Helen - Baal - Bart Raeymaekers 9 My final two races of the heavy Kerstperiode schedule were back-to-back races in Belgium and Holland. The penultimate BPost Bank series in Baal is always a tough affair. On the side of hill and always muddy even with the slightest of rain, there is the chance for big time gaps. With the classification being based on time over the complete series, every second counts. I was still pretty bashed up from my crash in Leuven, my knee was painful and swollen so it was certainly a case of making the most of a bad situation for me.

I got a good start and actually led the race through the first pit area. But at the key point I just wasn’t able to put the power out I wanted to. I settled into a steady rhythm my body was happy with and I managed to ride parts of the course others couldn’t so I’m happy with that. In the end I didn’t loose too much time, and took 3rd place on the day. I guess the podium is what we aim for as racers, so it was a good outcome. A little bit of me thinks it was an opportunity missed. I’ve also held onto 3rd in the overall classification.Helen - Baal - Bart Raeymaekers 7

We then got in the camper and drove four hours north for a race in Surhuisterveen. This is a cool little race around a lovely Dutch town. It’s free to watch for spectators and a lot of the town come out and give their support. A lot of the course is on road, including a trip down the high street to start and finish, with Dutch cyclist of the year Anna van der Breggen on the start line, it was never going to be an easy task to out ride a roadie. That proved to be the case and with my knee and hip much better than the previous day, I chose pretty quickly to ride a comfortable race for 2nd, rather than risk a silly crash or slip that might hold me back at nationals this coming weekend.Helen - Baal - Bart Raeymaekers 14

So now it’s a week of training and travelling as we head to Shrewsbury in the UK for the National Championships. I’ve never raced on the course before so I’m interested to see what it’s like, but it should be a good battle for the right to wear the stripes in 2016.

Results – Baal 1 January
1 – Sanne Cant
2 – Ellen Van Loy
3 – Helen Wyman
4 – Sophie De Boer
5 – Pavla Havlikova

Results – Surhuisterveen 2 January
1 – Anna van der Breggen
2 – Helen Wyman
3 – Joyce Vanderbeken
4 – Lizzy Witlox
5 – Fleur Nagengast