Easter is traditionally when the racing really hots up and Belgium is the heartland – this weekend would have been the Tour of Flanders. We’ve been lucky enough to ride on the same bergs and cobbles as the world’s biggest races for the last few years – last year we even managed to squeeze a race in ourselves. In the absence of reports from Calpe and Flanders, here’s how Cam got on last year in the Motherland…
At this point in the season I’d planned to have just finished my first block of road races and then head out to Calpe to really tune up the legs over Easter. Due to the global pandemic, and with no races now for a while, those plans have changed and now I just have to focus on keeping the motivation high and getting the training miles in.
It was around this time last year that I raced for the first time out in Belgium, and this year we’d planned to be doing the same after coming back from Calpe. It was great there last year, spending the Easter weekend with Glen in Flanders, getting some riding in before back to back races in Erpe-Mere on the Sunday and Moorslede on the Monday.
The ride we did on the Saturday included many of the famous cobbled climbs in Flanders that are such a key part of the classics – the Muur, Koppenberg and the Oude Kwaremont to name a few, as well as getting my first taste of Belgium roads and bike paths. Some fun digs up the climbs with Glen probably wasn’t the most ideal pre-race build up but it had to be done!
The Erpe-Mere 1.12B was my first experience riding a Kermesse and it was just as brutal as I’d expected! In 26 degree heat it was literally like racing in an oven and I found myself putting in a max effort out of almost every bend in the road just to hold the wheels! A break of five riders made it away but I was pleased to finish in the lead bunch after so many riders got shelled out the back.
My legs definitely paid the price after 2 days of riding/racing; however I just wanted to gain experience, stepping up a category to race the 1.12A. Although it wasn’t as hot, the course was very exposed meaning the wind was a big factor and guys were dropped from the go. I fought for my place in the bunch for several laps and learned loads straight away.
You never really understand the chaos of an echelon until you’re in one! I lasting about half an hour before being distanced and calling it a day – I got to enjoy the rest of the race in the sunshine at the side of the road, before heading out for a couple of easy warm-down hours to explore some more roads that that part of Flanders had to offer. It was an awesome weekend in the saddle and I hope to have many more doing the same once the races return!
Thanks to Mum for the soigneur duties and Glen for work on the spanners – Normally we say #welovebelgium but this year #wemissbelgium will have to do – good luck and stay safe to all our friends in Belgium and across the globe xxx
Photos by Glen Whittington, Cameron Preece and Claire Preece.
Cameron’s been riding with us since 2014 when Glen first built a tiny 650c Youth road bike for him – since then he’s raced his first season of ‘Cross in 2017/18 in the Juniors, followed it up with a highly successful road season, before a blinder of a 18/19 ‘cross season where he broke into the top 5 and raced the national champs on the ÆIGHT.MANUFACTØRY ØNE. This was enough to secure him a place on a new team, Southdowns Bikes/Casco Pet, which will help him make the step up to 1st cat and possibly some euro racing.
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