29th July - Ronde Van Vlaams Brabant - Stage 4
After having a nightmare of a day on stage 3 I knew I had to do a decent ride on stage 4. A large break of around 15 riders formed early on and my team had 2 guys in it so it was a good situation to be in. It was extremely windy and Lotto were forcing the pace every lap on one long, exposed crosswind stretch of road. I knew it was better to be up the road than in the gutter each lap so with around 70km remaining I attacked with a handful of riders and we bridged 1'30 to the breakaway. I felt strong coming into the finish but with less than 5km to go we were swamped by the peloton.
5th August - Overijse - 7th
I'd raced the previous day but early on my di2 started playing up and after 1 hour in 53/11 I had to climb off. It was as if the battery died but I knew it was fully charged so it couldn't have been that, and every cable was plugged in. Half an hour after I'd stopped, it started shifting perfectly again... standard. I went for a ride the next morning, ran a diagnostics check on my laptop and it worked fine so I trusted it'd work in the race that afternoon.
I love racing on the roads near Overijse, it's quite hilly and it's an area I used to train in every other day when I lived in Ottenburg. I formed the break early on and we were soon out of sight. Sadly, however my gearing started playing up again. I could 'manage' throughout the race but with 5km to go it wouldn't budge out of 53/21. I was spinning my tits off following the late attacks and I knew a well-timed solo move around 2km to the finish would be perfect from a 10-man group. I attacked and got a good gap but I couldn't shift down and couldn't ride fast enough in the gear I was in. As soon as I was brought back a rider went over the top and solo'd to the win and I finished a disconsolate 7th. I didn't know whether to cry or punch something.
10th August - Halen - 11th
I really enjoy racing in bad weather, especially in Belgium, Belgians are notorious for cornering like they're on ice at the first sign of rain (at an amateur level at least). I was always towards the front and attentive until I relaxed a little too much and slipped to the middle of the bunch. As I started to move forward I saw a break of 5, containing 3 Lotto riders, scream off into the distance. I was left sprinting for minor places and finished 11th.
8th September - Herselt Koerse - 10th
Another wet race and one less than 10km from home. It was your typical end of season 'rolling' kermesse. Heavy roads, not a huge field, but an absolute death fest of attacks. I was aggressive early on and felt great but long story short, in typical fashion, I missed two golden opportunities to make the breakaway and was left riding round wondering how it all went so wrong. The best I could salvage was 10th.
I'm back in the UK now, re-adjusting to life at home. I could write a book about what it's like to live and race abroad, chasing a career in cycling. For now though I just want to thank the people in cycling that made the last three years possible.
First off is the Dave Rayner Fund, and in particular Joscelin Ryan and Chris Walker. The fund has supported me every year I've been in Belgium and it goes without saying that it would not have been possible without them.
|Click here for tickets to the dinner!|
Then there's the individuals and other companies that have helped me; GripGrab, PedalPotential, Benu Energy, Paul Haynes, Paul Lockett, Prendas and many more. There's been so many times where I've felt what I give back doesn't even come close to what they've given me.
Next is the team I've ridden for during the last two seasons; Goma Dakwerken, and my manager; Gerry Vande Pontseele. He gave me everything I needed to succeed; kit, transportation and a brilliant calendar. He picked me for team races time and time again when even I doubted my own abilities. Truthfully, I don't know why he did it, but I cannot thank him, the other staff members and my teammates enough.
Finally thank you to everybody I met in 2017 in connection with Cafe Surplace. Betty and Chris (the owners) helped me from the day I got there until the day I left. The lads I lived with made it a blast. Races, cafe rides, shopping, watching movies, cooking, they made everything more memorable and more enjoyable. The locals who were always friendly and supportive; Danny and Helene, Ingrid and Ruddy, Walter and Eline, Pascal and Heidi, Eddy and Mark and the rest. Finally, Isabeau and her mum, Miranda, who looked out for me on and off the bike and did more for me than I can ever thank them for. I cannot wait to see you all again next year.
|Click here to visit the team's website.|
Again, thank you to everyone who's supported me the last three years. I'm so grateful that I could experience so much and meet so many brilliant people. I'll never forget all that I've done and everyone that I've met.