Savannah Morgan and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. The 20-year-old began her second season in Belgium this year, riding for the Isorex NoAqua team. This is Savannah’s fifth journal entry…
With hospitality services reopening and some races starting back up, Belgium seems like the place to be right now
While the UK may be easing lockdown restrictions relatively quickly, my second home during the race season, Belgium, is well ahead in terms of heading back to some form of normality. With hospitality services reopening and some races starting back up, Belgium seems like the place to be right now.
I intend to head out to Belgium at around the end of July. It seems I’ll return to racing with a kermesse on 2nd August, with UCI races then following later in the ‘season’. Luckily, my team seems to have a good selection of these planned. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to get some good training rides done with friends out there.
Racing itself will be different. Usually we would have a 175 max starter limit. As I write, I’m unsure if that will be the case, hopefully, it still is. For the first few races, it seems there will only be 50 riders, with only Belgium licence-holders allowed (for the July period anyway).
Now everyone seems to want a bit of Belgium racing, especially with it being so easily accessible to European riders
The races that are still on the calendar are ones which last year had smaller fields, as some riders were doing other things, whether it was getting ready for the cyclocross season or for exams, etc. With more riders aiming for them, it could make the style and intensity of the races a little different.
Now everyone seems to want a bit of Belgium racing, especially with it being so easily accessible to European riders. Usually in the women’s fields throughout the year, we’d get a couple of British teams coming out for weekend stints, or longer, like the Team Breeze girls who tend to do a couple of months. Then you’d get riders from other nationalities such as Australia and New Zealand. But now it seems a lot of teams want to base themselves in Belgium for the rest of the season as it’s one of the only places where the racing seems to be starting. I’m unsure if this is a good thing or not.
The problem. With everyone coming over it can actually affect the racing in many ways. Kermesses tend to be quite a free-for-all and although a lot of club teams tend to be well-represented, there are vast differences in abilities in the field. The result is that teamwork isn’t always at the forefront and there seems to be an every-woman-for-themselves approach in a lot of these races.
So when full teams, whether they’re from the UK or elsewhere, turn up it can completely alter the racing. It can sometimes mean there is really negative racing. One rider from one of these teams goes up the road and then the race is neutralised as the team’s other riders seek to control things. By no means can I complain about this. That’s bike racing. We wouldn’t be in teams otherwise. But it can change the racing and make it a lot more boring. Plus I went to Belgium to avoid UK racing styles, so fingers crossed I’ll still get to experience more typical Belgian racing!
Although it may sound like I’m moaning – and I kinda am! – I’m really grateful we are going to get some kind of season. At one point I was wondering what to do with my summer and lamenting how I’d wasted a whole year. But hey, let’s just see how it goes!
And before I sign off, some reminders for people coming over for the racing in Belgium:
- Pre-registration – for foreign riders the quickest and easiest way to register is online, especially now as it encourages contact-free registration. It also helps due to the language barrier.
- Cost – 10€ race fee. You pay 15€ and get 5€ back when you hand your number back.
- Numbers – you get one race number. At registration, please check the table for which side you have to put your number on. It will be ‘links’ (left) or ‘rechts’ (right).
- Race info – the number of laps and distance will be on the website. It will also list three times. The first is when registration opens, the second is when it closes and the third is when the race starts.
- Parking – it’s usually a ‘park anywhere’ situation. Just ensure you are not on the course, blocking someone’s drive or where there are no parking signs.
- Anti-doping – they can be present and they usually test the first three and then random others. If you don’t finish the race, I’d suggest staying until the end as in the past people have left and had to come back to do a test.
Featured photos: Savannah Morgan
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