Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004
Belgium, July 20, 2004
By Nathan "Chookman" Russell
It seems that time has flown since diary entries and the Cyclingnews website is lacking some 'giddy-up' from deepest, darkest Belgium.
As you can imagine, Tour fever can easily take over your day if you let it take hold. I need to get the day started with the usual consumption of God's beverage then get all chores and training out of the way. This then allows some solid chamois time on the lounge for Flemish, French or German Tour coverage.
My bicycle practice is coming along nicely since my dog show of a ride in the Spar Ardennes Challenge. I reckon my sudden rush of motivation clouded my outlook and the combination of big k's and four days' racing took its toll. Three steps forward... two steps back.
So after a day or two in a coma, the head was screwed back on and it was time to kit up for another pro kermesse. Word on the street was that it was a good course and some big hitters on the start list, and they were right. In the Aussie brigade there was Sean Sullivan, Matt Hayman, Matt Gilmore and Team Cyclingnews, of course. The international flavour came from Cedric Vasseur, Bruno Risi and one of my favourite Dutchies, Alain Van Katwijk.
Management and riders were all on there game and keen to give Team Cyclingnews riders every opportunity to get up there and show our worth. My confidence at this level is growing along with my ability to read the fast-moving game of chess that is pro cycling.
After lap 1, I rode into a break of eight with Tom Steels and my mate Geert Omloop etc. This formula wasn't enough and the toot in the train was lost. Cody covered the next move and the race was on. Rabo had no one in the move nor did Vlandareen, so after a lap or so it was back together. We missed the next major move and once again we had to put five boys on the front for some camera time. Luckily, Rabobank lost faith in their breakaway rider and they joined the task at hand.
It then rained very, very hard for the final few laps and things got ugly. Eric Lievens covered a lot of moves and got into a break that had a solid chance of staying away. A moment that still cracks me up is from six foot something Chocolate Jaques rider Rick Reinerink. I was on the drops giving it all out of a corner with about 5k to go when his saddle shunts me in the shoulder. It seems there is a height discrepancy between us.
While I am on "moments", our race winning machine Phil Thuaux had a new way of getting off the front of the bunch... simply go straight! LEFT, PHIL! LEFT! LEFT!
At the end of the day, it was Eric and me up for some coin and a valuable lesson was once again drilled into my noggin. Be in the move and eliminate the need for dragging back the break.
The past week will be in preparation for the Tour of Hungary (check the website). We have worked on our team time trial technique and I like the way things are going. Leigh Palmer and Cameron Jennings all have the goods to ride a solid tour and with some luck, we might just shock a few.
To all the mates at home, get ready for the day. I have the suit and rings.