At last, a rest! September had come and eventually a month off, well of sorts. I still wanted to keep sharp even though my body and my mind were telling me to have rest. My A-Levels have started: Maths, Further Maths, Physics and PE, so plenty to keep the mind sharp and focused and the work was certainly piling up.
With regards to racing I entered the last in the Colchester Centurion series, as it was the final round of the Eastern Region Series Championships. Not a big field entered but I sat in the bunch for the first few laps and then decided to go, putting a lap into the bunch and then sitting in for the final sprint to take first over the line. A sort of Crit Race Points Race! The Welwyn Open was good to ride in but the legs were not there, and I could feel the fatigue. Still two wins out of the four races. So, off the bike and rest.
Then my team gave me a call and asked if I fancied a Kermesse in Belgium, travel over Saturday and then race Sunday. I wasn’t going to turn this down. We headed over on the Saturday to see the Juniors race and get a feel for how it worked, I had raced once before there but for the other three; Paul, Charlie, and Colin it would be their first time. We watched the race and then changed in the back of the van to ride back to Kortrijk as a warmup for the next day.
We were staying just off the main square in Kortrijk and we wandered down that evening for a pizza and a chill out with the Juniors, hearing stories from previous races and tours they had done, it sounded amazing fun and we were raring to go.
Sunday, we woke up and packed the van and headed off to Tielt, just North of Kortrijk. We parked up and was suddenly amazed by the pick-up trucks moving cars off the course for an U17 race. I was loving this. The course itself set off up a main straight and then headed into town over a cobbled corner in front of the church and then out into the countryside. It was a 70-strong bunch and it was great to be racing with lads in the same colour as me. Team racing. Each lap had a Prime and Charlie and I were quickly into the mix for these, taking 1st and 2nd as we crossed the line. Just 8 more laps to go. I worked out pretty quickly the course and was feeling super strong, even after not riding for a few weeks.
Then the last lap. I knew coming into the last corner, if I led into it, I would have the chance to smash it up the finish straight and take the win. I moved up through the cobbled corners and went to the front, with my Team mate and NSR rider Charlie Abraham on my wheel, this was good, we powered through the shopping mall and then into the right hander. The kerb was 2ft high on the left and only one car could get through. I hit it spot on, as did Charlie, but Charlie eased off in the corner, giving me an amazing gap of another 5 to 10 meters. Out of the saddle on the uphill rise I went. Crossing the line first I was delighted, but also for Charlie who punched the air in 6th. We had won as a team, and this felt great.
Trophy, flowers, and a few Euros better off, I took the Podium and was then interviewed, it felt very pro. I was then interviewed for a local paper, the reporter said he knew I was going to win when he saw my number. It was number 51, he asked if I knew why? I said No. He said Eddy Merckx wore the number 51 in his first Tour de France win, so it was destiny! I love the Flandriens!
I was sent a copy of the post later that week and they had called me the Emperor of Tielt. Pretty cool, eh!
So off for frijtes and a very happy van home. Massive thanks to Bob and the Team at LVYCC for sorting the trip, to Dad for driving and for my teammates for the support and a lot of fun. It also assured me that I made absolutely the right decision to stay with Lee Valley, it feels like home and they are a great family.
Now into October and November I have winter training and GB camps thick and fast so the Track Bike is back out and it is Team Pursuit all the way.
Finally, a massive shout out to Highway Cycles who have just supported me with the most amazing Trek Emonda SLR7 Project One. It is amazing. Thank you so much guys and to all those who continue to support me.
One thought on “The Emperor of Tielt”
So, a new nickname then! A fantastic write up and the Trek looks great. What a team!