Leaving Belgium with three wins, four seconds, and three third places, and a team that is now stronger than ever, our month in the heart of cycling was a big one for the boys.
In our final chapter of the Belgium Bike Diaries, DS Pat Lane reflects on the challenges and triumps of the last month. Plus, Jarrad Drizners and Tom McFarlane walk us through the final races.
With the tour component of the National Road Series kicking off tomorrow with the Tour of the Tropics, the excitement is only building for our team. (Read our tour preview here)
“Belgium provides a racing experience like nowhere else in the world, it’s the only country you can come to and have multiple high-level races on any day. This allows us to create an intense month-long block for the riders to maximise their time in Europe.
The style of racing in Belgium is very different to Australia, it’s characterised by a lot more attacking and aggressive racing. The bunch can be as many as 150 riders around very technical courses. This type of racing is a lot closer to World Tour and watching their improvement over the last month I can see that it has been well worth bringing the guys to Europe to prepare them if they ever get the opportunity to race at the highest level.
The whole team rode fantastically. We had three wins, four seconds, and three third places. It’s been great to see some of the guys really step up with the opportunity here and I believe they have a lot ahead of them. Everyone has had a great time and the bond between riders is even stronger after a month together.”
The final races, as told by Jarrad Drizners and Tom McFarlane:
Zottegem Stripes - 111km
It was a hard day out with hot conditions and a hilly course. The pace was on the whole race and the bunch became smaller and smaller. A lot of promising looking breakaways were unsuccessful. Dave and Carter did an awesome job in the last lap to bring back two riders for me to have a go in the sprint. I went in early and got rolled to end up in 3rd.
Wachtebeke - 117km
This was a fast race on a very open course. An aggressive race in still conditions on open roads made it difficult for attacks to stick. Plapp was in a late break that got caught through the last corner at 200m to go, Drizners was 3rd after a big lead out from the team
During the race the bunch split up multiple times with a number of different breakaways looking like they would survive to the finish. In the last it looked like it would come to a sprint and the team took control of the front and lead out Drizners, he was first around the last corner at 200m to go and held on to win the sprint