Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004

Vilvoorde-Houtem Kermis, July 14, 2004

Taking on the Kermis Kings

By Cody Stevenson

Hi there, ho there,

It is that time of year when the big boys go off and batter each other all over France for three weeks, and the teams not selected for the Tour and the small fries batter each other all over Belgium on the pro kermis scene.

A typical kermis course consists of three elements: roughly a 12km course completed about 14 times to give a 170km race; a drinking tent near the start/finish (and it ain't where you get a Gatorade!); and some big Belgie howlers, which we like to call the Kermis Kings!

These guys can ride pretty much flat out for 170km, they are about 80kg and usually I look under their saddle to get my view of the road up ahead... yeah, they're all as big as an ox!

Our race program for the month of July consists, basically, of two of these races per week. This past week, we raced at Vilvoorde-Houtem, a twisty course with a few open sections, situated just North of Brussels.

The race had everything, rain, wind, pavers, crashes and a bit off suffering thrown in. Team Cyclingnews.com were well represented in the race, helping Mr Bookmaker/Palmans to bring back the early break, then riding aggressively for the remainder of the race.

With three laps to go, a group of 12 had flown the coup in the melee after a crash; a few of us had been stuck behind the crash, which took out Tom, and by the time we rejoined the group, the dozen had flown off.

With about 5km to go, the attacks started and I managed to get into a group. I ended up taking 16th after stepping into the wind at 150m to go, only to find out I was already going full tilt... those big guys really do offer a good draft! So fourth in the kick was ok for a 64 kilo, 170 centimetre-tall kermis dweeb!

This race was also the return for Cameron after his crash in Spain, and as usual, reliable 'Wormy' finished in the bunch, showing his form will return very quickly! Sven and Hamish also finished in the group, while some bad luck hit Josh, Ricey and Leigh after the crash, and Phil had a small fall on the wet roads.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to transfer rain from Belgium to Australia? It has been a magical summer here - 15 degrees and rain most days... Tops!

Gotta go clean my bike,


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