‘ROOKiE MAKES SURPRISE ELITE DEBUT….
Andrew Rooke GB Age Group athlete makes surprising elite debut after mix up at the Europeans read how he finished a creditable 10th on his shock debut…..
Since the ‘Full on Duathlon’ report here , I have been building for the Age Group European Championships. This it turns out was not what i was tapering for and i was about to make my unexpected elite debut!
Its always exciting to catch the Eurotunnel and drive across to Holland to a race but for the most part I was asleep (thanks to mum and dad for driving). Well rested I took advantage the barmy 17 degrees to opened up my legs with a jog and some strides when we arrived in Holland.
Saturday I headed to Horst to meet & greet the other Brits, pick up my race number and attend the race briefing. This all went to plan, as far as I was aware I was off at 2pm with all the other age groupers, just like last years World Champs in Gijon, Spain.
After the briefing we then drove the course, using the map we had printed which was fortunate as everyone (including us) went wrong no end of times. The course was complicated and full of corners, at the time I thought this was good as I would be on my road bike and therefore the time trial bikes wouldn’t gain too much (still thinking about the AG race).
Race day I woke up feeling fairly good, unlike most race days, this was reassuring and left me feeling confident about the day ahead. We headed down to the course to watch the long distance race (well done Lucy G and Matt) and then to rack the bike.
The transition was unusual, as the racking was metal fencing type used to block off roads, me and a few fellow Dutch competitors found this tricky to fix our shoes and fit them through the gaps in the fence. I set up the bike and scoped out transition exits crucial for a quick entry and exit, historically not my forte. I also found myself talking to a French elite who was racking for another race (so I thought).
My Dad suggested we watch the elites start then we heard over the tannoy the u23 (my category) were off in 15minutes, at that point we assumed it was me? I then found myself in the daunting situation of being on the start line not knowing if I was in the right race or not, I thought oh well it’s a good opportunity to show how I’m running at the moment !
Through run 1 I headed up to the front to make sure I went with early pace, which I found to be comfortable after a quarter of the first lap I found myself running at the front with the eventual winner leading him back into T1 and scoring the fastest run split!
At this point in the race i realised the race was draft legal which I wasn’t expecting, but happy with as I’d done some drafting training with my squad the T2coaching junior elites. I found myself sharing the load with the Belgian, I was tucked in on a windy sections when I saw the confusedly gazed of the elite team managers as they didn’t enter any Brits in the race!
Ultimately the lack of preparation for the criterium format meant the more experienced riders got the better of me and I got swamped by the peloton sitting in on the straights but struggling to hang on in the technical corners.
A quick T2 which we have practiced throughout the winter got me out in the pack and i managed to move up strongly to finish exhausted just outside the top 10, still confused as to whether I was in the right race or not.
The race was a great experience and showed me that i have a bright future in elite duathlon but highlighted that my bike handling skills are an area I will be focusing on with my coach. My run is strong and still with more to come is exciting. It was good and enjoyable eye opener in the elite racing scene if unexpected.
Report provided by T2Coaching