Today was the last day of National Championship road races for most countries (except USA).
After I finished my race today in Zolder, Belgium today i quickly rushed back to the van to catch the last 80km of the mens Belgian championships. Since the course was fairly flat, it was expected to come down to a sprint finish. Tom Boonen was the pre-race favorite.
I arrived home to watch the last 30km. Within thirty seconds of turning on the TV I saw one of my cyclo-cross heroes Sven Nys attack the field. I've been so accustomed to seeing him in his orange Rabobank kit that i almost didn't recognize him. Oddly enough i knew it was he based on his riding style. His break didn't stay off the front for long but it was exciting to see him with good form nonetheless.
The sprint was easily the most exciting part of the race. Quick Step had a leadout train started from 10km before the finish. For the most part, powerhouse and outgoing Belgian Champion Stijn Devolder did the work at the front with Tom Boonen on his wheel. Just as it looked like Boonen may take it, his train was engulfed by riders on both sides at the 1km mark. As the other riders passed, Boonen tried to find a hole to get through. But in the process, he moved a little to the right and took out his teammate who was on his wheel. That shakeup combined with another guy to the right of Tommeke swerving across the field cost him the title. He ended up fifth and fist-poundingly disappointed.
The surprise of the race was SunWeb ProJob's cyclo-cross star Sven Vanthourenhout. He placed 2nd.
A couple of other cyclo-cross specialists who had a great day was Lars Boom and Marianne Vos who won the Netherlands Championship.
As i was scouring the results I saw that my friend and former Lotto-Belisol teammate Siobhan Dervan of Fenix won the Irish National Champion jersey, crossing the finish line over two minutes ahead of 2nd place.
As for my day on the bike, it was a snappy race (about 39kph) with lots of twists and turns and mini undulations but i stayed strong throughout. My sprint is still not quite ideal yet so i finished far back at 50th place of 65 finishers out of 95 starters. When i picked up my prize money, the guy handed me the 5 euro prize money in an envelope and said, "you're lucky." I expect he was referring to my placing 50th, the last place to receive prize money. But when i replied "thanks" i was thinking about my luck in recovering from such a bad head injury over the winter to be able to stick with the peloton. My goal for the next race is to infiltrate a successful break so i can sprint for the win against a maximum of ten gals versus the usual 70-100. Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading!*^%&