Sunday, 5 February 2012

Final Race! GVA Trophee Lille

I was hoping to find a race similar to the Vlaamse Weiler Federatie race I got 2nd at, to try and pull off a win before I came home. Unfortunately, the smaller competitions have all finished up now, so it was another tough race for me. The GVA Trophee, for those who don't know, is the highest level of CX race (together with the Superprestige) apart from the World Cup and World Champs. Belgium finally had the weather I was expecting in the last week, when we recieved a dump of snow on Thursday. Driving out to the race, I was skeptical of whether I could really be bothered. The temperature was saying -12 degrees, surely I'm better off leaving on a high with the amazing World Championships, than giving myself frostbite on a freezing Saturday morning. Arriving at the course there was a decent turn out of specators and racers, considering the weather, but it was certainly beautiful.

Pine forests surrounding a frozen lake, all covered in snow, with a blue sky. Very picturesque. Thankfully due to the cold, the course was actually very dry, and superfast. I rugged up to the max for the race, wearing long knicks, thermal undershirt, jersey, long sleeve lined jersey and a balaclava.
After one practice lap before the start, I was actually ready to throw the towel in. My hands were beyond numb, they just bloody well hurt! Thankfully I was able to warm them up before the start. There were still all of the big guns at the start line, but most of the tailenders had gone back to their respective homes following the WC's. I was thinking my chances of finishing last were pretty high. The gun went off, and I hung out the back but stuck with the bunch for the first km. In a pile up round a corner I found a sneaky inside line and jumped infront of about 6 people, but as I jumped on my bike, I couldnt move, there was deep sand under the snow which I hadnt seen! Everyone came past me again and I was back in last. During the lap I rode back up to one other rider, and proceeded to pass him before the end of the lap. The crowd took a while to get behind me but thanks to some people who recognised me from the week before, I was getting some of the loudest cheers (apparently) whenever I would pass them.

I rode 5 laps before being pulled, and got about 40 mins riding time. I beat one finisher, a Belgian, and was apparently consistently 30 secs behind the person in front. Not half bad, but nothing amazing. Still, it was nice to be able to race in the snow, and it certainly was a pleasant way to wrap up my racing. Ellen took some great photos of the race, and Jeroen and his friend Joni were on hand in the pit lane. Whilst I didnt end up changing bikes, I certainly appreciated their help.
And that's all! I will post up some of those photos before I leave, together with a run down of the trip, but for now it's time to relax!

**Unfortunately, due to the snow, we were unable to go to the beer festival! Devastating, but better than ending up in a ditch on the side of the frozen road. I'll get you next time Prime.

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