From the "we knew him when files," here's a look back at the Euro Cross Camp Diary that Joe Dombrowski kept here on GamJams during his first forays into European racing. Today he's aiming to reclaim the Maglia Rosa on the Gavia in the U23 Giro. I bet Sven Nys is relieved that Joe took to the road.
Alright, so first international elite race, check that off the list. Wednesday was Noordzecross in Middlekerke. The U-23 and Elite fields were combined for this one. While not all the top riders were there, I knew that finishing on the lead lap would be no easy task. Not only was I lined up on the very last row, the laps were very short; we did ten in the elite race.
The whistle blows and off we go down the 300 meter tailwind start straight. With 50 meters to go to the first corner, the game of chicken begins. Guys here like to late-brake and cut everyone in the first corner. It's like 100 kamikazes flying in full tilt, waiting to dive bomb the first corner. In order to be successful, particularly from the back row, you have to be the latest of these late-brakers; a bit of a dangerous task, but an easy way to pick up twenty spots. Somehow, everyone always seems to keep it upright.
The course was pretty much dead flat, with three very dramatic climb-u-turn-descents. I steadily worked my way up through the pack and eventually settled into a group with some of the other Americans. I look up at the lap card after what seemed like an eternity, and saw six to go. As each lap passed I was making up a few spots, and riding solid lines.
You know the leaders are descending upon you when you hear the roar of the fans. The Belgian fans discriminate; they cheer for their favorites and stand silently for everyone else. With two to go, I was hearing the rolling tunnel of noise as Nys and Meeusen flew by in the opposite direction. At that point, I was thinking I just might make it; I had a bit of a cushion with two to go.
Coming up on one to go, I felt a little squish in my front tire. By the time I roll into the pits, my front tire was totally flat. I missed my bike. So I ran, on some futile mission to make it to the line before Sven Nys would roll in for the finish. He caught me on the run-up. Game over.
Tomorrow is the Superprestige in Diegem. This is my favorite course for sure. The race is situated in the middle of city and the circuit features cobblestone climbs, back-alley chutes, a 100 meter sandpit, and some ripping descents. I'm hoping for a good ride here because I feel the course really suits me with all the climbing.
I've had a few days off since the first couple races to rest up for the next big block. The mechanics have been setting up my wheels. After the cold and snow a week ago, things are starting to thaw out. The Dugast Rhinos should do the job tomorrow in the mud.
Joe Dombrowski (Haymarket / Homevisit) is at Euro Cross Camp for the second year in a row in 2009. You can follow all of his entries beginning last season here. Leave him a comment on GamJams - he'd love to hear from you.