AFI: Sint Niklaas

[Editor’s Note: Somewhere in my inbox this entry was lost, which meant Hoogstraten was posted out of order. So we’re backing up the bus and making sure Sint Niklaas gets its due.]

It’s our first outing after Worlds and a chance to see the Rainbows in their new homes for the next year.

TG’s [The Guys] have been joined by the extensions and that means they have VIP tickets. Not for me though, but this is OK in my book. I very much prefer getting out on the course and being up close to the action. However, my cheaparse OPQS jacket zip has broken and its bloody cold! I guess they only make them to last for as long as the sponsorship, so I should be grateful I got an extra year out of it!

Having paid my entrance and caught up with TGs we have coffee watching Jens Dekker demolish the field. At only 17 he could keep the Rainbows for a while, although 2nd placed Florian Vermeersch is looking good and 3rd placed Reno Bauters, who had another great result on the similarly sandy course at Scheldecross, will also try to make it difficult. After losing the World Cup on countback, Jappe Jaspers seems to be suffering from a bout of CBA*, but I’m sure he will bounce back next season and renew the battle.

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© 2016 Cat Armour

This, of course, is final BPost Bank Trofee day. There are still a few things to be decided for the prizes, not least the Men’s Race, and there are quite a few K-Pauw Sups here to will him on to keep that 2nd place behind Wout van Aert. Of course, now it’s all on for Sven’s last season and the Sven Noise is going to get louder to the end of the season.

After watching the start of the U23’s and seeing the Rainbows resplendent on the shoulders of Eli Iserbyt, I walk with TG’s to drop them off at the VIP (haha!) and head down to the beach. I think I am in love with this course. It’s relatively short, about 2.5km and apart from the hilly section and the off camber its going to be really fast.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

If you saw this race on TV you may have noticed the camera in the middle of the lake. Yes, the poor bugger got dropped off by boat and has to wait to be retrieved at the end of the day! Gets some great shots though. You will also not have failed to notice that its a tad windy here, especially along the shorefront. If you have a half decent camera there are some great opportunities to get riders going through the surf.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

Shame my camera isn’t one of those, but I try. Whilst exploring and after trying to get my arty shot of the riders coming onto the beach, who did I spot queueing to get tokens and then for a burger but yesterday’s birthday boy, Niels!

GPON. © 2016 Cat Armour
GPON. © 2016 Cat Armour

Just this once we can allow him a burger, yes? Plus there was this guy 🙂

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

The little hilly bit is quite an oasis of green and sheltered from the wind. It’s a little on the steep side and most will need to run, unless you’re name is Eli Iserbyt (show off!). It wasn’t Eli’s day though, but Daan Soete who took the honours and 2nd to Berne Vankeirsbilck (yep, new name to me too and he’s not even on the startlist!) with Nicolas Cleppe completing the podium.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

Just another quick look at the U23 rainbows.

During the U23 race I have been gradually making my way along the course, through the hillly bit to the planks and off-camber and the the rather less than spectacular 180 at the end and I’m at the other side of the lake when TGs call to say they’ve got me a VIP ticket after all. Before I go all the way back there though there’s the riders busses to see and some bike pR0n.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

The Crelan-Vastgoed Service people have already got Wout in rainbows on the bus (well, I guess they could’ve used the old one from when he was U23 champ) and, after GCN had done a lovely tour of Kevin Pauwels Ridley (https://youtu.be/pFTjgfQ_kSk) he has changed the set up (actually before Worlds, but I didn’t get a look at it then) including the new style saddle.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

Now heading back to find the VIP tent it’s still the half time break and, as this is BPost Bank Trofee day, this means the G-sport riders are on track. These guys really have fun with their race and I hope that the new sponsors will carry on the support. I’m not sure who won though. Anyone?

In the VIP tent it is nicely warm and the food is excellent and plentiful. Some of TGs have been practising their English, I think, so I am actualy conversing and not sitting lemon-like trying to figure out what they’re talking about and failing hopelessly (as is normal).

Warmed, fed and watered it’s itme for the Women’s Race. Being a lazy bugger I watch the first lap from inside the VIP as they pass along the beach and then ride alongside the tent itself. I then brave the elements to try to capture some of the action from outside. I’m actually loving this long view to the surf riding. When using the superzoom I never quite know what I’m going to get as keeping still, especially in the wind, is so difficult (photography problems). The Rainbows are flying as Thalita de Jong shows she is a worthy wearer of the jersey and proving it wasn’t just a flukey one day win.

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© 2016 Cat Armour

Helen Wyman, Nikki Harris and Sanne Cant are having their own battle with each other, the wind and the surf. After a strong start it seems the speed of this course is not suited to Helen Wyman, probably not enough mud, and we see her slip back a bit to finish 5th behind Jolien Verschueren, but the new GB champ, Nikki Harris managed to stay strong to get the 2nd place ahead of Sanne Cant.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

Thalita won’t be taking home BPost Bank honours, this long season and series belongs to Sanne Cant who has rarely been off the podium and who already has the Belgian driekleur, European Champs blue and stars and World Cup white cossie in her kit bag. One day those rainbows will be hers, I’m sure.

Retreating back inside the VIP tent just in time for dessert! Between the races TGs were trying to teach me a phrase something about a ‘dikke nek’ and referring to bollocks, but I find I can’t remember these things without seeing them written down. (if you know the phrase may I direct you to the comments section!) I’m not sure it’s really a phrase worth knowing though.

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

So, to the Men’s Race and I could see a group of K-Pauw Sups down by the wiggly bit on the beach so I left TGs inside and headed out to play on the sand. I will guess that you saw the race and know that poor Michael Vathourenhout had another brush with the CX pixies who messed with his bike on the off-camber leaving him with bent up wheel and a bit of a run. Corne van Kessel also came a cropper in the same spot, coming off second best to a wooden post and the CX pixies diverted Vincent Baestaens into the barriers! Kevin was having a bit of a nightmare. Starting the race 2nd place in the series behind Wout he was losing time to Sven all the while and getting dangerously close to losing the place. The time gap to Sven was being monitored and the team sent help back for him in the form of Gianni Vermeersch, Michael and Dieter Vanthourenhout, but it was getting tight. Meanwhile at the front Laurens Sweeck had taken over leaving Tom Meeusen ‘achtervolgering’ (!) with Sven and Wout. Even WvA can’t win EVERY race! Lars van der Haar wasn’t having his best day and what happend to Mathieu van der Poel, who knows? Back to us on the beach and that time difference was a worry despite our encouragements, but on that penultimate lap the time from Sven was communicated to Kevin with some urgency in the time honoured fashion; Shouting loudly, and BINGO! the ‘suitcase of courage’ was opened and the fastest lap of the day was produced. BPost Bank 2nd place in the bag! Hi 5’s, figuratively speaking anyway, to the K-Pauw sups who headed for the podium and I dutifully headed back to the VIP where TGs were mostly pretty much the worse for drink (except the driver, thank goodness).

© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour
© 2016 Cat Armour

Ending another brilliant day out at CX it was a little worrying that TGs couldn’t remember where the car was!

I do love this course and hope I will be back 🙂

 

KOMAAN KEVIN!

————

*Can’t be arsed

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2 thoughts on “AFI: Sint Niklaas

  1. Every one of these reports has been so full of brilliant details. From the shoddy zipper to losing track of the car, it just sounds like a perfect day spent. “CX pixies” brilliant.

    ?: what is G-Sport?

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