As it turned out my sickness I had caught after Morocco wasn't just a little flu but pneumonia. The doctor said that it didn't look so bad at first so we hoped it would go away by itself, but it didn't get better at all so some days later I was on penicillin.
Bad timing because the only 2 one day races that I've been looking forward to this whole year were about to come up - GP Herning in Denmark and Rutland Melton Cicle Classic in England. Why was I looking forward to them? They featured lots of gravel sections. Pure carnage promised! So again, why was I looking forward to them? Honestly I don't know, normally they wouldn't suit me that much but on a good day I could definitely be up there and in that case races like those are a lot of fun!
Unfortunately I wasn't even close to being ready when the races arrived. Nonetheless I was still buckled up in the car driving to Denmark, hoping I could do at least 1 or 2 races the following weekend.
The pneumonia was stubborn though and took its time to go away. Finally 2 weeks after we had finished the Tour du Maroc I could climb on my bike and start training again. Still feeling tired and very uncomfortable on the bike for the next couple of days though.
The Saturday before my legs still felt absolutely terrible on the pre-race ride though and the weather hadn't been that great all week either.
But by Sunday the sun came out, however the cold wind still made for a crisp start at 2 in the afternoon.
I was at the back in the neutral zone but sneaked past everyone on a bike path and started the race in the first 10 positions, which was perfect as had the breakaway in mind. A few attempts were made to get into the break but soon I realized I didn't have the legs to follow many more moves (no surprises there...), so the break left without me a little while later.
Probably a good thing because it was quite relaxed in the peloton for a long time.
Never in the whole race did I feel overly great, but strange enough I always hung in there.
At one point we wanted to move to the front, I got boxed out just before a narrow turn and had to watch my own team putting me into the gutter together with team Trefor. Of course I wasn't the leader so it was a good move by them but if the wind was any stronger or the roads didn't turn early enough into a tailwind I might not have made it, because at some point I was looking back and there weren't many guys left behind me. And I didn't even start that far back.
Although there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on in the peloton I felt really comfortable right in the middle of it, just going with the flow. Strange, because normally I get very nervous when there's so much movement in the pack.
Even the many crashes which occurred on the finishing circuit didn't make me nervous. The climb to the finish was however, as I felt my power decreasing every time we went up again.
Finally with one lap to go the elastic snapped and I was left alone. Not a bad thing necessarily as 5km before the finish I passed some riders that were still down on the ground due to a horrific crash. Plus I didn't think I'd finish at all, so job done.
|Traveling like big boys in a big bus|
|Chatting to a mate I met in Morocco|
A very difficult decision followed on weather I should do Tour of Iran or stay home. I chose the latter and had some relaxed days that finally gave me the chance to recover fully. My dad came to visit too, which was great of course since I don't see my family much.
|Selfie time with dad|
Tour de Bern followed and I barely had a week and a half of proper training in the legs. But racing is the best training so I was keen.
Normally the course would've suited my likes, with a steep, long-ish climb at the beginning of the lap and not many flat meters on the rest, however a few kg above my racing weight and no training it was a punishing circuit.
The first 3 laps were hard on my morale. I'm used to getting to the top of the climb in a better position than I started it. Here however I was going into the climb in 15th position and over the top in 110th, sometimes already being gapped. I always made it back afterwards but it wasn't easy.
Lap 4 out of 5 then saw the field explode into pieces and as I was "standing like a bucket" on the climb again, as my teammate would say, I had many groups to catch again before I came to the one where many of my teammates were left.
We started chasing and I buried myself a few more times in attempt to bring the race back together, but it was all for naught and we turned into the grupetto by the time the last lap commenced. Even then I had trouble making it over the climb, but was happy enough to finish another race where I wasn't sure before if I could make it.
|Spirits high despite bad legs|