On Saturday 9/7/16 the team raced GP Stad Sint Niklaas, A UCI 1.2 ranked event.
The team for the race was, Matt Zenovich, Pat Lane, Sean Lake, Mark Obrien, Neil Van Der Ploeg, Sam Crome and myself (Anthony Giacoppo). Staff on hand were ACJ, Neil Walker (mechanic), Abby and Steve (feeders).
The race was 5 laps of a 36km circuit which was predominately through the out skirts of a build up town so we knew that it was going to be very tight twisty and technical!With all the corners, bumpy roads, built up areas, traffic furniture, a mild cobble section and even a few train crossings combined it certainly did live up to expectations.
There was very little neutral in the race maybe 5-600 meters so it meant that the start was vital to be on the front row and ready to fire! we lined up with 6 of 7 riders on the front row, once the flag dropped it was on like donkey kong, there was attacks going left right and centre our guys were great in being represented in the front group. First off Zeno was up the road in a group of 3, the pelo started to chase but we got caught by one of the trains so had to wait at a crossing for it to pass, they did neutralise the front group and the pelo so no one gained any unfair advantage sometimes we’d have 3 or 4 in a group of 15. At one point even as good as having 6 in 20 odd maybe little too good as this could prove costly later in the race.
The bunch wasn’t really keen on letting a big group away and it seemed there was always a team or two that missed out added to that was the fact that the front group generally was to big or the mix just wasn’t right. Eventually roughly 70-80km in the main break of the day went it was a group of 20 in it we had Sean and Neil, they rather quickly went out to around 1 minute 20 seconds, the bunch briefly sat up which is why it went out so quickly, there were a few teams in this period that obviously realised they missed it so to the front they went and it was on again! Sitting 50+ km/h on these roads was fair solid as you can imagine there was lots of punching out of corners combined with the wind and the high speed it meant the bunch was single file for quite a lot of the race. I was rather glad we had our guys in the move so the majority of us could sit back and try our best to take it as easy as possible.
Being so fast and flat the race was quite tough to feed most teams were really struggling with getting bidons, going through the feed zone at 50-55km/h watching riders try to grab a biddon off a stationary person was funny to watch as bottles bounced out of hands and through the bunch, Our team tried to counter act this by feeding in different areas we had 3x designated areas which we looked at on the map prior to the race, this seemed easy at the time but once in the race we went around that many corners neither of us really had any idea as to where anyone was going to be so we had to keep our eyes peeled! We also had quite a few biddons dropped which definitely wasn’t as funny as when others dropped theirs!!! Our strike rate was definitely better than most though!
At around the 15km to go mark it was “gruppo comapcto” I personally wasn’t feeling the best but the boys decided to look after me and position me as best they could, Pat Lane reportedly said to Marko “Aj isn’t feeling good so he will probably win today” We hit the front at around the 5km to go mark with Mark setting a solid pace followed by Vandy then Sam then myself coming into 2.5km we go swamped by a number of teams from here it was up to Sam and Aj to get the Job done we fought on as best we could through the tight technical built up areas we eventually lost each other and had to fend for our selves which in hindsight was a much easier way to go! It was that messy that I can’t even explain it, at around 800m to go I was well out of position i’d say even 20-30th wheel I had to make some very evasive maneuvers to get myself into position. I ended up coming into the final corner 250m to go in 3rd wheel, then the sprint was on and the way we entered the corner was the way we finished.
The big win here is still eluding us and we are hoping its not too far away we have shown we can consistently be up there its just a matter of piecing it all together and getting it done.
Thanks to all the staff and sponsors for everything as without them none of this would be possible! Cheers AJ