Saturday, 29 December 2012

Azencross B Post Bank Trophee - FMB Tubulars

Yesterday's race was a B Post Bank Trophee round in Loenhout. I raced this race last year, and its renowned for having rowdy crowds (due to a break in football season at this time, all the soccer fans rock up and get out of control). Last year it was an absolute mudfest and with record rainfall for December, it was even filthier. 
The big news of the day was an angry Sven Nys stopping mid race to speak to a spectator who'd thrown beer at him every lap. He was pretty level headed and just had a few words, but it looked like the guy copped a beating from other spectators and fair enough! 
Last year I had a few B level Belgians and some other foreigners to race against, but lining up on the start line it was pretty obvious I'd most likely be alone out the back. The other riders were either put off by the poor weather or saving themselves for Bredene the next day. 
There was a massive crash as soon as we hit the the mud section. There was a huge pile up behind him and everyone was off their bike and running. The mud section lasted about 1km and involved about 20cm of sticky mud. Exhausting on the legs. Last year I had to run it all, but thanks to a combination of improved fitness and a superb set of tubular tyres, I was able to ride it all. 
There was even a bmx style set of rollers on the course.
Despite this, I was alone after the first lap. The crowd were insane though, the volume of cheers was second only to the world champs in Koksijde. I played it up, and once I'd figured I was on my last lap before being pulled, I made sure to put on a show for the crowd. Sonoko has generously allowed me to use some of her fantastic photos and you can see just how much fun I had out there.
In the end, I was the last finisher in 36th, but three laps down instead of the five from last year. Not a great result, but not too bad either. 

A bloke I've met through Dirty Deeds, Paul has started importing FMB tubulars into Australia. I was frantically trying to organize tubs before I left, and on the Comptons advice I went for a set of FMB Super Muds. I can see why they were recommended to me, I've never ridden anything like them. In an ideal world, I'd have a set of their SSC's as well (their intermediate tread) for slightly less muddy conditions, but I could only fit two wheelsets in my luggage, so chose to prepare myself for the worst of the Belgian mud. They've been fantastic so far. Tread aside, the other feature which stands out is the coating on the sidewall. Dugasts are great, but the sidewalls rot if you don't paint a protective coating on them, and you have to reapply it during the season. The FMBs come standard with a coating, no hassles, no worries. They aren't cheap, but they've make a world of difference to my ride and I'm sure they've saved me from a few spills this season! If you're keen to get a set for the road or cross bike (Boonen uses FMBs....enough said), shoot Paul an email at 

I have Saturday off, before the last race of my Kerst Periode and my first ever race in the Superprestige Series, a night race in Diegem on Sunday. I'll be doing everything possible to finish on the lead lap!

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