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An English Talent In Belgium: Dan Patten
Dan Patten was with Magnus Backstedt’s Magnus Maximus coffee team in 2009; grabbing a stage in a Swedish stage race and a top ten in the East Yorkshire Premier race in England – but the programme perhaps wasn’t as solid as Dan had expected and for 2010 he decided to take his chances in Belgium.

He signed on the dotted line with long established ASFRA-Flanders and set about establishing himself in the Heartland.

It was back in September when we last spoke to Dan; he was riding a kermis in Sleidinge but the 2010 season is long over and season 2011 will be upon us before we realise it.

We thought we’d have a word with the man from Kent about the Flatlands season just gone and the one to come.

PEZ: Highlights of 2010 please, Dan?
Dan Patten: Getting my first win, at Ghoy – definitely. I had good form in May/June and was getting seconds – I had one to ex-pro Jurgen Guns at Grandglise for example, he’s a very strong ex-pro – and thirds.

I figured I had more wins to come but then I had bad luck – crashes and getting hit by cars a couple of times, for example!

PEZ: Are you back with Flanders for 2011?
DP: Yes, the plan is to go back to Belgium and try and step up to a UCI team by mid-season.

David Harmon – of Eurosport fame – is my manager now and he’s hoping that we can get me a stagiaire placing before the end of the year.

PEZ: What’s it like on the Flanders team?
DP: The programme is the big thing, you get your clothing but have to pay for your bike – most Belgian teams don’t actually give you much.

But the programme is solid – we ride some good races; at this stage in my career it’s about getting out and racing, getting results, not what bike you can get.

PEZ: How’s the Flemish coming along?
DP: I’m getting there, I have the Dutch phrase books and study them – I want to at least be able to understand what’s being said during a race.

PEZ: How many races did you ride in 2010?
DS: I haven’t counted them, but a lot! We had the Flanders programme plus kermises – I was racing up to three times each week.

That’s one of the big differences between Belgium and the UK; there are so many more races.

The hardest race as far as conditions go was Gent Staden; that was on the same day as Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with the storm, the cold and the rain – it was echeloned, with people getting blown about all over the place.

There were guys pulling out right, left, and centre.

PEZ: How was the equipment toll?
DP: Not as much as you’d think; the bike lasted all year – ‘til the second car hit me that is!

PEZ: Have you started training, yet?
DP: I’m back into it on the turbo and rollers – it’s been unstructured but the weather has made it very difficult to get out.

I was a little bit ill but that coincided with the worst of the snow, anyway.

PEZ: Do miss Belgium?
DP: Yeah, yeah! I’ve been back out a couple of times since the end of the season; I was at the Friday night of the Gent Six – crazy!

PEZ: What will you do differently in 2011?
DP: I’ll be more structured in my approach to my race programme – I learned a lot this year and understand things better.

Perhaps the main thing is that if you hit form you shouldn’t try to carry it on too long – take a little break whilst you’re still going well, don’t ride yourself into the ground.

And whilst I love racing I think that you have to have a week off every five or six weeks or so.

PEZ: Where will you be based for next season?
DP: Oudenaarde again, or nearby, it’s ideal, you have all the options – you can go into the hills or ride on the flat.

Some folks were saying to me that it’s good to stay near Ostend on the coast but your options for training are much more limited.

PEZ: Has the economic downturn bitten Belgian cycling?
DP: I don’t think so, cycling remains pretty much unaffected, everything else might be – but not cycling.

PEZ: Would you ever come back to the UK to race?
DP: Yeah, perhaps, I considered it for 2011 but I want to build on what I’ve done, here in Belgium – get onto a bigger team.

But the British teams are getting bigger and there are more of them, now.

PEZ: And what are your goals for 2011?
DP: I want more wins, I felt I should have had more this year but like I said, I had a lot of bad luck.

And I want a contract with a bigger team, a UCI team.

PEZ: So Belgium is still the place?
DP: Yeah, it’s still the place!


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