In March I switched teams, as I reported in my last story for PEZ. My new team’s name was Nieuw Hoop Tielen CT, but I only had a contract with that team for two weeks, because my swapping of teams was apparently irregular. Starting in April, I had to return to my old team, RC Pesant CL. I was frustrated and depressed after this fall-out in teams and stopped riding for a full month, and didn’t race for six weeks.
I eventually returned, ready to ride, but when I did come back, I only had five weeks to prepare for the Baby Giro, a 10-day race in Italy. I trained very well and arrived at the start in very good condition, but the bad luck was still following me. On the third stage, I flatted on the first descent of the day. The roads had been slippery, and I hit the deck, my fourth crash in a month. My Baby Giro came to a dismal end right there, because I had no chance to ride the final 115k alone and make the time cut.
For the rest of the season I got some good results – a number of podium finishes in Belgian and German kermesses. I also rode the U23 Paris-Tours and lots of other important races, so I was able to gradually improve my condition and psychological strength.
Dirk meets the ground again – left side.
2007 – My First Pro Season
2006 wasn’t all so bad though, as I managed to sign my first pro contract with the Pictoflex-Thompson-Hyundai team. This is a Continental Team based out of Antwerp, Belgium. Our team consists of 15 riders for 2007. There are many quality Belgian riders on the team, but also the ex-AG2R rider, Julien Laidoun, who rode the Vuelta as well as many other big races in his career. I think we have a strong team and a very professional DS, Willy Teirlinck, who won 60 races in his own pro career which spanned the 70′s and early 80′s.
Dirk on the attack.
At the end of the 2006 season, I took a two week break in October. After that much needed rest, I started to train for 07. Up until this point, I have ridden a lot of hours on my mountain bike at a low intensity, but if weather wouldn’t allow for it, I went running in the beautiful forests which surround my home.
At the moment it is Christmas time, my sign to increase my training. As much as possible, I try to ride on the roads of the Amstel Gold Race to improve my strength on the short and steep hills.
On the attack again.
The New Year
In January, I will head down to Italy for a training camp, where I can hopefully increase my fitness further. I will be there for about 10 days and I’m hoping to put in about 1200 km in this training cycle. In February, our whole team will go to Lloret De Mar, Spain for another 8-day training camp. We will ride our first races in Spain as preparation for our ‘big’ program beginning in March on the roads of Belgium.
All by his lonesome off the front.
I don’t know our exact program for 2007 yet, but for sure we’ll be pursuing the Belgian Top Competition – a very important 10-race series, as well as many UCI 1.2 and 1.1 races, as well as two or three Hors Categorie races, such as Paris-Brussels.
One big race that stands out to me is the UCI 1.2 race Rund um Dьren. Three years ago I got 2nd in the U23 race of Rund um Dьren, so I hope to be in good condition for this race in the middle of April.
In my next story I hope to present my new team kit, bike, and final program for 2007.
Stay tuned for more adventures from a guy who’s doing what we all wish we’d done…