Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Update part 6 - Lotto Tour in Belgium

After Sweden we had a long transfer to the Lotto Decca Tour in Belgium, with a stopover in Denmark. Since we were going to pass through Northern Germany and to get a break from the intense atmosphere, I thought to take the train up to visit my dad and his wife for a few relaxed days of training. It was a welcome change and I enjoyed a few very nice and chilled days with good food, quality training and great company. My dad and I even got to share a swim in the beautifully relaxing sea. Oh how I miss the sea swims! Also, for the first time in a long time I found that I could actually push myself again in training, able to push out some high intensity.

Team presentation at the Lotto Tour in Belgium

After this break I made the two day trip by train to the camping site in France, where the team was staying for the duration of the Lotto Decca Tour. The tour started with another TTT and though some good signs were coming from my legs, one week of relaxation and good training did not magically make my form reappear to what it should be. So again I was nervous and the course was quite technical too. In short, I got dropped again at about the 5km mark. The rest of the tour was 3 road stages. I started the next stage and was doing OK until there was a big crash at a bridge just before the major climb of the course that I got caught behind. A settled into one of the chase groups and we nearly got back on, but my legs were not going as hard as I wanted them too and I got dropped on the climb, forming another little chase group with 2 girls. But then I hit one of the cobbled sections at high speed into a corner and washed out, getting dropped from those girls too. I was swallowed up by the largest dropped group on the road and came home with them. We were pulled one lap to go, but got a placing. Obviously I was not impressed with my performance, and I was very frustrated. My form wasn't there and I shouldn't be racing.
Caught behind a crash at the bottom of the climb

Stage 3 was a flat stage and I was instructed to attack to try and get away. I tried a few fruitless attempts and nearly made it over to one of the girls that successfully stayed away for most of the race, but I didn't have the power to make it across before the chasing bunch swallowed me again. Then I was caught again behind a crash and I think my mind just broke then and there. I wasn't even able to pull together the power to chase back on after all my breakaway attempts. I never made it back on and was pulled with a lap to go, DNF. This meant I wasn't going to start the last stage that went up the famous Koppenberg, but to be honest, I don't think I would have made it up it. I felt I had let myself and my team down and all I wanted to do was go home and curl myself up under my duvet cover and cry. I discussed things with my team director and thought it was best to go home early and skip the next few races I was down to do so that I don't drag the team down with my frustration. I wished my team luck and left the next day to spend the day in Brussels where I spent the night before my flight home the next day. In Brussels I made the best of my situation and played indulging tourist, I think I had Belgian chocolate, Belgian icecream AND Belgian waffles all in one day. And I loved it. Walking around Brussels also did wonders for my head and everything already looked a little less bleak by the time I went back home to Ireland.

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