '5' on the road to direct a rider through the best 160k in the region. It magically keeps you no more than 40k from home and tackles no less than 25 bergs, some cobbled, and all on quiet roads. It's perfect for a day with the Mini-disc as you don't need to think where to go, you just follow the '5's. Today was one of those days on the 5-loop... a steady 5 hrs, home at 5pm on the 5 loop... with 5 coffees (joking).

It's Tour time and with the prologue start 90k away, it was a must for me and V. It was great to see the smile on Veronica's face as every name in a cycling mag zipped past at Warp 3. We perched ourselves for a few hours on a dirty ledge, giving us a pearler view of the riders at the 3k to go point. We had the perfect enthusiastic partner along for the mission, my old mate pee-wee (Robert Kidney) almost threw himself of the ledge every time a rider came through... even before the beers!

While I'm on the Tour topic, some one out there must have bought a Voodoo doll and put a curse on the Aussie's. Gates, McGee, Rogers have all had some very iffy moments thus far. Will Cadel show us some of his Magic when the roads go up into the clouds?

From now on for myself, it's all systems go to prepare for mid-August/September when I will have the form of my life. The team has a lot of 1.2 and 1.3 races in that period. In lead up to these races, we have the Tour of Hungary and Tour of Antwerpen. Mix this up with heaps of pro kermesses and I reckon that I could be a little woozy come home-time, which will be mid-Sept.

The last three days have been no less than five hours on rolling hills in the French-speaking part of Belg. Yesterday, I almost made it to catch a peek at the Tour as they lit up the road for a stage finish in Namen. My timing was way out and I opted for a tailwind-assisted ride home and the final 20k of the stage on the Liza Minelli (Telly).

I'm as motivated as a juvenile Div. 1 rider before the metro's at Centennial Park, which will be kinda handy as the next two weeks are 1000k each, with a solid dose of racing thrown in as well. On a down note, my partner in crime David Harrigan stopped rather rapidly to talk to the barriers at 250m to go yesterday and will need some time off to get himself back into shape. Expect a pic of Harro wearing a neck brace and on the home trainer by the end of the week.

Well folks, I'm off for a hot lap of the block on the scooter. It tops out at 30kph and I reckon the local Belgi farmers freak out a little at the sight of a bare foot, singlet wearing, rider tanned, Mohawked aussie zippin' around the back streets like a 10 year-old.

Me, on the other hand, simply dig it.


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