Posted by Editor on 01/12/11
Last November, Canadian 'cross racer Shaun Adamson decided to try his hand at cyclo-cross in the home of the sport: Belgium. His first race was the extremely difficult Koksijde World Cup (November 27th), and he has been racing ever since. Shaun sent us his first report on his experiences to date on December 10th (see Daily News: Shaun Adamson - A Canadian Cyclo-crosser in Belgium). Here is his second report:
Zolder World Cup (Belgium) December 26th
Well, it's only been two weeks since the Zolder World Cup, but it feels like it's been a lifetime. Some of us had gone to pre-ride the course the week before Christmas and it was absolutely covered in snow and ice. Race day brought similar conditions, although they had removed the ice from the roads and the snow was now covered in ruts. That, in addition to the sketchy descents, was going to make for a very tough day!
I was feeling good and was pretty comfortable on the course. I knew that the start was going to be chaos when we hit the snow, and it was - the ruts were throwing the leaders all over the place and everyone was piling into each other. I felt like I was able to make up spots, running by people. In the trees, it was basically single file until we hit the next snowy, rutted section, where there was yet more crashes. Being in a group wasn't going to be a big deal today, it was just going to [be important to] be smooth and consistent. I focused on that as much as I could, as well as putting the power down on the sections that I could. There were parts of the course where I was having a blast and parts of the course where I was getting really frustrated; I wouldn't be able to clip in from running and then I couldn't get up the next climb or down the next descent.
I did ride with Brian Matter for a few laps, until Lars [Boom] and Niels [Albert] came by me. That did make for some good TV time and I did ride a section that gave Lars some trouble, although they were a lap ahead of me. It wasn't a great result, but it was a good day and I think I made improvements in my riding.
Superprestige Diegem (Belgium) December 27th
I was looking forward to racing in Diegem. It was the very first race I ever did in Europe, and I remembered it being a pretty good course for me. This time I got to race with the big boys, in the dark. It was a good course, with lots of pedaling (something I had missed the day before in Zolder), but it certainly wasn't going to be easy.
There was a little stress in the tent warming up as I realized that my chain was broken; I quickly jumped onto my other bike and The Famous Gregg Germer took a link out ... good as new. I had a great start, navigating through the traffic, good enough to even have a few people comment about it to me. Unfortunately, that's about as far as it went, as I found myself stuck behind people going through the mud by the first pit and then following a wheel that I thought would help me bridge up to the group just ahead, but instead got in my way and slowed me down in the mud and snow. I never would get back up to that group.
But I was feeling good on the course and felt like I could really put the power down. I crashed pretty spectacularly on one of the icy, rutted corners. I didn't feel bad after, though as there was more than one crash there that night, taking down some of the best riders in the world. I definitely didn't make the lead lap again tonight, but I knew that I went as hard as I could. I am also feeling more and more comfortable in these crazy ruts!
GVA Trofee - Azencross (Belgium) December 29th
It's kind of funny how I remember these courses. I remember loving Diegem, but didn't like it so much yesterday and I remember disliking Azencross, but loved it this time!
It was a lot of fun, with some nice mud, some running, some fast sections, good corners, ruts, and of course the whoops! I was feeling pretty decent today and really wanted to have a good ride. I started well again on the really long start straight, avoiding a few major crashes, and managed to get around a few guys in the first mud section. My biggest mistake of the day was trying to ride too much of the mud when I should have just picked up my bike and ran.
I really felt like I was riding well, but after one lap, I just could not accelerate to stay with the group I was with. I lost them for good on the really long straight, so I began simply focusing on accelerating hard and driving well. I did that, but the best riders in the world really are amazing and they caught me after only four laps. I definitely got something out of it and look forward to the day when I get to ride a full 60 minutes with these guys!
Grand Prix Hotel Threeland Petange (Lux) January 1st
I decided to make the trek to Petange, Luxembourg this year, as that is what everyone else was doing and the other option - the GP Sven Nys in Baal - is an incredibly hard course. My legs were definitely not 100% and all the climbing on the course was going to be tough. Right from the gun I was suffering a lot, but I was feeling good in the mud and on the long descents, and would catch guys there. I was hurting really bad after just one lap and wanted to pull the plug and go right to sleep, but I knew that I couldn't do that, I told myself when I first got here that I wasn't going to DNF any races. So I kept pushing and was riding with some of the guys I had been riding with in some of the B races and focused on my driving in the muddy descents.
Fidea Cyclo-cross Tervuren (Bel) January 2nd
When we got home from Luxembourg, some of us were planning on doing the B race in Waregem on Sunday, but we saw Pete Webber's pre-ride photos and video, and it looked like a horrid course with far too much running in muddy fields! Luckily, we're in Belgium and there was another great race, although again with the best riders in the world, but it would be another experience on a great course. And the course was really good. Really hard, but really good.
It was going to give me lots of practice riding the mud, in ruts, up and down, and just fun. I was tired! I came through the first corner and along the super muddy false flat stretch near the back, but ran by a few people in the congestion. In the TV coverage they even said "The Canadian, Shaun Adamson" as I ran by another guy. I was working hard, trying my best to find good lines and nail all the technical sections. The other thing I really needed to do better today was focus on fighting for every second rather than just waiting to get lapped. I'll get there. And until then, I'm really looking forward to a week off!
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