As I look outside this morning, the day after possibly….ok the hardest race I’ve ever done, it has started to snow. The past 3 days have been a day of firsts. First race ever in Belgium, first spring classic, first time riding on cobbles, and first time ever racing in conditions below 10 degrees Celsius. Coming from Australia, training in Girona for the past 2 weeks in 12-16 degrees has been quite cold. Arrive in Belgium, on Friday afternoon to 1 degrees = shock to the system. A good shock as strange as that sounds. I like new challenges, and for me was definitely a challenge. Never before have I raced against so many girls in such tough conditions, and before the start of the race, Ronny our DS said it would be a race of attrition. And that it was.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks the first of the spring classics, and closely resembles the Flanders course at the end of March. So what were we in for when we lined up at the start line in chilly 2 degrees outside of Ghent? 125km with eight short, tough climbs including the Kluisberg, the Paterberg and the Molenberg. This course just further highlighted a key point in bike racing, positioning is key, and toughness is everything. I fought most of the race for positioning, and found myself “riding blind” as I call it. It’s when you really have no idea what is coming up in a race. You can look at a course profile all you like, but really, if you haven’t ridden the roads, you have no idea what to expect. Well, you have some idea something important is about to happen when speed suddenly increases 10-15km/h and everyone is sprinting full gas into a right turn, then BAM cobble climb…oh dear, hello lactic acid. I now have a bit of an understanding why spectators and riders have this absolute love for the classics. Because only one word describes it, EPIC. So much is going on, and so many variables are thrown at you that you can’t help but love it. Sport is war, and that’s exactly how I would describe racing a spring classic.