The multiple Monument winner is in the US at the moment, for his first race since April.
We just finished stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California in San Diego. As I'm writing this blog we have a transfer of almost three hours to the next hotel. There is a lot of traffic and it seems to take forever, even on a Sunday. I'm happy to be racing again, after Roubaix and the break I had.
Looking back on Roubaix... This race brought so many emotions for so many people. I was disappointed but I was happy too with the race I did and how I raced the final. The first five minutes after we crossed the finish line it really hurt but then I realized that six months before it could have been worse. The doctors gave me six months before I could even start training again so that's when I could put all into perspective and actually feel really happy about this race and the result.
It was also a very hectic final! It's not that five riders made it on the track and started sprinting at the same moment, no. It was pure chaos, attacks after attacks, and I tried the whole time to just wait because I knew everyone was dead, everyone had attacked before and countered or closed a gap. Looking back on that sprint, when we came into the last corner of the track, it was just Hayman and me sprinting, Hayman passed me which was according to plan in my head but then Vanmarcke came next to me and closed the door for about 70-80 meters and that was the distance I needed to win. That's when I lost the race.
Did I make a mistake? Yes, I didn't win the race. But I could only see what I saw. It's all easy afterwards when you watch it on television... I just didn't see Vanmarcke. I have to say I got so many reactions from people, everyone experienced it in their own way, crying, jumping on the couch out of frustration; I mean, this might sound cruel, but I think the outcome led to a bigger boom of feelings than if I'd have won the race. Of course I would have really loved to win but looking back on it now, it has done me more good. I got a lot of positive feedback, I think it's also about how I dealt with losing.
There's only one right way to deal with it. The day after Roubaix I went for a few days on vacation to Dubai, that was a good decision to leave immediately after it because I'm sure that in that week it would have been difficult even to get out of the house, When we arrived back home the day after, I went riding with the mountain bike for a few hours and that week I just enjoyed being home with my kids, living the normal life, training a little bit for two to three hours a day before starting my intense trainings the weeks after.
I feel good in California, I like coming here and I like the race. I think I rode it already for eight times now. We pass by so many beautiful places that a few years ago saw I visited during a road trip together with Lore. We didn't book any hotels, just a car. And every day we rode to some place and when it was nice we stayed there and looked on the internet for hotels in the neighbourhood; if there weren't any, we just drove a bit further.
I remembered some places which I wanted to visit again like Morro Bay, where we were greeted by some fantastic people, a brother and sister of 75, and respectively 77 years, who invited us to stay with them, as they just rented out rooms. So we took a small room, but with an amazing view, overlooking the rock of Morro Bay and he sea lions lying just beneath our balcony. We also took a helicopter over to the Grand Canyon and that was spectacular. It's the best way to see the Grand Canyon! You fly from Las Vegas and over the Hoover Dam which provides the water for Las Vegas and then you fly to the Canyon. Amazing! We did this trip for two weeks and it was the best way to discover California.
When I get back from California the first thing I'm going to do is tighten the fence around the pond in my garden to keep the kids away from the water. And maybe I will get me a few Alpacas! For my birthday Lore got me a two-day training seminar to become an Alpaca farmer. You learn how those animals think, how and when to feed and nourish them, all these kind of things, and after the two days I got an Alpaca farmer diploma. I think those animals are really cool. And I have the space in my garden.
After US, I'll return to Europe and do a few races leading up to the Belgian Championships. For now, I will enjoy the Californian sun and atmosphere!
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele