Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004
XC World Cup #2 - CDM, Houffalize, Belgium, May 30, 2004
Hard day in Houffalize
By Joshua Fleming
Round 2 of the World Cup series was held in Houffalize, Belgium - about 1.5 hrs from where I'm living in Booischot.
Houuffalize would have to be one of the hardest courses I've raced on. Always a big crowd of spectators come to watch. An always a full field of riders - around 200 and that's after they run a qualifying race on the Sat for riders who don't have World Cup points. Course had changed from previous years, taking out the long steep road climb and adding a few more short steep climbs and some fast technical descents.
Weather has been very dry, so conditions were dusty and warm - PERFECT.
Start loop was 2km road section before joining onto the top half of course, then six laps. Thought this would be good chance to get to front on the road section. Found myself not making a lot of ground as it was like a sprint finish at the end of a road race, 200 riders across both lanes.
Hit the dirt in about the same position as I started on grid - 55th - avoiding crashes. Legs where screaming on the first lap just trying to hold position, but came good and started moving through the field.
The way the course is set out, big time gaps opened up early in the race; first and second had three mins over field by second lap I was told.
Was concentrating hard on the descents to keep smooth as their was lots of small tree stumps sticking up and sharp rocks to punctures on, also to try and save energy for the short 25 percent grade climbs. Race was a real buzz had plenty of local Belgian friends screaming out around whole course. Legs where feeling strong going into the last lap crossing the line in 20th place.
Thanks for reading. Off to Fort Williams in Scotland next weekend.