Off we go. Van packed, with the team Zing Supremes and three youth riders Alex Braybrooke, Adam Hartley and Matt Walls onboard and en route to Belgium for a weekend of top quality racing against the best on the continent.
Day 1. First stop Ichtegen, 10 km South of Bruges for a 48 km crit. With 109 riders we were in for a fast and furious race. With very impressive organisation the race started bang on time, a rolling start behind the lead vehicle. In the first lap of 8 laps – each of 6.5 k, we were right to expect a fast start with the more experienced riders trying to split the very large peleton as early as possible. This proved the right tactic, with rider after rider being shelled out the back and this continued until lap 4. At half way all three Velocity boys remained in the main peleton, with Alex and Matt in particular looking prominent at the front.
The peleton was now down to a group of 40 from the initial 109. Lap 5 and a big attack was put in by Alex, stringing out the rest and breaking the group in half. It lasted just over a lap, with Matt in the front group, and Adam within the second group. It takes a lap for the second group to catch the front group , and inevitably this effort takes it toll. Two laps to go and off goes Alex again, bringing another UK rider Joe Fry with him, and this was to prove the decisive move , and with another two riders bridging the gap, these 4 battled to the end. In the uphill finish, one rider dropped, and Alex finished an excellent 3rd in the sprint finish. Meanwhile leading the remaining bunch to the top of the hill was Matt, who in his first year managed to finish a very commendable 10th. Adam just missed the final break ,and came in behind the leading group, to finish 40th, a great result for a first year.
Day 2 , held in Moerkerke 10km North of Bruges meant it was non stop in Belgium. This was a different type of race, 60 riders in a town centre crit, 16 laps of 3.3 km, 53 km in total. Again, perfectly organised and off they go like clockwork. This race started very fast, with attack after attack , again smashing the peleton to bits, after 2 laps, down to 20 riders, and after 6 laps down to 12 riders, with Adam now in the second bunch of 15 riders. This time it was Matt who looked strong in the pack, and attacked pulling out a lead of 50m. In the second group, Adam looked comfortable and well positioned if another split occurred. So into the final lap and Matt attacked with 1 km to go, but this proved too early, with most of the riders timing the final sprint a bit closer to home, including Alex who again rode very confident and finished 8th, with Matt a few places back in 12th. As the second bunch sprinted to the line, Adam pulled out one final effort to finish 4th in the sprint, and 18th overall.