Charles Page is vandaag de winnaar geworden van de interclub voor juniores in Hooglede. Charles bezorgt ons volgend uitgebreid verslag.
Today's race in Hooglede was a Belgian interclub with roughly 110 riders. Strong winds and two significant drags defined the 8.4km long lap which we would be riding 12 times. After being ill last weekend for nationals I'd had an easy week in an attempt to recover as best I could but still I was coughing up rubbish from my lungs on Thursday's warm up ride. With being slightly ill in mind I went in to the race with the intention of using it as training, making sure I didn't just sit and wait for the significant move to go. The race started, and it started face, almost instantly it was strung to one long line with riders sprinting up the first drag 3 km in to the loop and the location for the sprint points. The bunch was stringing out and coming together for the majority of the first lap. Second time round once again up the sprints drag everyone went flying up it I was sitting high up and made sure that I followed it over the top. The riders who took the sprint points kept going through the line and down the descent I made sure to get onto it and keep driving. On the back end of the circuit a group came across and i made sure I was in the front half so when the split happened from the group, which it did I was in it this then pressed on only to be brought back on the line showing 10 to go. I was making sure I was as well placed as I could be though I could feeling the grasp of the remnants of my cold gripping tighter on my lungs and with the incessant crosswinds it made it hard to hold position.
Thankfully I was positioned well enough so when the inevitable crash happened on the tight and twisty back roads of the Belgian countryside it was behind me. Although a rider landing on my rear wheel knocked it out of alignment meaning, after loosening my rear brake, I had limited use of it. As the race continued splits in the bunch came and went and riders continued to get shelled as the relentless being set on the front by solo escapees and teams chasing them back kept on. 6 laps in my right shifter came loose which at first seemed no problem but as it loosened further the hoods became an unrideable position. The race spiked and lulled and as teams began to tire Louis managed to get in a break which seemingly stuck and so with three men up the road the race came to some sort of stalemate with four to go. Only on the subsequent lap did things start to kick off. As before the pace was ramped up only this time there was no cohesion from any team and splits were appearing and expanding. All four of the remaining South East riders made the front split of 20/25 riders. We had the numbers and our split distanced itself from the rest of the race. As we came round to the 2km drag which had a pummelling headwind that lead to the finish line splinters in our group started to happening and just after the finish line I pressed on as riders weren't pulling turns and got myself a gap.
In the lead in to the sprint point Louis dropped his two fellow attackers and as I came to join him on the line for the sprint Jacob and Ollie came past us. Four from south east pressing on the front and we had a gap. We made the most of our understanding of each and pressed on through the lap. We'd lost sight of the peloton as we rolled through the finish line taking the bell. One to go. Just 8.4km and we were there. At this point my already loosened shifter completely gave way I had no use of my gears as I had nothing to push against thankfully I was in a useable gear as this happened and pressed on with the others. As we turned the bend on to the long straight with the headwind a marshal on the inside of the final bend was signalling something, Jacob who was leading took a wrong turn in the confusion. We had to wait, we'd driven this break so well we couldn't just abandon the team spirit we'd had. As Jacob rejoined with 2km left we realised two riders had crossed the gap and were coming to join us and as we hit 1500m and the foot of the drag they did. At this point I knew everything would sit up and it did, so I took a chance and pressed on distancing myself from the break. As I hit 500m to go I looked round the break was too far behind to see but the headwind and burning pain in my legs as all the efforts of race hit me meant I was far from safe. Only once I'd reached the barriers with 150m to go I dared to look again. At this point the relief hit the chance had paid off, I was able to put my hands in the air again. Ollie was the next rider getting 3rd, Jacob 5th and Louis 6th. We dominated the team prize getting only 9 points to second place's 37.