Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeJournalsTerra Pro Josh CunninghamThink Long and Hard Before Driving to Antwerp!

Think Long and Hard Before Driving to Antwerp!


Now, if anyone was thinking of doing so, think long and hard before driving to Antwerp and back in a day, because the job in hand is just that — long and hard!

Saturday gone was the date of my team presentation, or Ploegvoorstelling, so with the company of my girlfriend we took on the 500 mile round trip to meet and greet with team mates, sponsors, press, and the obligatory random Belgian cycling fanatics at the team café, St Barts, in Merksem, Antwerp.

4am was not pleasant, the P+O ferry breakfast even less so, but we made it across the channel, for first on the agenda which was to go and visit the new digs in Zottegem.

Conor had arrived the day before, so was on hand to give the grand tour, and help us in with the five gargantuan boxes of food I had lugged over.

The house could not look more Belgian if it tried, with wooden panelled everything and dated furniture, but clean, warm and dry; it looks like a perfect base for five cyclists, and I can’t wait to get settled in.

Our flat – I can’t wait.
It’s a little ‘old school’, but it’s comfortable and a great base.

We didn’t even have time for a coffee though, as it was steadily on up the E17 through Gent and onto Antwerp, where we eventually arrived at the hall with an hour to spare.

I made a fair share of brave attempts of conversation in broken Dutch with attendees, but more often than not reverted back to broken English – easier for all those concerned!

The time soon came though, for the troops to file backstage to open party bags and don the new kit for the first time; black for training, white for racing, before being called up on stage.

Black for training.
White for racing.

I proceeded to fumble my way through an on stage grilling about the forthcoming season (mercifully in English), where the interviewer didn’t think twice about remarking “how uncomfortable I look being interviewed in front of a lot of people”. As if I needed reminding!

The whole team takes the stage.

I got there in the end though, and after a few pictures it was all over. These pics are via my girlfriend’s phone, so sorry about quality.

It was then a case of racing back to Calais, picking up a pizza, and listening in on a conversation being had behind us by a small gathering of blokes who had been at the Superprestige CX, trying to explain cross racing to a couple who had spent the day buying alcohol and eating gammon and chips at Cite’ Europe…

19 hours later and we eventually arrived home, after what had been a very long, but excellent day, beginning life with the Royal Antwerp Bicycle Club, and re-acquainting myself with the concrete roads, overcast skies and beer-before-noon cycling nuts of Belgium.

The season is nigh.

Related Articles

David Hewett – “I’m totally committed to chasing the dream”

They’re not all going to make it; some do – Dan McLay, Adam Blythe, Jack Bauer... But they keep heading for the Heartland. And we’ve got another name for you to conjure with; David Hewett, is on the kermis trail in search of that elusive crisp World Tour contract - here’s his tale...

KBC Driedaagse van De Panne – Koksijde 2007 – Day 1

Viktor has barred us from attending any races which are patronised by Graham Baxter Tours, this means that the Tour of Flanders is out. The next-best thing therefore, is Driedaagse van De Panne. It covers many of the roads that Flanders does, the 'Flanders fever' is in full flow but the security is non-existent so you can skek bikes and annoy mechanics to your heart's content.

Scrapbook: Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2017

Ghent, or rather ‘Gent’ we love it; the bars, the people and the fact you can walk into a filling station and there are six quality cycling magazines on the shelf to chose from, and you have to love a city where they have taps to discharge the rainwater. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the first real races of the year – Down Under, the Desert races, Langkawi? Come on!

Bernie Nolan and the Legend of the Kazemaatenstraat

The Kazemaatenstraat is part of 70's cycling legend, a condemned cul-de-sac in Ghent where penniless 'Anglo' cyclists could have a cheap roof over their heads as they pursued their (mostly lost) cause to make it big and become a ‘Kermis King.’ Manchester's Bernie Nolan was one of those riders and has kindly agreed to share a few reminiscences with us...

Mark McNally – Everything geared to the Tour of Britain

The summer is coming to an end so it must be time for Madison-Genesis rider Mark McNally to come to form... McNally is a product of the British ‘cycling academy’ system and was a member of the winning team in the European junior team pursuit championship in 2007 and European U23 team pursuit championship in 2008.

Dan Patten Blog: Raring to Go!

The season is here and so I thought it was about time that I posted my first Dan Patten Blog entry of 2012, to fill you in on whats been happening over the winter months and what I am up to in this coming season.

At Random

And Now (No And Then) – Dude Where’s My Car?

And Now ... I love that scene from Dude Where’s My Car? So here we sit: Rest Day 2 already! And yet it feels like forever since the Tour started. Weird stuff happens to sports fans in July. The last few days of racing have been typically explosive, with Cav making it 19 TdF career stage wins (good grief the man can find the finish line) yesterday...

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 5; Ypres – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 156 km. Boom Wins and Nibali Extends

When you’re in the Tour village, the sun is shining and the riders’ kit is so clean it almost glows, their tans are the colour of mahogany and the smiles for the pretty girls are a mile wide, who wouldn’t want to be a professional cyclist? But when you see men like Sagan and Cancellara on their knees today, sodden, crash scarred and with the prospect of having to do it all again, tomorrow then you remember that it can also be a long ways from ‘ice cream and fairies’ on le Tour.

Ian Boswell – “I don’t want any ‘what ifs?’”

It was the end of 2012 when we last spoke to 23 year-old American Ian Boswell on the eve of his first get together with Team Sky. We caught up with him again in January of this year to see how his professional debut year with double Tour winning squad SKY had gone.

Minor Details: Eneco 2010 Stage 4

Minor Details. Today was the first stage that the boys didn't have any specific job to do in the race. We had held the jersey for the first three days of the race, and will continue to fight out the general classification with Svein, but the stage today was quite flat, so it would not in any way effect the gc standings, meaning our boys finally had a low responsibility day.

John F Murray – Sponsor of GS Modena in the 1990’s

It's always sad when you lose a friend - when it happens on Christmas Day it makes it all the more painful. So it's with particular sadness we report the loss of John F. Murray, sponsor for several years of Scottish cycling team, GS Modena / M & M Windows. John and I set up M & M in 1988; hitherto GS Modena had been sponsored by CR Smith.

Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 – Preview

Promoted by Sandy Wallace Cycles, the Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 takes place on Sunday on the Purrin Den ascent in Fife, and around 35 hardy souls are preparing to put themselves through the seven minutes (and more) of pain it'll take to see the relay station at the finish...