A number of New Zealand riders are currently in the running to be lining up in Gent on Saturday. Hamish Schreurs and Cameron Karwowski of Veranclassic-Doltcini, Sean Joyce, Nick Bain and Matt Zenovich of Terra Safety Shoes, Ryan Wills of VL Technics-Albutriek and Alex Hooper of Morgan Blue are amongst the list of names who are set to take to the start. We thought it would be a good idea to catch up with one or two . . . . or a few of them prior to the race start to get their take on the event.
- Leberg after 59.2km
- Hostellerie after 64km
- Muur after 81.1km
- Valkenberg after 99.3km
- Kruisberg after 126.9km
- Taaienberg after 136.5km
- Eikenberg after 141.8km
- Wolvenberg after 144.9km
- Leberg after 155.3km
- Molenberg after 160.8km
“I don’t ride out there too often ‘cos it’s quite far from where I live. I think it’s a course that suits me,” Nick added. For Hooper not only is this his first crack at Het Nieuwsblad but it is his first major race featuring cobblestones, “I’ve heard a lot about the race and had a good look at the course profile and it looks super hard, and with some top competition it will probably be the hardest race I have ever done!” Alex told us.
For Hamish Schreurs ambition for a high position at the end of the race will drive him on Saturday, “I want to get a top 10 but there is a lot of luck that goes with it,” he explained. This is something that VL Technics Abutriek Cycling Team rider Ryan Wills agrees with, “It’s everything from tyre choice, tyre pressure, knowing where you need to be at every part of the race, knowing when it’s safe to eat, it’s just a really stressful race,” he said. There are so many things that could go wrong with so many tricky sections to deal with over the 198km course and it’s not always necessarily a crash that could hamper your race, “Last weekend I punctured and that wrecked me for the rest of the race,” Hamish also mentioned.
For Nick Bain’s teammate Sean Joyce what to expect here is a little less certain, “At the moment I’m unsure of how it will go,” he explained to us. “Training has been up and down for the last 2 weeks cos I’m coming back from food poisoning (lost 5kg and was in bed for 7 days).” He will be hoping to have good condition on race day. “I’ve done most of the climbs and cobble sections before but not so tightly packed one after the other. Hopefully I just have good legs on the day and can get a half decent result,” Joyce says.
Veranclassic-Doltcini’s Cameron Karwowski is relishing the chance to get back into racing after enjoying something of a vacation from racing recently, “I’ve had 10 days without a race,” he said. “I’m feeling super fresh and ready to get into it.” This is one of the races in the year where Karwowski will have some freedom to keep himself fresh for the finale instead of expending all his energy earlier on in the race for other riders, “I’ll be there in the last 40km trying to mix things up and go with the moves, see where it goes from there. I’ll just be looking after myself until that point. This is one of the races I want to perform well at this month.”
And then we come to VL Technic’s Ryan Wills. Four days ago Ryan helped teammate Dmitri Claeys to victory in Dwars door Vlaams Ardennen. Having been busy altitude training lately, Ryan is anticipating good condition for the race, “I’m coming off an altitude block so normally I’m back to 100% in these next few days,” he said. “We have a really strong team, probably not some of the other names the other teams have but we are capable of matching them man-for-man. I rode the beginning of the race last year but crashed in the first hour when riders were flying everywhere in atrocious weather conditions.”
Ryan recently did a recon prior to the race to get a good feel for the course with his teammates, talk tactics and other things. He commented, “ We got on pretty good. Glad we pre-rode the course, anyone who hasn’t has lost the race before it starts. Some crazy small roads.” He also said that the weather could go either way at this stage. another crucial factor to determining a winner for the race.
We wish all the guys the very best of success this weekend and look forward to a great race on Saturday. Stay tuned for more on the 2014 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Beloften right here.
By: Ed Wright