By Matt Zenovich
The kermis course was not as technical as the day before but as we checked out the final we discovered it gets better…. The boys were getting real excited as they discovered the final km was up hill but more on that later.
A quick way to describe a kermis race here in Belgium is “full gas”, there is no neutral and as soon as the whistle is blown attacks come thick and fast. A kermis is usually raced on a 7-15km circuit and usually covers about 150km. The team had 6 starters, AJ, Crome, Vandy, Pat L, Marko and myself (Zeno). We had all raced the day before so for some of us today’s race was gonna hurt but for the boys that pulled up well after Sint Niklaas they were getting g’eed up for the race.
The course was really simple the start finish was at the top of a 700m climb which got steeper as you climbed closer to the finish, the rest of the course was pretty flat with a few fast sections and smooth big roads. The race was a matter of survival and using your energy wisely as it was pushing 30 degrees and clear skies, very direct sun so hydration was key. As a team we had the race well covered no move in the first few laps was missing a rider from the Avanti IsoWhey team. After 3-4 laps there was a deciding split which included AJ, Marko, Pat L and myself (Zeno). It was a group of around 25 riders and all were rolling well. It wasn’t until about 6 laps to go until the throw down started, a few of the big hitters in the race which included Lars Boom one of the worlds best riders, started to put the axe down.
Eventually the race was down to 6 riders 4 of which were pro and two continental riders which included 2 riders from Astana pro team, one rider from lotto NL jumbo, one rider from Wanty Group, one from Veran Classic and myself. At this point of the race I was drinking one 700ml bottle of IsoWhey electrolyte per lap as the temperature seemed to have risen during the race. On the last lap my group was the only group left on the road all the other groups had either pulled out of the race or been told by race officials to stop. The attacks started coming from Lars boom they were very strong attacks but I had him covered unfortunately it was going to affect me later as I countered one of his attacks but the covering I did before hand took away some of the HP from my legs so what could have been a winning attack turned into a 1km solo effort that was shut down by Astana. With only 2km to go in the race that attack took the firepower out of my legs and by the time the sprinting started on the final climb I simply didn’t have the legs to follow.
The rider from Wanty group took out the win which was also in his home town so he was over the moon! The rider from Lotto NL Jumbo in second and Lars Boom of Astana Pro Team in third. I rolled over the line in 5th place. Next time I think I’ll save my legs a little more so when my counter attack or final sprint comes, it has the HP it was missing after making a few mistakes earlier on. That win is just around the corner.