The 5th Prijs Stad Roeselare was the race on Easter Sunday. We discovered that the Easter bunny paid us a visit the night before! Yum chocolate, saved it for post race:). After a quick breakfast, all the riders and staff piled into the 3 car Canadian convoy. We were very close to having a 1-1 ratio of actual riders to staff, too funny.
The race was 135 km long, featuring 2 loops of 3 hills back to back about halfway through the race. The first two were steep asphalt and the third was the famous cobbled Kemmelberg climb, very steep at 22%!
The race started out with the usual craziness, avoiding people, poles, curbs, motorbikes… etc. The motorbikes were especially scary today. I guess they didn’t have too many available, so they would have to ride through the pack in order to close the roads up ahead. The thing is that girls work hard to have good position in the pack and will not easily give it up, even to a honking motorbike! I saw a girl crash with a motorbike last year and have been a bit freaked out about them since, I always move over!
The race picked up going into the climbs. The first climb was so annoying. I guess a few girls a bit overgeared and caused the slowest uphill crash ever. This resulted in nobody being able to pass and girls having to run up the hill with their bikes! I somehow did a track stand and managed to sneak through without having to resort to running. This pile up was not advantageous, as the leaders didn’t get stuck behind all that mess and gained some time there. I chased as hard as I could up the second climb, eventually making it back to the main group right before the Kemmelberg. I was just on the back going over the very top, and unfortunately took a few bad lines through the twisty descent and found myself a bit off the back at the bottom, oh no.
I chased with another rider, but the group kept getting further away.. oh no oh no! We still had another lap of the hills to go. With some of the best climbers in the world up to road, this put the chances of chasing back on not too likely. At least Joelle was climbing like a rockstar today and made the front group, good to have some Canadian representation up the road! We were caught by a small chase group going into the climbs. Here I found Leah G. who had also gotten held up by the earlier crash. From this point my race wasn’t too eventful. Our group rode a decent pace to get back to the finish.
They pulled our group off the course in the finishing laps so we wouldn't run into the other group. I was a bit confused when people started sprinting. Hmm.. sprinting for a DNF? Looking at results later I figured out that they actually still gave us placings with a time..haha that explained the sprinting.
Amber Neben rode really strong and attacked through the circuits and won solo with Joelle finishing in the group just behind. I rolled in 73rd/ 155 starters.
The biggest bummer of the day was the death of Julia’s bike. Someone very sadly fell over on to it during all the climbing madness. Somehow the force of this person falling actually fully broke the rear part of her frame in two pieces, so crazy! She's had to ride the little 49 cm spare bike lately, very euro. It's a bit small considering she usually rides a 56 cm frame.
Next stop: Luxembourg for a team time trial and two more road races! After I'll be flying down to Colombia for the Pan Am championships. I hear that Pan Ams can be a super crazy experience. I’m excited to meet and race with Clara Hughes, a fellow Winnipegger!
Here’s a link for an article on Karlee and I from the Winnipeg Free Press if anyone’s interested in some extra reading material: