So the morning stage started out easy enough with katusha keen to control from the gun for there man kristof whom was leading the race and indeed went onto win the stage. You know you are starting to gain your racing rythm when the bunch is roleing along at 50kmph and it feels normal so it was a relief to be enjoying this feeling as appose to the tank running empty struggle st feeling i had felt for the first half of the race. We did a lovely little circuit through the felmish country side before entering the finish lap around de panne itself. This circuit had its usual vast amount of rd furniture to avoid but also they threw in perhaps the craziest of them all, tram tracks! As we rounded a corner at 60kmph with 5km to go not only did the the rd half in its width but also running down the rd was 3 sets of tram lines or 6 in total. Consequently bikes were hopping and bouncing around left right and centre and while it only lasted 1km or so it was certainly a monsterous relief to get out the other side without meeting the pavement. It also became evident that we were not even on a rd, they had litteraly sent us down a tram only area so i gues i should be greatfull to the organises that there ensured no trams needed there stretch of tracks at that time!! In the rain the mind boggles at what could have occured. Anyway we all pretty much got accross the line safely and my team mate aaron kemps finished inside the top 10 in the sprint and is improving his placing every day so can expect a big result from him in the future. As the team spends some more time together also we will be able to assist him alot more which will help him alot, being a new group and specially in the european peleton we need to work really hard on working as a team as the big teams do it exceptionally well, anyways step by step but as always safety in numbers and as we learn to move about as one which comes with confidence and trust in each other we will inturn make some good improvements i feel.
In the afternoon was the more straightforward 15km time trial which before the race i had been looking forward to for a few reasons, 1st to test our new kestral TT rig and 2nd as i had done some good work on the TT early in the year and wanted to see if i was at all competative. after being left pretty empty following the 1st 3 stages i knew the TT was going to be a major suffer fest and thats how it turned out. in the end in a TT you can only give all you have and accept the result you achieve, in the end i was 1min of sylvain shavanel, i can perhaps see where i could have improved a bit but 1' gap i think i would have had trouble doing on a motor bike let alone a TT bike, he was certainly a class above. After he the 2nd place getter louie vuestra the field was with 35 sec to me in 23rd so i am atleast satisfied i was not completely out the back door and have a nice marker to improve on.
I am now off to tenerife for 2 weeks of altitude training with Ivan Basso to start preparing for the hilly stage races i have coming up, races which i feel will suit me a little more and especially with the amount of suffering i have had over the past few days in belgium i feel it has certainly sent some good reminders to my muscles and lungs of what is required at this level.
Time to get back on a plane
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