Wednesday, January 26, 2022
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Dan Patten – ASFRA-Flanders and a Solid Start to the Season


We spoke to Dan Patten a couple of times last year, when he was a member of the Magnus Maximus team. This year, he’s off in search of cobbles, riding for a famous name – ASFRA-Flanders, the team started by the late and sadly missed, Frans Assez.

Dan opened his 2010 campaign with a 5th place in the Lierde kermis last week.

Best results of 2009, Dan?

“I had a stage win and second overall in the U6 stage race in Sweden and I got seventh and king of the mountains in the East Yorkshire Premier Calendar – that gave me the confidence to believe that I could win a Premier.”

The new incarnation of Magnus’s team – Sprocket Pro – offered you a renewal.

“Yes, but I’ve been thinking about Belgium for a while – I spoke to Magnus and Martin McCrossan about my decision and they’ve said that there’s a place for me in Magnus Maximus Team, if I want.”

Why Belgium?

“When I raced as an amateur in the UK the club I rode for was sponsored by Flanders UK and then at the end of last year me and Russell Hampton decided to spend a month over there riding the pro kermesses.

“I got to talking to the Flanders guys when I was there and we arranged it all over the winter – it’s actually the UK Flanders importer who put it together but Frans Assez’s son, Ronny (formerly not a bad rider, on his day) is heavily involved.

“I’ve raced here before, so it’s not like I don’t know what to expect.”

Dan will be back in the UK for a few of the bigger races.

I heard Raleigh offered you a spot.

“Yes and I definitely considered it, my coach is Adrian Timmis; he rode for Raleigh and was keen for me to get involved, but it was down to their programme.

“At that time it looked like it was going to be largely domestic and I wanted to race abroad.

“Flanders have 50 days of racing programmed, plus I can ride as many kermesses as I want.

“If it doesn’t work out, I can come home for 2011.”

And you’re in the placings, already.

“Yes, I was 5th at Lierde from a good field; Tony Bracke (ex-pro and Tour of the Cotswolds winner) won it and Mario Willems (second only to Kermesse King Guy Smet in this form of racing) was riding too.

“I got away early with them, it reformed and I attacked again, those two and a couple of others got across and Bracke managed to get away on a little climb there was on the circuit with about one kilometre to go.

“It was a solid start to the season.”

Dan shows off his Flanders machine.

Where are you staying?

“With Andy Griffiths in Oudenaarde, he’s a British rider who has lived here for a few years.

“Russell and I stayed with him when we were over, last year.

“The Flanders shop is in Oudenaarde – in fact, it’s just across the road! – and there’s plenty of racing locally – it’s ideal.”

How’s the programme?

“It’s an amateur team so we’re not guaranteed spots in the Top Sport races, but Ronny is very well connected – he knows everyone – and I’m pretty sure we’ll get wild card invites.

“We have a three day in the Ardennes soon and I’ll be riding a race in France in a week or two; but I have a kermesse in the week then two at the weekend.”

What’s the deal with the team?

“The UK importer has set me up with the bike and I get all my clothing – there’s no wage as such, but if you’re getting in the placings you can live on that.

“It’s not like the UK, where it costs a fortune to enter a race; three euros – In the UK, with entry fees, you’re lucky to break even.”

How has the weather been?

“It’s nice today, we’ve had a little snow but not too bad; the first race I rode was Gent Staden on the same day as Kuurne -Brussel-Kuurne that was pretty grotty!”

Will you be riding much in the UK?

“I mentioned to the management about The Rutland (the UK answer to Paris-Roubaix, with large sections of farm road).

“They were intrigued and there’ll be an ASFRA-Flanders team there.

“I’ll come back for selected Premiers – and the National road race of course.”

Dan (centre) has another top 10 placing in a kermis this weekend – 8th in Geluwe.

Belge/Blighty – differences?

“It’s just so much more aggressive.

“In the UK a race will ‘settle down’ here, it never does, it’s full-on from the gun and there’s no neutralised start in kermesses.

“If you can get past the first hour, that’s the most savage part – only the strong survive, really.

“There are no easy races, you never ‘just get round in the bunch’ and at the finish, if there are 30 places they’ll sprint for 30th like it was the win.

“They’re hungry: they want those euros, and that contract.”