Dreamy Locks And Kerouac: An Eyewitness Account Of The Ronde van Limburg.

27504415065_f489e785f8_kA good bike race, beautiful images and some great writing. What could be better? Hence I am very pleased to team up with WPG Amsterdam’s Daan de Groot to be able to provide all three! Daan will be adding his own race insights and unique turn of phrase to Ciclissimo! from time to time as the plucky Dutch squad scrap it out on the roads of Europe this season. Enjoy!

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Images by Leon van Bon courtesy of Flavio Pasquino

I, Daan, think this will be the first time that a race report of a Dutch team in a Dutch amateur race will be published in English and on an English website. It is a debut that fills me with great pride, because the previous reports were only published on our own Facebook page. It might be a situation that native English speakers do not know anything about, but in the Netherlands it is often a bit ‘special’ to post things in English. You are either very good at your sport, you have a serious amount of international friends, or you are just trying to be interesting. The latter is by far the most common. But, from now on, I am one of the happy few that have a good reason to use English, because Tim Bladon asked me to translate our reports for his website. Hereby, the first report about a hilly, hot and heavy Ronde van Limburg. For your information, Limburg is a province in the Netherlands and is best known in the cycling world by the Amstel Gold Race. The names that occur in the report are mostly of my teammates at WPG Amsterdam. The race was part of a competition called the Topcompetitie were the best national semi-professionals (Continental Teams) compete with the best amateurs (Clubteams).

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The Tour of Limburg and the hierarchy of monkeys.

Team leader Jan Dick den Das (this is a normal name in Holland, but I will call him JDDD from now on) starts the pre-race meeting with the words: “This season, Jelmer en Daan, have been the alpha males of our team a bit too often, it is past time that the younger guys destroy this pecking order.” The arrogance, that is no stranger to me by nature, flares up and I exchange a merry glance with Jelmer. With our small biceps and limited heights, we are not called alpha-males too often. JDDD continues by saying that Jelmer and I have indicated at the start of the season that we wanted to coach the young, ‘wanna-be-professional’ riders. However, before we can do that it is up to those young riders to be in the front of the race to be at least coachable.

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Without wanting to make an arrogant impression, I must say that the coaching intention worked out fine for me today. Not for Jelmer Asjes though, ‘the General’, himself deserts. After about twenty miles he disappears into some break-away and we will never see him again. Humility is the only thing that my teammates pick up from him this day, but his break-away fellows (which are (semi)-professional cyclists without exception) must have learned a valuable life lesson. Racing hard is one thing, doing it next to a full-time job is a whole other deal. Jelmer is not up to the coaching role yet, although he is the senior of our team. He is the role model and the alpha male: Let me do the coaching Jelmer, I’ve got three grey hairs and a general’s voice too.

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Before Jelmer went on his epic breakaway, our team was already very active. On the first GPM I accidentally get some mountain points, which greatest use is that my mother sees my name on Twitter. A beautiful moment occurs when I fall back in the peloton. Temporarily overreached and struggling with the high temperature, it is hard to get back in the wheel. Luckily I got some friends with other teams: A little push from Daan Schouten of the Kanjers voor Kanjers team from the East of the Netherlands helps a lot. I think Kanjers voor Kanjers is the friendliest team of our country, confirmed by the fact that their name sponsor is a charity foundation. This name is also their biggest disadvantage, because you might literally translate it into English as ‘Stunners for Stunners’. So, if I have an extra bottle of water and I can’t remember the right name of the specific rider, I always have to address them with: “Hi stunner, do you want a bottle?” There goes my feeling of being an alpha male.

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We have two riders that ride their first year in the U23/Elite peloton, Oscar van Wijk and Gijs Jorna. They have a hard day, writhing and struggling, but they show lots of character. Finishing in the peloton is an excellent performance in this hard race and in the hot weather. They might be the ‘mu’ and ‘pi’ of the monkey hierarchy for now, but they are rushing through that alphabet in no time. They both have more talents than just cycling. Oscar was recognized by the race announcer as the ‘ex-boyfriend of …’, which is no coincidence. With one lock of hair dangling loosely before his eyes and his Justin Bieber-styled clothing, he must be the dream of many a 19-year old girl. Gijs has the talent of bringing me quotes after every race from some book that he is reading. The one about today’s race is from Jack Kerouac: “I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember.” Beautiful.

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As I said before, the race was heavy, long and very hot today. My personal low point of the day happened when I was in the wheel of ‘embedded journalist’ Thijs Zonneveld. He emptied a bottle over his long hairs and it occurred to me that I liked the cold drops that were blown from his hair to me. Enjoying the discarded drops of sweat from another mature man. It doesn’t get much worse.

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We did very well today, we were by far the best clubteam in the race and Jelmer took a beautiful ninth spot. Jasper Schouten, who a priori thought that the hills would be too heavy for him, took a fair 28th. The rest of us showed the will to attack and perseverance as we all finished this hard race. This race will give us morale and strength for the weeks to come. Next week we have one more race in Holland and then we will split up. One team goes for a stage race in Brittany, the other will do the Beaumont Trophy in Britain.

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I almost forgot to say something about the excellent ‘soigneuring’ in our team. Sarah is one of our usual soigneurs and is, according to us, the best soigneur in the country. This day she got assisted by the fathers of Oscar, Jelmer and Binne Pier. These engaged parents are what makes a clubteam tick.

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Ronde van Limburg, NL 2016 Top Ten

1: Martijn Budding
2: Gert-Jan Bosman
3: Jetse Bol
4: Jenthe Biermans
5: Jasper Ockeloen
6: Jasper Riesebeek
7: Hartthijs de Vries
8: Peter Lenderink
9: Jelmer Asjes
10: Bob Schoonbroodt