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Myron Simpson cobbles back to form
Jul 3rd, 12. After breaking his collarbone, missing the UCI Track Worlds and with it any chance of making the NZ Olympic team, Myron Simpson is pleased to have found his form on Belgium's cobbles.
He did not get a win or a Top 10, but being in the front bunch at the end of 167km up and over Belgium's famous cobbled climbs was enough of a success for the Kiwi after a tough early season of disappointment.
"Finally my legs were good enough to be there at the finish with some of Belgium's top riders," said Simpson who broke his collarbone in a spectacular crash at an Australian track meet in April.
The UCI 1.2 IWT Oetingen included over 15km of cobbled sections and the course went over some of Belgium's famous Tour of Flanders cobbled climbs - Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosburg.
Although these climbs were tough, their placement in the course meant the finishing straights were more decisive - four laps of a 15km circuit with two cobbled sections - a 1.5km section and a 1.8km section, the latter being less than 3km from the finish, explained Simpson.
"It was a big field, of 193 riders. It was our first and last big one day race as a team before the boys build up for the Olympics which they will do in Bordeaux in 10 days time," he said.
For lovers of the Classic races, Simpsons write up gives a great insight into riding these races.
Simpson's day on the cobbles
"A group got away early on in the race and sat out front all day. I sat near the back of the bunch and watched the km's tick down. It was pretty dodgy in the bunch with heaps of road furniture, speed bumps, narrowing of the roads - fairly normal for Belgium."
"The bunch got over the Bosburg without any problems, then we hit the Muur and things got a bit interesting ... One of the riders managed to snap his steerer tube and his forks fell out of his bike, causing a crash in the narrowest part of the climb and stopping about half the bunch.
"The guy in front of me unclipped which forced me to stop and unclip too, but luckily I was back on my bike quickly and a Belgian spectator was nice enough to give me a push to help clip in as the road was cobbled and at about a 18% gradient!
"I rode past a lot of riders on the Muur and ended up in the front/main bunch of about 80-100 riders.
"At this stage we were just past halfway in the race and we were told there was a group of 10-20 riders up the road at just over a minute. We hit the finishing circuits and the bunch slowly got smaller. The hardest part of the finishing circuits was the 1.5km section of cobbles, followed directly by a steep 400-500m climb.
"With three laps to go, I was near the back of the bunch and had a bad patch and was dropped over the climb... I got over the climb off the back and sat in the convoy of cars for a few km.
"The legs recovered then I weaved my way through the cars and onto the back of the bunch and went straight to the front of the bunch. I sat here for the last two laps - it's amazing how positioning in a race can decide whether you finish a race or not - especially when racing over cobbles!
"The front group slowly got smaller, as did the breakaway. With 1 lap to go there were three riders with a gap of 45sec. I was sitting 4th wheel behind 3 Koga riders who decided to take up the chase, this was short lived as a few attacks went from other teams. I knew if I stuck near the front I would get to the finish and maybe have a chance of a Top 20 result.
"None of the teams wanted to take up the chase on the final lap, we could see the front three but they weren't getting any closer.
Searching for smooth road
"The last time over the cobbles and hill I rode the front, which is much easier as I could choose the smoothest part of the road - the far right hand side in the dirt.
"It's amazing when racing on cobbles how hard you search for the smoothest part of the road, I now have new levels of respect for riders who do Flanders and Roubaix and understand why they run so little PSI in their tyres.
"I fought hard to stay at the front of the bunch over the last section of cobbles but got swamped with just over 1km to go.
Once off the cobbles there was no more than 500m to the line.
"The front three riders stayed away by no more than 10sec. I sprinted from around 25th wheel and ended up rolling over the line in 16th."
"It's been a bit of a slow road back since breaking my collarbone in March in Bendigo but it feels like I'm back and not too far away from getting a result here in Europe."
"On Monday we head down to France for the Tour of Dordogne, a 4-day tour with a 10km time trial on the third day."
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