Thomas March 2013


My season this year started in March in Belgium this year supported by the LBTF fund and riding for the Bianchi, Lotto, NHT cycling team. I am living in a little village in Vorselaar near to the city of Antwerp. I arrived here on the 24th of February but I was ill with a chest infection so racing was postponed for a week or so which worked out well because there was a lot of snow at the time so races were being cancelled all over the place.

I spent the first two weeks here training indoors pretty much every day it was negative temperatures and snowing on and off all the time. After two weeks my chest infection had gone and it was time to start racing, I found a race close by on a Monday an the weather had got a bit better over the weekend the snow had gone but it was still cold that afternoon I set off to the race and on the way there it started to snow a bit and the get heavier and heavier I signed on and got changed and as we went to line up in the middle of a full blown snow storm the police cancelled the race so we packed up and went home.

Friday came and I had spoken with the team and the selected me to race at the U23 Hanzame classic I was extremely excited also worried my first race was going to be a big one I prepared properly and hoped just to finish. I was due to leave on the Thursday afternoon to a hotel near the start of the race so Thursday morning I had one last roller session before the race and whilst on the rollers another load of snow came down I was convinced the race was going to go ahead but when I got off the rollers I got a phone call explaining the race was cancelled. I planned to race again on Sunday but it was cancelled as well.

Finally the Monday after I got to race it was a local race 10 miles away from the house I arrived at the race and there were 170 guys who started the race was very open and it was a super windy day it was 13 laps of a 7 km lap with the back half of the course very open with a strong cross wind. The first thing I noticed about the race was the speed it was so much faster than at home the first 3 laps I was in the 53 12 spinning it doing 65kph at some points it was a big shock to the system after a winter of no racing. I tried to go with a few moves and stay up near the front but then with 6 laps to go the race went into the gutter and I fought for 3 laps or so along with all the other riders then I blew and shot out of the back I was devastated, later I found out that there was only 37 finishers in that race out of 170 starters and everyone blew at a similar time so I kept my chin up and looked to the next race.

The next race came and I travelled with the team I was comfortable the whole race and as the race started to split up I got myself towards the front of the bunch to try and get n one of the first splits. On one of the down hill sections with 2 laps to go I hit a big hole in the road and my rear tub went bang (it was flat instantly) I tried to ride and stay in the bunch because there was no service car but I could get one from the team near the finish but I couldn’t control it through the corners so I had to abandon the race.

The next Monday I attempted to race again 3rd time lucky the course was short pan flat and very open with a lot of wind. At about half way through the race the bunch split in half I found myself in the second half but jumped across to the first half in the cross wind but as I was getting on we turned into a head wind and I just wasn’t strong enough so I finished the race in the second half bout 1 minute down again I was disappointed but I latter spoke with my coach and she told me there were some strong guys in the race that had also not been able to make the split so I felt a little better and on Wednesday she had found me a race that would suit me a bit better with lots of corners and no long windy stretches but I had a bit more bad luck there I was up the front all race I missed the break but one of my team mates got into it so I thought would have ago at the bunch sprint for 9th hoping to et a top 30 but with 2 km to go I got stuck behind a crash and rolled in 149th out of about 300 starters.

Other than the bad luck and terrible weather in my first month I have enjoyed it very much, I have learnt a lot about racing hear and met some really nice people who are more than happy to help me where they can. Hopefully this next month will be easier as I get used to the speed of the races and distance of the bigger races, on Saturday I travel to the arden to do a hillier race and I also found out I made the team pre-selection for the under 23 liege-bastogne-liege so hopefully I will get picked to race there. This week I have also made it into the local paper after a short interview with a local photographer/reporter.I would also like to say a massive thank you to the Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fun for their support because without them I wouldn’t be here racing for the season.