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An American in Belgium - Part IV - Classics Complete
By Staff
Date: 4/21/2007
An American in Belgium - Part IV - Classics Complete

by Alicia Hopkins

Kyle Wamsley from the Navigators Insurance Cycling Team completes the last of the Belgian Classics with Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen.

Wamsley at Bike Jam 2006

Now that you have completed Scheldeprijs, what were your impressions of the race?


Scheldeprijs was very different from the other races I've done here.  It was a very flat course.  Usually, I think the race would be very difficult with the crosswinds, but today was not windy, very warm, and dry.  The weather made the race very easy and kept the bunch together without many splits until the end when the distance and the speed started to wear down the riders.  I think of all the races that I have competed in here, this one so far provides me with the best chance of a win in the future. 
There were many abandonments during the race, what is the overall consensus in the peloton as far as morale and more importantly has the fatigue factor made many weary?

I saw a lot of good riders abandon the race at the feed, meaning many riders where using this race as training or preparation for another event.  You can always tell these riders as they have their legs covered and sitting 2/3rds of the way down the field compared to normally at the front third of the bunch.  I think some of the workers where a bit tired for most teams due to the number of races over the past week, for which reason we saw many of the smaller teams chasing the breakaways on the front.  It was also very quite on the starting line, not a whole lot of joking around, always a good sign that the peloton is tired and a good day to attack.
Now that you have several Classics under your belt, what would you say was the best and the worst for you? Some riders love riding in Belgium and others hate it, where would you place yourself in relation to what you have experienced thus far.


For me, the hardest, worst, or most difficult races where the E3 Prijs style races.  These are the races that do say 100 kilometers to the feed, then start 50 kilometers in the bergs, cobbled or not, and may finish on some flat to rolling finishing circuits.  I have not discovered how to make it over the climbs in the front, which is art in and if itself, but a definite key to victory.  It is a two part struggle, one to get to the bottom of the climb and another to get over it.
The better races for me are the 150 km or so loops that are flat to rolling, but finish with 30-60 km of hard finishing circuits.  I usually find good legs by the circuits and enjoy the criterium style circuits with the big crowds like Scheldeprijs and Drenthe.
My overall opinion of the Classics here in Europe is a very good one.  I was blessed with fantastic weather for my stay, very unusual actually.  I have raced many big races in the states, Philly week, Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, all the big criteriums, and nothing is the same as racing the Classics.  Only here do you fight for 5 plus hours a day for space to ride in.  Once you get the space you have fought for, you hope it is close enough to the front that when, and it is a matter of "when" and not "if" , the race splits you are far enough forward to make the front half of the bunch. Only here will you ride on a four lane road with 200 riders, curb to curb and some on the bike path, at 30mph and no way to move up.  Sometimes three rows back is 150th place.  And all the riders, including myself, will come back for more because there is only one winner each day, almost never a surprise winner, and they are immortalized forever with the names of the greats who have one before them. 
For me, Belgium is the rubix cube of cycling.  You can get very close to solving it, but there is always that one block that is on the wrong side, the one section of stones or climb that will cost you the race.  But you just can't put down a rubix cube, so I'll be back to try again


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An American in Belgium
An American in Belgium Part II - After De Panne
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