Homeboy: Hot Racing in Belgium
– By Gregg Germer –
I feel as if I am trading in one home for another. In a way I am returning home to my family back in Texas, but in another way I am leaving my home here in Belgium. I have my teammates, Bernard and Ann, my Belgian friends, and Julie all here. I’ve found that nice comfortable groove to life that makes the days enjoyable due to their simplicity. I feel at home.
As it may be I am leaving for home. Ready to enjoy the norm of my years in Texas: Mexican Food, 24-hour food shopping, Starbucks, my car, and family. The journey is coming to a close and my racing has finished off very well.
One of my biggest problems this year (and years past) has been having some inconsistent results from weekend to weekend. This year has been better than most with steady improvement throughout the year and very little ups and downs from week to week. This last week was a bit different.
On Thursday we had a local crit race in the resort town of Bredene. I was looking forward to this race for a number of reasons including a short 66 kilometer distance, my great form coming off of the Tour of South-East Flanders, it’s Julie’s birthday and having my friends from Oostende come out to watch the race. The crit reminded me of an American race as it went through a parking lot at one point during the race.
The team was able to race well, covering most of the breaks and getting our riders up the road. After 30 minutes two riders get off the front and have a 20-second gap. We decide to organize a chase and start a 4-man team train at the front. It doesn’t work and the gap stays the same and gains time. Eventually we give up and the field comes in for the sprint. I push it hard down the long 1k straight homestretch and I’m able to hold on for a 7th place. Come to find out that the one of the riders up the road and his teammates are all members of the German national track pursuit team. No wonder we had trouble putting time on them!
On Monday we had a short 120-kilometer race in France with a 2.2k climb we did 7 times. I was the designated protected rider for the first time this year. I’ll leave this report at: I got dropped on the climb, caught on after 15 kilometers of chasing, and got dropped again. I saw the highest heart rate of any race this year during my chase back on. It hurt and I sucked.
Tuesday is a Kermese race in Hulste. The team wants to do very well at this race as our Aitos clothing sponsors father helps put on this race. Some of the guys have been racing for the previous two days and are very tired. We start the race off with an ABC-Aitos rider in the first break.
Soon the first break of the day is caught and from then on the ABC-Aitos team had a rider make every break in the race. I was able to make the second break and finish in a very respectable 10th place. Jed Schneider made the front break but was quickly worked over by the other Belgian riders. They really don’t like having Americans (or any foreign rider for that fact) in the break to possibly screw up any bets placed on the break. He was able to hold out for a 9th place.
So lots of crazy fast racing to finish off the European season. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Next week I’ll do a recap of random thoughts, insights, and other stupid rants about my adventure this year. I still have two more big races to do this season with the American Velodrome Challenge Finals in Houston, Texas and the Univest Grand Prix in Pennsylvanian.
Till next week: