FINALLY! My word, It's taken since mid 2005, but I finally did it today!
(I know this is long, but today I think it can be..)
GP Lancy, held in the far west of Switzerland on the outskirts of Genevra is a 177km Handicap race over five laps, which started in the chilly early hours of the morning. Fortunately the sun came out pretty quickly and things brightened up as we set off 10 minutes behind the Amateur bunch (hence Handicap race).
We fielded ten riders this morning, four of which were in the Amateur bunch which as usual meant that we were not allowed to do any pacing work. I was slightly concerned as no team seemed to really be setting up a pace line but before long it became obvious that today's race would be an attacking one. Towards the end of the first lap I jumped after a BMC rider (from the American Pro-Conti BMC team) and we got a nice group of about 8 riders pacing for all it's worth. Unfortunately that did not last for too long but that did not matter too much.
Shortly after being caught by the bunch we caught the majority of the Amateurs (wow, they must have been crawling today!) and not long afterwards I was off the front again.
I can't really remember how it happened, I just remember all of a sudden that Jaro was going wild and encouraging our group to GO as we had a gap. We hammered it up the next climb and got a slight gap before I really got to look around and see that we had formed a group of just about 20 which increased slightly as we picked up the remnants of the amateur breakaway. With Fidi numbering five in the break we were pushing it to get going and evidently did a good job of it. With two laps to go we had a two minute advantage as the group decreased slightly and we dropped Steven (who won the Amateur event in Fully).
One lap from the end I attacked really hard going up a steep and narrow climb just after the finish line and the group whittled down to nine riders with Jaro, Alain (Fritz), Matteo and myself still in there. I tried to get Matteo and Jaro in on a bit of 'two man attack and dead wheel action' but the two misunderstood me and the attack flopped. Instead Jaro threw a counter attack and got away solo which was fine. Matteo and I played blockers and really made the other riders lives miserable as they could not get any rhythm going without Matteo or I butting our front wheels in and destroying what they had going.
Unfortunately Jaro went a bit to far out and with a section on a dead straight road into a head wind he was reeled in slowly but surely. As the catch was about to happen we turned right and went over a little bump which after 170km could hurt any ones legs. Two of the chasers put in a move but did not get far. As soon as they realized that and slowed I jumped with all I had left and veered wide to the opposite side of the road. Flying past Jaro who was really going slowly by then I put my head down and went for it.
Davide was going wild on the race radio and must have repeated 'Chase the motorbike' at least thirty times! I knew that my team mates would be blocking at the back, just like I had been doing up until my attack so all I had to do was go balls to the wall. Davide was on my tail, still going wild, so I had extra motivation to do so.
After a while he changed his tune and would tell me to keep going as the race was not finished yet. Push push push. I only ever looked back once as I took the final turn into the final kilometer and could not see anyone behind me. That didn't change anything though as I kept my head down and going all out. All of a sudden, with 300 meters to go Davide mentioned over the radio that I nearly had a two minute gap so I could sit up, zip up and enjoy the victory!
I could barely believe it. It's been SO long since I won in Europe that I almost felt that it would never happen again..
One HUGE shout out to the team! We were amazing today! This bodes well for the next few races!