Well, it's that time again.
I was Beijing bound last week and spent a total of 7 nights there. I had a total of 3 flights to get me there as I was leaving from Mallorca. I'm happy to say that I got to china without any hick ups and with as little stress as there could be.
Once there the first thing that hit me was how cold it was. Straight away I had flash backs to the team pursuit when we were farting about building bikes outside. According to the hotel the temperature was from -7 to -10 most days, enough to make your eyes hurt. It was pretty much the same routine as always on the lead up to a race. Not too much hard work but enough to remind the body of what's coming up. I did feel like a bag of spanners for the first few days but then everything started to come good.
Before I knew it it was time for business and time to get switched on. I've found in the past that I only waste energy thinking about the race too soon. I've got the knack of switching on the butterflies on the morning of race day and that seems to work for me. There were no surprises in Beijing, the race program was the same as the other rounds with 2 qualifying heats to decide who races the Omnium proper. The heats were 60 lap points races which have sprints every 10 laps, the first 12 from each heat qualifies.
I was off in heat 2 which makes no difference to me but there is slightly less recovery before the flying lap. For once the race went my way and as it turned out it set the tone for my other races. I got a lap on my own at the halfway point then just covered the dangerous looking moves for the rest of the race. It was definitely one of my easier qualifying rounds.
Next up was the flying lap and I had high hopes for it. There isn't really to much to say about it but a wobble on the lap cost me a tenth or two and I had one of my worst results, 11th. Not exactly how I had imagined it. With that out of the way I had about 1 hour before THE race in my eyes. The points race was next and it is one of the most painful your can do on a bike, 120 laps of pain. With Andy's demands more than advice I was to do nothing early on in the race. I've raced too much too soon and it's not something I want to repeat, very sore! As the race went on and things got harder I started to feature a bit more. I was in countless moves but eventually I got the right one and 5 of us got a lap. I've gained laps before in there races and honestly I've probably relaxed afterwards. This time though I was determined to get the pressure on. I got second in the 6th sprint and won the last sprint. When the dust settled and the pain had left my legs I had finished 3rd and was over the moon, my best points race to date. The final race of the evening was the dreaded elimination race, I absolutely hate this race and was prepared for the worst. By the time the race starts it's 10pm and I've done the guts of 200 laps at over 50kph, the last thing I want is this lottery! After a false start caused by a crash and some dodgy sensors the race finally got going. I can't remember too much but I knew from the first lap I was in trouble, my legs hurt and my lungs were on fire. With another bad elimination race gone I had placed 14th, a serious dent in the overall position. Overnight I was sitting in 10th place, far from what I had targeted.
With a great nights sleep and a really casual morning under my belt I was ready to go. The racing started at 2pm so I had loads of time in the morning to fill. After breakfast I did 30mins on the roller to wake my legs up then sorted my gear out for later on in the day. At 12pm I had a good lunch then headed to the track at 1pm. The plan today was to move up the rankings and race hard. It seems when the racing is hard I do well. First up was the pursuit and as usual I was looking forward but yet again I fell sort of what I had targeted. I won the pursuit here last year and really thought a top 3 was doable. The race itself was one of my more comfortable one's and when I finished I couldn't help but think I could have went faster. Slightly faster schedule or a slightly bigger gear or maybe both. Normally I die in the last few laps but this time I didn't, maybe it was my best paced pursuit??? In the end I place 5th which again wasn't what I'd hope for but still a solid result.
1 hour 30 minutes later and the Scratch race was next. By this point my legs are plenty sore and I'm close to propping my eyes open with matches. I'm pretty certain everyone is in the same boat so there's nothing else to do but get on with it. I've grown to like this race as I've got my head around how to ride it. Although I like it it can also go against me. If it finishes in a sprint I'm pretty much out of it but my game plan is to make sure that doesn't happen. With more moves, attacks and counter attacks than I can remember I timed my efforts pretty well and with 10 laps to go I was of the front and not slowing down. I got half a lap on the bunch and held it, first over line and delighted!! Not exactly though, an Italian had sneaked a lap somewhere and I was officially second. Still happy with my ride though.
Finally it was here, the final race of the Omnium. 1 kilometre against the clock, pure torture! I'm always ok at this race but I always hoping for some freak performance and a super ride. For me it was man against man, me against the Belgian. If I beat him by one place I would be 4th overall and if he beat me by one place I would be 5th overall. On the other hand though if I was 15th that would drop me out of the top 6. There is no secrets to this one though, 4 laps as hard as you can go. Unfortunately though the Belgian beat me by just under 2 tenths of a second and I place 7th. It was enough to take 5th overall and another solid ride in the bank.
The 5th place in Beijing was enough to move me up to 7th place in the European rankings. This is what I've been chasing for the last 2 years! Top 8 nations in Europe go to London 2012 and that's where I am now. There are 2 more races to go so hopefully everything goes my way. I'm still gonna give it 100% and keep doing what I've done, train hard.
Thanks to Andy for all the help before, during and after the races and thanks to Karen, Terry and Hugh for their help in China. Makes my life a lot easier!!