Boortmeerbeek – May 1st

said that we learn most from our mistakes. 

In one of my first kermesse races of
the year I certainly learnt my lesson. After the usual hectic start I missed the race winning move. Maybe it was fate. After some great Isorex
teamwork, softening the peloton I launched an attack only to suffer a
mechanical. With no neutral service available my race was cut short, this
wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because I had taken a lot physically and
mentally from those kilometres whilst being able to recover to go again the
next day and really aim for a result.

East Flanders Provincial Championships, GP Vistamedia, Hamme –
May 2

the previous day’s lesson the goal was to make the break and with the start
line dominated by Topsport Vlaanderen and Lotto Soudal riders the plan was
clear, if there’s a move with both team represented, be in it, simple.

the race starting as predicted with one attack following the next I picked my
battles, going with the moves that looked threating but keeping my powder dry.
When Lotto Soudal’s Jesse Vandenbulcke and Topsport Vlaanderen’s Gilke Croket
attacked I was straight on it. With barely a 5m gap established I pulled
through immediately increasing that gap by a further bike length and before we
knew it we were away. With over 60km still to ride we were in it for the long
haul. With the gap to the main peloton steadily growing we were joined by a
trio of riders – Sylvia Debboudt, Isabelle Becker and sprinter Kim De Batt.

the last 20km cramp spread like the plague through my hamstrings, I remained
poker faced not wishing to divulge my internal torment. With the bunch at bay
and my breakaway companions among the best in the field my attention turned to
the finish and the inevitable attacks to be launched along the way. Experience
told me that I would have to stay planted in the saddle all the way to the
line, jumping out of the saddle would almost certainly lead to instantaneous
loss of leg function. With the calibre of riders around me I knew to succeed I
would have to use brains as well as brawn more than ever. The sprint was opened
up early with a couple ofriders
going for a long one. I remained patient, scanning everything happening aroundme. As the best sprinter in the race
Kim De Batt made her move I was straight on her wheel, staying in the saddle we
were moving clear the others. Gritting my teeth I wasn’t quite able to take Kim
on the line but held off a late surge from Lotto Soudal’s Isabelle Becker.

Kim De Batt not eligible for the provincial championship due to her team being
based outside of East Flanders I was announced champion. Of course I wanted to
cross the line first but the East Flanders jersey that I wear for the next year
means a lot, not least to myself and the team and I will continue to represent
the jersey in the best way possible.

Wielergala De Pinte – May 25th

opportunities present themselves and in a split second you just have to grab
them.With the
regular race start, attack, attack, attack, nothing seemed to stick with a
whole host of teams represented.Topsports Vlaanderen
rider Demmy Druyts took off on her own but no one appeared interested in
initiating the chase. My teammate Kelly Vander Hagen and I had a number of
short discussions about how we would play the race but neither of us imagined
the gift we were to be handed. Riding relatively easy on the front of the bunch
as we came off of a small roundabout I glanced round to see what was happening
behind us only to be greeted by a 15m gap, that was all we needed. I shouted
“GO, GO, GO!” and we were away. What I loved about Kelly was the complete trust
she had in me, she didn’t look round, she just buried herself as we sprinted
away from the bunch and linked up with Demmy within a few kilometres. We made
the break, pulling it out to two minutes on the rest of the field come the
finish, much to the joy of our Isorex supporters on the roadside.

Grote Prijs De Wielkeszuigers Schellebelle – June 9th

early breakaway of 11 riders went up the road following a sprint rushes lap
after 6km. Although there were various attempts by riders to jump off the front
of the peloton there was nothing was strong enough to stick. With the gap to
the breakaway steadily growing myself and my two Isorex teammates decided to
attempt to pull them back with the help of another smaller team, this
cooperation broke down pretty rapidly but not satisfied to roll round in a
negative bunch we pushed on. The gap started to tumble but with 3 riders vs 11
in the break it was a tough task. With others taking a free ride off our pace
making we regrouped and changed strategy.

bided my time and launched a big attack with just over 30km to go. There was a
reaction from the bunch but no one made it to my back wheel. ‘Ok Dani, you made
your bed now you’ll have to lie in it’. Tapping out steady tempo I engulfed
myself in own little world. This world was interrupted just 5km down the road
when a group of 5 riders bridged across to me inevitably causing a reaction
from the bunch now bearing down on us. A quick attempt to rally the troops and
it was clear that the riders around me were either not strong enough of
motivated enough to go the distance. Solution? Attack again. Putting myself in
a serious box I powered away. ‘Race brain’ fails me on this occasion, it could
have been a further 5 or even 15km down the road but I was joined by Topsports Vlaanderen’s
Kelly Van Den Steen, I was thankful for a companion to share the work load. We
cooperated really well together, so much so that the time gap reduced on each
of the 6km laps. What seemed like mission (virtually) impossible when I
initially entered the hurt locker with 30km to ride and an 1 minute 35 second
deficit, the break dangled in front of us like a golden carrot. Those final seconds were by far the
hardest to close but with just 2.5km to ride we made the junction and caught
the break. Right on cue the attacks started, with no time recover and every
cell in my body screaming I completely emptied the tank, using every watt I had
left. Finishing in 8th place was probably one of my most pleasing races, not
for the result sheet but the way that I rode and defined myself.

remainder of the season will be my biggest challenge but I will keep aiming to
make the break. 

Making a big break.