I met Kurt Asle Arvesen, but first… on the 28th March my Asfra Racing Team (and support club) headed to Montreuil sur Mer in France.

The race had the mixed characteristics of a race in France, a Belgium kermesse and almost like a criterium in the UK. 23 laps of a 3.8km circuit was the order for the day.

A fast, twisty decent, followed by a flattish section, then a longish climb back up to the town, topping off with half a km cobbled section before a short section of tarmac leading to the finish line. Although a relatively short, criterium type race, the nature of the course meant that this was going to break up and it did so early.

A team mate of mine kicked things off and once brought back I countered on the first time up the climb and with it set myself up for the King of the Mountains competition. A lap or two of attacks and soon a break was established.

Although throughout the race the break swelled on occasions to 6 or so riders, the vast majority of the time it was myself and two other riders ploughing away at the front. The problem I had was that whenever we were joined by others it tended to be teammates of these two riders and so I found myself outnumbered and so I had to cover everything and attack further to even it up. This included attacking to get clear of the very strong Ludovic Capelle (ex Belgium professional national champion) who I knew I had to try and get away from and who’s respect I earned in doing so.

The break worked well, however at times there was disorganisation. They had team mates chasing and I had a teammate also chasing so it was difficult to know what to really do. On the one hand I was being told to slow by the team, which I did, but as I did the others would attack and so I was forced to react. At the same time completely waiting for my teammate may have not been the absolute right move as along with him were other team mates of my breakaway companions including Capelle.

After being jumped again with a lap to go I tagged back on and although we all had digs on the final lap it would come down to the wire. A lot of looking at each other the final time up the climb and then onto the cobbles. The chase group was not far behind so we still had to be careful and hot on our tails they were.

Kurt Asle Arvesen
I was disappointed not to win, but pleased with my first podium of the season.

They wouldn’t quite catch us, but I was beaten into third in the final dash for the line. Disappointed not to win but satisfied with the performance, showing myself strong yet again at the head of the race and securing my first podium of the year and in doing so also wrapping up the King of the Mountains prize.

Two bouquets of flowers, two trophies, 105 euros prize money and four kisses from Miss Montreuil… not too sad for an afternoon’s work!

The result in Montreuil Sur Mer came off the back of a decent weeks training following the race in Merelbeke the previous Sunday.

With no races mid week for me, we decided to string a little block of training together. The combination of this, the form that I have been building from the races so far and establishing more of a routine again, has left me feeling good and raring to go again.

I’m feeling stronger week by week, and my confidence is growing with every race: knowing that If I get it right on the day, then I can be there for the win.

The good thing with racing on the continent and Belgium in particular… there’s no time to dwell… I’ll have another chance to go for glory in just a few days time. Can’t wait 🙂

Kurt Asle Arvesen
The spoils of the visit to France..

A nice added bonus the following day when I was finishing up my recovery spin when I ended up riding and chatting with Team Sky’s Kurt Asle Arvesen.

With Kurt staying in Oudenaarde ahead of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, he was off out for a recovery spin himself after his weekends efforts and so we headed off out along the Schelde.

A really nice guy who seemed as interested in what I was doing as I obviously was about him, and so an unexpected bonus to my mornings ride.

He even waited for me when I punctured on the way back. Hopefully one day I’ll also be kitted up for Team Sky and be teammates with Kurt – all the best for the Ronde van Vlaanderen!

Result

1. Fabian Behague – ESEG Douai
2. Mickael Delattre – EC Raismes Petite Foret Porte du Hainaut
3. Daniel Patten – Asfra Racing Team
4. Fabien Fournier – EC Raismes Petite Foret Porte du Hainaut
5. Anthony Louis – EC Raismes Petite Foret Porte du Hainut
6. Pierre Drancourt – ESEG Douai