After a seven hour trek through four countries the day prior (Belgium, Luxemburg, France, and Switzerland) we were in Ruebiland and ready to race. The race started and the insanity began. Quickly descending at over 70 km/h, I could tell it was going to be a crazy race. The roads were wide but because the race used such busy roads that there were cars randomly stopped in the left lane so you always had to ride with your head up looking at what was coming.
20km into the race I fallowed a move that went off the front with 5 other riders. We rapidly opened the gap to 20 seconds but didn’t get much more then that. The first sprint point out on the road was coming up at 42km so our group worked hard to keep the gap until there. We held off the pack and I took 3rd in the sprint, but our group was caught shortly there after. When I returned to the field I realized that two of my teammates weren’t there; Max, Evan, and Ian were all caught up in crashes. Ian rejoined the group but Max and Evan rode hard but couldn’t close the gap to the main field. About the time that my little group was caught a large group with 14 riders went clear of the pack with no Americans present. Once the group was gone it was gone, most of the stronger team had riders up the road so they didn’t want to chase.
Going into the finishing circuits which were hilly, the group up front only got more time. As we hit the hill on the final lap I moved to the front to try and get a good finish. I finished 33rd but 3minutes and 38 seconds behind the group that got away, but because I got 3rd on the sprint out on the road I got a 1 second time bonus and moved up to 18th on GC.
Stage 2 was a shorter 70 km race but had one hard switch back climb and a descent that could make you pee your spandex. The race was again fast from the start but there were not so many cars on the course which made it a lot safer. The first time up the climb was hard but the first time down the descent was jaw dropping. Thankfully I started the descent in the top 15 riders, because the first time we went through a hard turn I almost went over the bars. However I made it down safe the first time and before I realized we were on the climb again. This time I started a little further back at the start but by the top was in the top 20, two riders behind my teammate Marshall. When we got to the first switch back on the descent Marshall took it too fast and washed out his front tire in the dirt. I was just behind him so I saw it all. He just lost control and slid across the road. There was a Japanese rider behind Marshall who hit Marsh and went flying. I had just enough time to swing right around Marshalls out laid body and make it clear of the crash. However the scariest part was after I passed Marshall and the Japanese riders bike bounced along side me as I was just waiting for in to fall into me. It didn’t however because I didn’t crash. The final time up the climb I stayed in front and finished 13th on the stage but stayed the same on GC because the riders ahead of me had a lot of time in between.
Stage 3 was that after noon and was a short 7.7km time trial. I got to use a TT bike but it was a little to small. It was a fast course and I finished 5th just 2 seconds out of 3rd.
Stage 4 was Sunday and was another hard hilly stage. Despite all the climbing the group stayed together for the most part and I finished in the lead group in 32nd, and moved up to 17th where I finished on GC.
The race was a leaning experience for everyone. I will be staying around Belgium for another week then driving to Italy to do some more hard stage racing.
Everyone was fine after all the crashes some road rash but no broken bones.
Hope you enjoy Ian