UCI World Cup #3, Houffalize BEL, 03.05.2009

05. May 2009 01:20

UCI World Cup #3, Houffalize BEL, 03.05.2009

10th place 6th in the UCI World Cup Overall Ranking

The morning of my home World Cup race I got up with a strong believe that I would do a great race! After the two first WC rounds I got into the rhythm of “big boys’ racing” again and so, after stepping up from 9th to 7th place last week, I definitively aimed for the podium this time.

I eventually finished 10th. I must admit that I am not satisfied with this position because I really expected to do better. But sometimes this is just the way it is: you feel strong and in good shape, you’re well prepared and still things just don’t work out as you have planned them. (Apart from this there are some guys in front of you just being a bit stronger then you are).

This is how the race unfolded:
I survived the long hard start climb well and entered the first decent in around 10th position. The interesting fact is that, while in the past I always had to enter the first downhill with the very first riders and almost panicked when I wasn’t among them, this year I still feel comfortable when sitting a few positions behind. I have such a good feeling riding this Scalpel and together with the Schwalbe tires… it seems to make the perfect match for me! Riding this bike feels specially secure and stable that I can now even make up positions in the downhill sections!

After a while I sat in a group with Hermida and Absalon in 5th to 8th position and felt pretty comfortable with the pace and rhythm we set. Until Kurschat moved up.  Once he had passed me, my own race was actually more or less sealed. I couldn’t keep his pace in the ascents, but as I got back to him in the downhills, I was also stuck behind him because we were too slow due to his lack of technical skills. We lost contact to the other guys and I got dropped.

Soon after I partnered up with Tempier who was riding strong that day. With 1,5 laps to go Stephane Tempier crashed in front of me, I got stuck again, lost about 10 to 15 sec and were passed by my team-mate Marco Aurelio Fontana and Milatz. Eventually I finished the race in 10th place. As I have said before, I am not satisfied with my placement despite the fact that I moved up to 6th place in the World Cup overall ranking.

Once again, Houffalize lived up to its reputation… unique race, many many spectators, great atmosphere, lots of fans and friends around! Some really special guests were showing up at the Cannondale team truck. My former great team-mate Jakob Fuglsang came to see the new Cannondale Factory Racing team and brought nobody less than his Saxo Bank team-mate Andy Schleck along!

And last but not least, it was time to say farewell to Filip Meirhaege and so people were giving a nice party for him. Filip is looking back on an eventful career. He is not stopping with cycling completely, but nevertheless: all the best for the future, Filip!