So I went.
Too early. My legs were still in a lot of pain from the effort I made to close down 2 riders a few moments before. Not long before I would start to fade. Doesn't matter. Just keep going, maybe only a few will pass and you'll be in the top 3 or 4. The pain got worse, but a quick glance down showed that no wheels were passing yet. When are they coming? Why are they taking so long? Could it be..?
There's no better feeling than winning.
All the pain, struggling and suffering of the race long forgotten whilst you speed across a white line, one hand fist-pumping the air, screaming a long YEEEEESSSSS!! that turns into a laugh because you still can't believe this just happened.
But more was forgotten as I crossed that line. All the set-backs, crashes and low moments of the year suddenly vanished. This win wasn't going to make up for everything I lost this year, but it made me realize what I had won; an incredible team and the most amazing friends.
As I was sitting on the pavement still catching my breath, a horde of black and yellow guys attacked me, screaming and shouting as if they had won themselves. Meron kept banging my helmet so hard and often that I was sure this would be my 5th broken helmet of the year. Celebrations continued with a coke shower (no champagne was present at that point) and endless hugs.
I got to admit I felt a bit guilty. They set everything up for me, did all the hard work. They were the true heroes. Ollie driving the break like a madman, Metkel covering all the attacks, while I got ridden out the back numerous times and the other 3 keeping everything under control in the peloton.
The next few days were a blur. Lots of interviews, lots of time spent in the car and lots of sad good-byes. But it was a wonderful way to end the season that I had already declared to be over 6 weeks before.
Never give up hope. Low points can only last so long. At some point it has to go up again.
As for now my goal will be to arrive in France next year as tanned as possible.
Happy holidays, merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to you all.
Ciao until next year.
|Finish line so close but yet so far|
|Gap slowly increasing|
|The real heroes! and my second family.|
|The Green Beard himself. Men from Nam|
|Lots of TV time and media attention|
|Marianne Vos was there too|
|With Ollie, Maritza and Stevie G|