There was defiantly a feeling of the day after Koksijde in my legs as I pre-rode the course for the SuperPrestige in Gieten. It’s the first time I’ve been there for about 5 seasons and the course is very different to the epic course used for World Championships in the past. Koksijde involved a lot of running as well as power in the very loose sand. With more than 400km’s in the van directly after, my legs didn’t feel exactly fresh.

To be honest I was pretty happy the Gieten course was somewhat easier than the last time I rode it, although the near storm force winds weren’t particularly helpful. When mixed with the rain it felt like a real cross race in terms of the conditions for the first time since the Gloucester GP nearly 2 months ago.

With Vos on the start again and a long road section it was always going to get going very quickly. I was 2nd off the road and settled into the lead group of 4 riders. I think everyone was feeling a bit of fatigue but after a lap, the race was at full pace and the 4 of us pulled away from the chasing group. On lap three of five, I lost contact with the back of the group by about 20 metres, but held that gap. Sanne van Paassen had a slip going onto a pave section of the course and came back to me while Vos and Daphny battled it out for the lead.

By the end of the lap I moved into 3rd on my own and set about moving away from the 7-way battle for 4th place. The weather only got worse but at the speeds we were doing the race passed very quickly and I finished 3rd behind two legends of the sport. Not a bad place to be and a good end to a hard weekend.

To do these two races, you have to undertake over 1000km’s on the road, 2 nights in hotels and very early mornings. I can’t say the logistics of it all were something that I particularly enjoyed but it was a valuable couple of races and gives me some great areas to work on. Riding wheel for wheel with the best in the sport is always good for morale and it’s nice to be back on the podium for the first time since Woerden.

The results for Koksijde and Gieten have left me in 5th place in the world ranking guaranteeing me a front row start at the next few races and World Cup in Namen. There are less than 10 weeks until the World Championships now and there is a lot of time to make positive changes and get closer the front few riders so I’m off to start the hard work now.

Helen

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