European Campaign Update

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Fresh off the plane from the Tour of Japan and the Tour De Korea the team has quickly settled into the Belgium scene and into their busy race schedule. Getting starts over here is not easy but we have been surprised by the level of recognition the team has here. Apparently people know who we are! As a result this trip has some pressure as we want to show we can compete outside of Oceania and Asia. Our ambition is to animate the racing with our “never say die” approach. If we can do that whilst giving the boys a taste of what they can look forward to when they get to the big time plus get a result or two while we are here we will be pretty happy. The first race was the Tour De Savoie Mont Blanc. A UCI 2.2 tour in France that is well known for producing climbers of note.
Savoie was tougher than we’d imagined. Despite “doing our homework” the severity of the climbs was still a shock. “I ‘ve never seen anything like this its absolutely crazy” said Andrew Christie-Johnston. “The weather has been insane as well and it’s just added to the difficulty. ” The difficulty was further underlined by the number of DNF’s with more than a quater of the field failing to finish. Ben O’Connor was the stand out performer for the team finishing in 3rd place overall. Despite many of the guys still suffering significant fatigue from Japan they supported Ben the whole tour with Mark O’Brien proving a valuable lieutenant finishing 27th overall despite sacrificing his own opportunity to support Ben. Ben’s result against such quality competition will attract attention and only confirms for
us the massive potential this guy has.
Our second race was the 200km Halle Ingooigem. A UCI 1 .1 one day race in Belgium against the big boys. Quickstep, Lotto. FDJ and Cofidis were all present with the boys witnessing first hand the popularity of cycling in Belgium. Tom Boonen was on the start line as were many other cycling household names hightening the nerves for everyone. We were determined to show that we were not just a team that sits back in awe of the big teams and take the race on from the front. Sam Crome fresh off the biggest win of his career in Japan represented the team in the first break of the day which lasted over 1 00km. When that was caught Fraser and Neil VDP made it into the second move. A general re-grouping ensued and we made the mistake of missing the next move. So straight away the team
was on the front with FDJ who had also missed the move driving to get it back. Unfortunately we fell a little short at the finish with the break just hanging on to fight it out. All in all in was a really positive first cobbled/classic experience that will hold us in good stead for the next races coming up. In also gained us a lot of respect with many commenting on our strength and teamwork.
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