Sean Downey’s weekly blog

So Flanders had started well but finished badly. That hasn’t annoyed me too much. It was the race I was least looking forward to so it can only put me in the right frame of mind for the next two races.

Monday: Today we packed up from the hotel in Belgium and drove to France to our new hotel. Normally I would be thinking its France, another bad hotel but to my surprise the hotel is good, so it’s starting well. When we got here we got some lunch, then headed out for a spin. We got to ride part of the course and by the looks of things it’s going to be a killing session. Very open, windy and small steep hills, all good lol! I did a 30 minute effort to keep the legs awake and they were feeling good, so it’s all good in the hood !

Tuesday: Race warm up today, so we headed over to the finishing circuit to check it out.There are two climbs on it, after the finish and then a drop in to the finish and a little flat bit with a strong head wind. So it looks like it’s going to be fun. The legs are feeling good and I am ready for the race bring it on!

Wednesday: Race day! Luckily the wind died down which would make it a little easier. From the start of the race everyone was very nervous. It was always a fight to stay at the front. There were quite a few crashes, one causing the bunch to split. I was in the second group but everyone helped out and caught the front group. Half way into the race we hit the hills. They weren’t very long but they were quite steep although it still didn’t break the bunch. There was a lot of attacking jumping around, we got to the finishing circuit and had two laps to do of a hard circuit. There were two hard hills each of them were 2k long and then downhill to the finish. I was always at the front staying out of trouble. On the second lap the bunch split. On the first climb I was in the front group. We got over the second climb then on the descent we were caught again and it finished in a bunch sprint. I was fighting like hell. I really wanted a top 20 but there was nearly a crash on one of the roundabouts and I lost the group. I rolled in 36th, not great but I was in the race !

Thursday: When we had all finished our breakfast, we headed to Holland for the last of the races. ZLM is the name of the race. We travelled for around 4 hours and went under a tunnel which was 6.6 km long under water, which is quite cool. When we got a bit to eat we headed out for a short spin to loosen up from the race and the travel. It was quite hard finding a good way because in Holland you are not allowed to cycle on the road, just bike paths. So we were going round in circles, not!

Friday: Race warm up. Out for a group ride, nice and easy and thank god. We found a bike path that went on for a long time – not riding around in circles like yesterday – so we got a good wee spin in. The rest of the day was chilling and having the craic with the lads.

Saturday: ZLM race day. This is the last of the Nations Cup races for a while, so I really wanted to do something today. Everything started very good. I was always at the front of the bunch, in the cross wind sections up at the very front, saving as much energy as I could. It was a funny race the last time I rode it, the race blew to bits. It stayed together for most of the race this year, so we got to the finishing circuit and then the wind picked up. Some of the big teams were at the front driving it, to bring back the breakaway. This caused the bunch to break up and I was in the front group. Starting the last lap there were around 30 of us in the front group and I was feeling good and wanted a big result, but with 5km to go disaster struck. A big German came up the inside of me causing me to flick out and hit the back of another rider, breaking a spoke in my wheel. I didn’t stop for a new wheel.If I did I would have never got back up, so I let my brakes off and pushed on, even though my wheel was wobbling all over the place. Then with 2km to go I hear this massive bang at the front of the bunch. The crash took quite a few down. I ended up on top of their bikes and this really was GAME OVER. So out of the three races, there was always a problem, but they say bad luck comes in threes, so my bad luck has run out. Bring on the good stuff !

Sunday: The day was spent travelling back to base in France. I had to get two trains and a taxi but I had it all mapped out and everything went smoothly. That was very good because I was thinking it was going to be a nightmare, but all is good !


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