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Amstel Gold Race

17th April 2017

Coming into Amstel Gold I must admit that I was a little bit apprehensive about the task at hand – getting into the break for a 260km Ardennes Classic. A couple of things about this: I’d never raced anything further than 220km, and I’d never actually been in a breakaway from the gun. Sure I’ve been in some breaks or gotten into later moves, and I’d tried a few times to get into the early break at Volta a Catalunya without success. Usually, my job would be to save myself for the climbs.

So, I was pretty pleased when I found myself in a group of 6, riding across to another group of 6, forming the breakaway of 12 for the day. It took an effort of about 400 watts for 6 minutes to get across, and then we got settled in for what would be a long day.

I can’t recall the amount of food I stuffed into my face. It was lots. My file at the end of the day said I burned about 6000 calories, nearly 3 times the daily intake. Averaging nearly 240 watts for 7 hours will do that! I was trying to eat something every ~30 minutes, and drink a bidon every hour – which is harder than it sounds. My favorite bit of food for the day was the nutella and banana croissant…

We had been riding reasonably well together for a total of 210 km and a little bit over 5 hours before the peloton caught us, with 50km still left to race. Admittedly it was a fair bit earlier than I would have liked. But after hearing post-race stories from those back in the peloton, apparently some teams including Movistar and BMC were setting a rather uncomfortable chase, and every climb was not comfortable in the wheels. If you have 35 climbs, you’d expect a few of them to be pretty easy and slow…

The hardest times for me during the day was when I had to roll through on the flats or downhill, but most times when we hit the hills, things felt reasonably easy. Pulling downhill at nearly 5watts/kilo, only to have a big guy like Lars Boom freewheel past is demoralizing. Lars also had nearly every spectator on the roadside cheering for him as we went past, but not all! I did get a couple “go Canty” or “go Australia” along the way, mostly coming somewhere from one of the many packed pubs or bars!

We got caught, and about 10 km’s later the race winning moves were starting to take place. My body was reasonably tired, but I’ve definitely felt more fatigued for shorter or easier days. In fact, I was a little bit surprised by how well the body had coped. My job was done, but my day wasn’t over as I was fairly motivated to keep riding to the finish. Sure, there was a little bit of pride in finishing the race rather than stepping off the bike in my first Ardennes Classic, but it was mostly because I didn’t feel like I was suffering too badly. The rationale for finishing the race when you’ve already been going for 5 and a half hours was simply too strong.

Maybe I can think of it as course recon for the future. If you have a look at the route on my strava file here, it looks like Mr. Squiggle art. Passing the same points twice or three times throughout the day all from different directions became confusing. The recon two days before definitely helped, but it’s fair to say we weren’t going to recon 260km!! Everyone else on our team had ridden at least one Amstel before, and knew all of the climb names, locations and corners.

We were also extremely fortunate with the weather, as it is currently raining on our bus transfer to a new hotel before La Fleche Wallonne. Fingers crossed that things stay clear for this Wednesday! I won’t be racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège now, as Amstel Gold wasn’t in my original calendar, things have been shuffled around to give me a little bit more rest before starting the Tour of Romandie. It’s a day for recovery today, and most likely tomorrow, before pinning a number on again.

As always, thanks for reading and the support!
BC

Full Results: http://www.procyclingstats.com/race/Amstel_Gold_Race_2017
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/945026670

20 comments

  1. Good job mate
    👏👏😏

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks Ron! A bit further and harder than riding 60km’s up Mt Hotham a handful of years ago 😀

  2. Well done Brendan! Good on you for not giving up once your job was done. Good luck for next race!!

  3. Wow! That’s a fair days work by you. Well done. Inspirational. The account is a fantastic view of race from the saddle.

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks Alex, Hope repair and recovery goes well for you back home. Rest up!

  4. Well done Brendan, it was great seeing you in the break. Another awesome experience for you. Cheers Pete

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks Pete! Yep, definitely a good experience to take with me. I’ve never ridden a Melbourne to Warnambool, but I’d say this race was probably harder 🙂

  5. Well done Brendan! Enjoying the spring racing with a local doing so well. Keep up the good work and race reports.

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks David, no worries! Glad you enjoy following a local abroad 😀 Next up is Fleche Wallonne tomorrow, which I think our team can have a really good chance

  6. Michelle Roberson

    Was excited to see you in the break when I turned on the telecast.
    Its great to see you fully embracing the experience and not just sitting in the peleton making up the numbers.
    😊

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks Michelle, yep, Lot’s to take away from this race and reasonably pleased so far with this block in Belgium/Netherlands

  7. Great write-up & Kudos for such an impressive ride

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks Brendan 🙂

  8. Just wondering “…apprehensive about the task at hand…”. Does that mean you had planned to do that from the beginning?
    In any case, an awesome day’s work!

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      We usually have a plan for the day – which might change throughout the day depending on what happens. There’s usually the protected rider (or two/three) for the day, a road captain etc, and in my case for Amstel, I was asked to try and be the rider from Cannondale-Drapac in the breakaway 🙂 Hope this answers your question

  9. Great read BC, was awesome to turn on and see you in the break and now read the story, brilliant effort.

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks for the support Cyril! This race sure is a long way from when you suggested that I ride with Peak Cycles back in 2013!

  10. Great to see mate! Huge day out for your first classic. All the best for La Fleche Wallonne.

  11. It looked like a serious job getting into that break but you did it with aplomb. Buen hecho amigo. We are all enjoying seeing you on TV, mixing it with the legends of the sport.

  12. Great work Brendan. Keep the blogs coming, it’s fascinating to watch your progress in the races then read the stories behind it.

    Good luck with the rest of the season.

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