Renner Custom Cyclocross Team

Gabby Day talks about her double race weekend with the GVA Essen, and Namur World Cup which featured real ‘cross weather. She also talks about putting on a brave face after last year’s crash.  Her diary was originally published on her personal website.

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Today I am feeling really rather tired after a very tough racing weekend. After months of dry fast ‘cross racing things have changed and Belgium has decided to remind us of what real ‘cross weather should be. It has rained hard nearly everyday and even snowed. Which inevitably meant that this weekends races were proper muddy and seriously tough.

Saturday was GVA Essen, it was the first time that there has been a women’s race at this event so I was looking forward to racing on a new circuit and hitting some mud. The course was a total mud-fest and required power and strength. I only needed to pre ride one lap as it was physically draining and not super technical. I was called up on the front row so was ready to get a good fast start…this did not happen I got chopped on the start and nearly taken into the barriers so I had to back off and so ended up hitting the first off road section near the back of the field. That made me a little angry and some good racing aggression kicked in. I moved straight up to the front and rode the first lap with Marianne Vos and Sophie De Boer I was feeling pretty strong in the mud and my challenge Limus tyres were handling the mud and corners well which gave me good confidence. Unfortunately I had a few slips and slides on the next lap and lost contention with the front. I crossed the line in a content 7th, knowing I had conserved some energy ready for sundays world cup.

Namur World Cup definately has to be one of the hardest ‘cross races on the circuit it is seriously tough. I would describe it as a mini mountain bike course. Lots of elevation with steep descents, tricky off camber and long steep run ups. Add mud to the equation and you have a very tricky and demanding course. I really was rather apprehensive about racing this circuit as last year I had a very nasty crash on the main steep descent and ended my race being taken to hospital. So I had to be very brave and face my demons!

I took to the start feeling fairly confident knowing that I would just ride hard and be confident in my ability and whatever happens I will have tried my very best. As we lined up on the start line it started to snow very hard. It was to be a proper epic race! I started great and came through the pits well in the top 10 feeling strong. I rode the ‘scary crash’ descent and was comfortably holding top 15 placing. Unfortunately on the third lap I had a mechanical problem which meant I lost time and places…frustrating but that is racing and sometimes luck is not on your side. I battled to 18th place. Which is a average result but at least better than last year.

I would like to Thank all the great people that helped me over the weekend…Gregg, Luc and Stephen you were a great team.

I now have a very busy schedule over the christmas period racing every other day so keep checking for more race reports.

Renner CX Note: So overall a successful weekend for Gabby despite a minor mechanical issue and some year old demons in Namur. Here’s a great shot of her in Namur by Kristof Ramon! Oh and how about this shot of the start of the women’s race.
Keep an eye out for Gabby over the next long week as there are sure to be some more great results by her over the ‘crossmas period! Next up Super Prestige Diegem; a night race for the men, with a 3pm start for the elite women’s field.

Renner Report: Scheldecross

December 15th, 2011

Gabby Day talks about her stellar performance at this past weekends Scheldecross race; yet another sandy course. Her diary was originally published on her personal website.

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This weekend went really well for me. Saturday I raced Scheldecross in Antwerpen.

 

I was looking forward to racing as I had taken the previous weekend off to get some good training in, which is to be my last good block of hard training before the December racing and nationals. I was a little unsure of how of I would ride as I had done some really tough training days getting some hard double days in…which hurt alot. But as they say No Pain…No Gain!

Scheldecross is a tough course with lots of sand along the edge of the Schelde canal. It was another good chance to race in the sand before Koksijde worlds.

Pre riding the circuit I was rather unsure of how I was going to race as my legs felt a little unresponsive after my heavy week but I felt confident and positive in myself. And as always my plan is always to give it my very best.

I got my usual turbo warm up and told Gregg that my legs were not feeling that hot, which seemed to please him as normally when I say this I tend to actually have a good race! And that is exactly what happened…I hit the start hard from my front row call up and found myself leading the race which was a really great feeling.

It is actually the first time I have led a UCI race. When we hit the first sand section I used my running ability to its full effect and kept up in the front and found myself off the front with Sanne Cant and Hanka. I was feeling very strong and gave me a big confidence boost which certainly kept me focused and able to keep hurting myself. The rest of the race I battled it out with Nikki Harris and Sophie DeBoer, teamates on Telenet Fidea, who worked well together and pulled away at the end. I rolled in for a very strong 5th place and i couldn’t be any happier about that after all the hard training that I have been doing over the past couple weeks.

 

Check this video link out from the race for some cool Gabby Day Team Renner action!

I am now really looking forward to the tough World Cup schedule that is coming up. The training seems to be paying off so lets see what happens….

 

Renner CX Note: Look out for Gabby at this coming weekend’s double header, kicking off Saturday with the GVA Essen and following with Sunday’s World Cup in Namur. Good luck Gabby!!!

Craig Richey talks about racing Super Prestige Gavere, and the sand dunes in the Koksijde World Cup. His diary was originally published on CX Magazine.

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I may have made this comparison before, but a Canadian racing cyclocross in Belgium is like a Belgian playing hockey in Canada, and the SuperPrestige series is the Belgian equivalent of the NHL playoffs.

I raced ’cross in Belgium last winter and I remembered the riders being fast and aggressive, and the courses being hard with huge crowds. But I think over the past nine months, my memories of Belgian racing had lost some of the harshness. The Gavere SuperPrestige snapped me back to the reality of Belgian ’cross. She is a nasty beast. Nothing is easy. Parking is always a struggle. Signs are in a different language. And you often get heckled during course pre-ride. Thankfully, Gregg, the manager of the Renner Custom team, took care of most of this stuff and I was able to roll to the start line relaxed and ready to go.

So far this season, I have had the pleasure of starting on the first or second row at every race. At call up, the official was joking with me that being ranked 73rd in the World might get you a front row call up in America but here it gets you called up third from last. The gun went off and I was instantly reminded of the joys of a last row riding. Riders who slipped pedals on the front acted as pillions as everyone simultaneously tried to move up. A few minutes into the race, having already maneuvered around at least five crashes, things settled down and I found myself riding with the British and Spanish National Champions. We weren’t in last place but we were definitely off the back. Like a Belgian, Brit and Spaniard trying to make it in an NHL hockey game, we were grouped together and put in our place. After the first two laps, our little trio was only 26 seconds back. I raced hard and felt like I was going pretty fast but my legs gave out and I faded towards the end.

Next up was the Koksijde World Cup, which was pretty exciting, as we would be racing on the course to be used for World Championships in two months. In my opinion, World Cups are significantly more enjoyable than the SuperPrestige and GVA races. The fields are substantially larger and the much more global field means there is usually a fair number of riders around my speed. The World Cups also seem to be more inclusive. Maybe the Belgian fans enjoy hosting a more international field. Last year, I was sporting a Movember stash and had a solid group in the beer garden cheering “La Moustache.”

This fall in Western Europe has been especially dry, making for a lot of fast racing. In Koksijde. just the opposite happens: rain helps pack the sand down and helps ruts to form and maintain their shape. This year, the sand was dry and deep making sections that were fairly ridable last year now unrideable for the majority of the field. The dry sand presented another issue I hadn’t anticipated, a sandy mustache. When following wheels, dry sand would fling into my face and would normally just fall off. But not the sand that hit my lip warmer.

Besides the annoyance of a sandy mustache, the race went alright. My limited sand experience was an issue and it forced me to do a huge amount of running, which brought my lack of running form to light. On the plus side, I had a great battle throughout the race with riders from Slovakia, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain, and only the Slovakian got me at the end. He finished 50th, taking the last 300 Euro payout by mere seconds.

It has been a couple weeks now since my pneumonia and after some decent training it feels like things are finally coming around. Next up is the World Cup in Igorre.

Renner CX Note: After finishing 32nd in the Igorre World Cup, Craig has opted to remain in Spain for a solid week of training in preparation for the intense crossmas period. So you won’t see his name in the results this weekend, but he’ll be back for next weekend GVA Essen and Namur World Cup.

Gabby Day talks about racing the sand dunes in the Koksijde World Cup; January’s World Championships course. Her diary was originally published on her personal website.

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As I am writing this blog post I have a smile on my face and feel pretty good right now. I got myself a top 10 in the third round of the Cyclo Cross World Cup series in Koksijde, Belgium. So I am very excited as not only is my form good right now but this is the 2012 World Championship course in January. So bring it on…!!

Koksijde is one of the toughest cyclo cross courses on the circuit and it is like no other course…basically a sand race in the dunes on the Koksijde coast. A proper hard man’s course! It is physically and mentally demanding on the body and you sure know you have had a battle post race as your whole body aches.

Team Renner travelled to Koksijde on Friday for a pre race course inspection. I knew what to expect as I have raced the course a number of times now…but I guess I was not prepared for how deep and how much sand there was…craziness! During the 4 laps that I did, I was really not impressed with riding ability…infact I would go as far as saying I was embarassed of myself! I seemed to make plenty of mistakes and only occasionally would I actually get it right and feel good about myself! I came away from the circuit feeling pretty average about my sand riding ability. I guess I held confidence in my running ability as there seemed to be much running.

Lucky for us Gregg’s friend Bart has a house in the town so Craig and I were able to stay there the night and relax. Bart made us both a huge bowl of pasta…perfect race fuel for a tough race.

I had been feeling slightly under the weather for a couple of days with a slight stomach bug and headaches…but luckily nothing more had come of it. Although this did not stop me worrying that it may affect my race. Luckily when I woke up on Saturday I was feeling better and focused on giving 100% in the race.

I pre rode the course a couple of hours before my race and again found myself having issues in the sand with the added bonus of excitable ‘cross fans lining the course watching your every move…good or bad! I was feeling pretty nervous before my race but managed to relax myself by sitting in the team van listening to my ipod and getting in the zone.

And now for the race review… Second row call up…Great start…Used my running to my advantage and ran past girls on deep sand sections…Continued to work hard and hurt myself…Focused…Pain Face…Fast legs…Oh yeh a top 10 finish…Happy Face!!!! So that is pretty much how my race went.

Previous to the world cup I raced the Superprestige in Asper Gavere. This is our local race as it is only 15 minutes away. I have raced well on this course before so I was looking forward to getting a good result to back up my other good results that I have been achieving. Unfortunately a first lap crash that I solely created ended my chances. I hit the ground hard hitting my face and knee. When I eventually got up after having to avoid all the riders coming at me while I lay on the ground; my bars were all twisted and my chain was off. I was dead last and could not even see the last rider. Not a good feeling. I battled on to the pits, got handed a new bike and raced as hard as I could to move back through the field. I managed to finish 11th which was ok as the course was very hard to gain back ground on and move up on.

So, overall a good racing block. I now have a small break from racing. I am going to have a few easier days to recover from this weekend as I am still quite sore and tired and then I will get some good hard training in ready for an intense December.

Thankyou to my sponsors.

And a BIG Thankyou for everyones support and help so far. Particular mention to: Gregg, Holly, Pieter, Kenny & Bart.

Renner CX Note: What an awesome performance by Gabby, we couldn’t be happier for her! Check out some amazing shots of her in action at Koksijde by Kristof Ramon (one of our most favourite photographers)  here and here. And this cool video of the women’s race by petitesreines.
We can’t forget to mention that Gabby is celebrating a birthday very soon, so be sure to pass on some birthday love her way!! Happy Birthday Gabby!!!

November Recap

November 28th, 2011

We left you last with news from Canadian Nationals and Nommay France way back in the middle of the month. After two weeks of great training weather and two major races we’re back with an update.

Sunday the 20th saw the return to the Super Prestige series at our second local race in Asper-Gavere. Although it was a very early start for Gabby in the womens race, the course is a mere 15 minutes up the road so that helped a bit. Despite a great start by Gabby, a crash early on in the first lap left her in dead last place. Though the great form that we’ve been seeing by her recently helped her catch up a number of positions, on a course which was very difficult to make up ground. In the end a respectable 11th for her on the line.

Several hours later, the elite mens field took the line, as Craig’s first Belgian cross race of the season. After recovering from a bout of pneumonia and jet-lag, Craig was going into this race knowing that he’d have his work cut out for him. He managed a decent first few laps, however since this years course was fast after a very dry autumn the pace eventually caught up with his fitness. In the end 34th position for Craig.

The two days following Gavere couldn’t have been nicer, sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures over Belgium were such a treat for training! By Wednesday the fog and grey skies had returned, along with a nasty bug that was going around. Uugh!
Fortunately our Renner’s were able to escape the brunt of it leading up to last weekend’s World Cup in Koksijde.

As Koksijde is this season’s World Championships course, the organizers decided to make the course even tougher than previous editions…. which meant more sand! Pre-riding of the course on Friday went well, though the challenge of the sand left the riders with a bit of doubt leading into Saterday’s race.
Saturday saw a mix of sun and cloud with a light drizzle in the early afternoon, but the sun reemerged for the womens race at 1:30pm. Gabby having a 2nd row call up in a field of 44 women meant a solid start, and a good position leading into the sand. By the end of the 1st lap she was going for 8th position with one other rider, but fell back by the end of the second lap to 10th position. Gabby rode strong all race, and though hoping for a top 15 in the days race Gabby had to settle for top 10! So needless to say Gabby was/is thrilled, and so are we! Definitly a great result on the the course which will be the home to the World Championships in 8 weeks time!

Later in the day Craig was ready to rock the course along with his styling Movember stash. Craig rode strong for the whole of the race, but as he said after the race his running held him back. He was so nearly close to the top 50 which he had hoped for, but unfortunately 51st left him one position out of the money. Craig put it best Sunday when he tweeted “51st at the Koksijde WC today. Respectable but finishing 51st stinks, mere seconds off 50th and 300 euros. So much sand and so much running.”
At least Craig knows his strengths and weaknesses on this course, so he’ll be ready to kill it for Canada the next time he races here in January.
Craig is headed down to Spain for next weekends World Cup in Igorre, followed by some (hopefully) warmer weather training before returning to Belgium for some (hopefully) muddier race conditions.

We’ve also just announced the winner of our Renner Custom Team Kit twitter/facebook contest.  So a big congrats goes out to twitter user Karl!!
How have all you renners been getting on in your racing? Have you also been having fairly dry conditions for racing, or do you have a mini beach somewhere as Gabby tweeted this morning “I seem to have a mini beach in my bed…where does all this koksijde sand keep coming from??!!
Let’s hear how your racing has been going!

pssst Sponsor The ChainStay is hosting a Westvleteren 12 fundraiser to buy the house a moped for motor pacing. These very exclusive beers make great Christmas gifts for any beer/Belgium lover on your list. Go on check it out people!

 

Craig Richey talks about racing Canadian Nationals with pneumonia, and his return to the European cross scene. His diary was originally published on Cyclocross Magazine.

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Unfortunately, it seems that just when things are starting to going well, something bad is bound to happen. This was the case two weeks ago, making the excitement and thrill of my first UCI win very short lived. The next day was HPCX, another UCI race and a chance to try and secure another win and more UCI points. For Beacon, I had great form but I also had perfect focus and determination. For HPCX, my form was no different but I wasn’t nearly as hungry and lacked focus I had a day earlier. I raced reasonably well but made a few mistakes and had a couple of bobbles which Lukas Winterberg capitalized on and got away for his first UCI win. I battled with Jerome Townsend for second but wasn’t able to match his speed at the end.

In the end, I was still super happy with the weekend. I had been training hard and struggling to find form, now with a first and a third it was obvious things were coming around. With a week to go until Canadian Nationals, I had timed my peak well and was excited to head back to Canada to fight it out for the maple leaf jersey.

Looking back, I should have seen the warning signs, since both Saturday and Sunday were really cold conditions. Even before the start of Sunday’s race, I had an ugly sounding cough but figured it was just a race cough from the effort the day before. Monday night, I couldn’t stop coughing and was having trouble getting enough air. I ended up having to sleep propped up with pillows so I could breath better, but my lungs felt full of liquid. I thought, “This can’t be happening, I was sick for Nationals last year.”

I knew I was in trouble. My dad was making the trip up to Nationals with me and he made sure I was well taken care of with lots of hot tea and rest. I was steadily getting better and on Friday did a pre-ride of the course and my first real ride of the week. I was still kind of sick but could at least breath pretty well. This was National Championship, my number one goal for the season, so not starting was never even considered. Plus, participation at Nationals is required if you want to go to World Championships.

Once the gun went off, I knew I was in trouble. Despite feeling like crap, I was faking it pretty well and bridged to the lead group on the second lap. On the third lap, I had a high speed crash on the descent that left me shaken and limping a mangled bike to the pit. That essentially ended my race.

I rode the rest by myself in eighth off the back of the front group and the despite a lot of much appreciated enthusiastic cheering I could do nothing to get back to the front. I was absolutely devastated. Nationals was the major goal for the season and I had blown it.

Monday morning before flying out to Belgium, I went to a walk-in clinic and after hearing me breath, the doctor immediately sent me for a chest X-Ray and antibiotics. I had pneumonia.

Five days later, after a ton of rest and not touching the bike since Nationals, I took the start line at Nommay, France. It was probably a little early to be racing but I was feeling pretty much healthy and a very generous start contract had me willing to risk it. During the race I felt good, I was cornering well and felt like I was going fast, though I wasn’t. Francis Mourey lapped me. A couple of two hour rides on weekend left me pretty tired, and it was evident that sickness had really drained my energy.

When things are not going well, it is easy to dwell on recent results and get depressed and down on yourself. It is a long ’cross season in Europe and I still have three months of racing left. I am now totally healthy but I haven’t really done anything for two weeks and the bottom line is that I am a little out of shape. But … I’m motivated and it is time to refocus and get back on the bike.

 

Renner CX Note: It’s been great having Craig back on Belgian soil; after raking in a good chunk of UCI points he seems ready to rock the European cross scene. Next up for Craig is this weekends Super Prestige Gavere, where he was 27th last year after snapping his derailer hanger midway through the race. So hopefully with some better luck on Sunday, Craig will be able to put in a much stronger performance. Good luck Craig!!

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