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Bpost Bank Trofee #4, Essen (GP Rouwmoer)

By  CJ Boom     11:03     
Image: Balint Humvas for Cyclephotos.co.uk 
Delia and I wanted to do another cross race in Belgium that was at least UCI - C2 or C1 in classification (higher than British National Trophy races).

We have to pick them not on the course but on the distance from Calais and so it came to be that we registered and entered for a race in Essen, a small town on the boarder of Belgium and the Netherlands, now home of superstar cross rider Zydnek Stybar.

Looking at previous videos of the race, it has historically always been muddy. The course is in a field with a disused railway station and crumbling former ticket hall in the centre of all the racing.
Flat as a pancake, they course designer had added with own man-made obstacles to force the flow of the race. Two earthy mounds that you'd need to sprint up, a bomb hole (that I struggled to ride out of), a metal stair run up and a metal bridge to ride over.
The final obstacle which I doubt was man-made but must have delighted the crowd was the mud> Thicker than thick, stickier than glue. As soon as my wheels touch the first bog that just past the start/finish line it sank in, stopping my bike and almost bucking me forward. Running was the only option but no easier. The sludge swallowed my foot, muck reaching up to my shins.

The race went pretty well, we got quite cold waiting in the car before the race, waiting in the grid I was shivering.
I followed Delia through the first muddy running section pushing slower riders out of the way. We remounted in 20th position. After the second lap I faded slightly, not managing to rail my bike through the very twisty turns as efficiently as others.
It was a relentless course, I looked for sections to rest on but there were none, if you didn't ride hard all the time your bike would come to a stop.
After slogging through twisty turns at the back of the course, there was then a run up. Then sprint accelerations to get over two consecutive mounds before hitting another deep bog that you had to really focus on to run through. Concentration fell to gathering all ones strength pulling my feet clear  from the deep troughs I was creating with each step. Then we remounted on thick mud and had to do a seated power acceleration to get through it otherwise you'd ground to a halt and have to get off again.
On the last two laps I rode as hard as I could and ran as fast as my heart would allow, I won back two places and ensured I was no way near being lapped by the eventual winner, Sanne Cant.
Image: Gabby Day rides past the decaying ticket hall.
Balint Humvas for Cyclephotos.co.uk
Image: Nikki Harris runs through the second bog.
Balint Humvas for Cyclephotos.co.uk
Image: After the race.
 Balint Humvas for Cyclephotos.co.uk
Image: World Champ Sven Nys strains to ride clear of the bomb hole. Cyclephotos.co.uk
Highlights of the junior and women's race below follow by full coverage of  the men race. 
For women's highlights fast forward to 2mins 40 seconds - provides a pretty good flavour of the course.

Final Result:
1. Sanne Cant, Bel
2. Helen Wyman, Gbr
3. Nikk Harris, Gbr
19th. Delia Beddis (same lap)
26th. Claire Beaumont (same lap)

40 finishers

About CJ Boom


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