The first stop on the journey, to Holland was to the north east of England where I would stay with one of my team mates, (who was also riding the race). Before travelling down South the following day. This is where we would meet the rest of our team mates and team manager Colin Batchilor, also Rene Groot and Steev Davison who would look after us for the weekend.
The accommodation provided for the race was surprisingly nice, we stayed in a caravan park where every team had there own static caravan. However the food was substandard. Pretty much the entire team had a bad stomach as a result of the food and to make matters worse it was the exact same dishes everyday for the whole time we were there. Eventually we gave in and went out for lunch one day which was much better.
We arrived in holland a day before the race began so we could do a course recce of the first stage wich was an 8mile TT. As you would imagine in Holland it was pan flat. Well apart from the small rises up and over bridges, but compared to the UK it was nothing.
Stage 1: Time Trial
Surprisingly I managed to keep my nerves remarkably under control, considering this was my first UCI race.
The thrill of having a motorbike out rider and a following car was amazing. Even though my outrider nearly fell off during the race, on a straight road.
I was going really well until about 2miles to go where a huge jeep was blocking one of the corners, so I had to wait about a minute for it to get out of the way so I could get through. This was so frustrating but there was nothing I could do. On the bright side, I was still infront of over 30 people on GC so it wasn’t all bad.
Stage 2: Road race
Today my nerves were not so calm. In order to get a good place on the gridding you have to line up in around 30-40mins before the race. As it began to get more crowded I started to notice that the majority of these girls were about twice the hight of me and there single leg circumference was two of mine put together. That was when the mild panic set in.
I managed to make my way up the the front of the peloton in order to make it through the first pinch point, without getting held up. Unfortunately one of these massive girls next to me tried to get into a none existing gap and as a result her front wheel got caught and she fell, flattening me and taking out the majority of the peloton. Luckily I was okay, but my bike was not. By the time it was fixed the bunch was long gone. I began to get some help from the neutral car in the convoy which was lots of fun, as I was beginning to see the bunch again. However the commissaries forced me to drop off the back of the car.
My team mate and I found ourselfs in a small group of people who had crashed. So to make the most of the situation we stared to do the old one two but we realised that neither of us could stay out there on our own. So we went off together to try and make it back to the main peloton. We were almost successful reducing the gap to around 1 minute but it wasn’t enough according to the police escorts and we were removed from the race along with everyone behind us.
This meant that I could not complete the final stage of the race which was really devastating for me, but there was nothing I could do as it wasnt my fault.
Besides having very bad luck this week, I cannot wait to get back out and race again in Europe. It was an amazing experience and I love the style of racing out there.
And as always a big thank you to Billy Bilsland Cycles for making sure my bikes were faultless for my trip, especially for fitting me in time on the new TT bike it was bliss
Thanks for reading,