Written by JonhatanHernandez of TeamQuetzal
“I want to break free” by Queen starts playing on the speaker. It’s funny how music can bring us all together, the true universal language. And for a hip-hop person this sound suits perfectly my desire and constant quest of knowledge and virtue.
I want to break free
I think about that lyric often. Break away from what? Is one truly free escaping the masses, eluding responsibility and the social institutions of yore and now? The peloton always catches up. Almost always. Break free sexually? Break free from who we are? My reflection stares at me as I ponder. I wonder...The cycling circuit is now part of who I am. Of us who read this and I who writes. A lustrum, or more for some, of verdigris (not quite, but never have I found such a fitting combination) background in our mails, the squad selections, the international discussions. The cars and the bikes, the riders and their training, the joy in their face when they’ve won their first race. And the joy in ours when we see the points adding up in the ranks. Break away from this? We do the same thing every year, a Sisyphus lifestyle. Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, at least for Team Quetzal. To be stuck in Division Seven, forever. Or eleven sometimes. The pressure to deliver, 50 seasons of greatness behind us, infinity in front. The glory, the money, the fame and the love of the game. It must be nice sometimes, to break away.
Canada has never been place to produce the best riders in OCM, like Netherlands of Denmark, but it has hosted one of the
most peculiar races of the last seasons: Crown of British Columbia. The very recent Top Division race takes place on Day 62. A quick overview of the latter’s page shows the 3-Peat win of Holwerda Cycling, but that is far from the complete story. Let me start by saying the terrain is one where a manager would bet it all on a final sprint arrival. Maybe not massive, since hills riddle the routes of the race. The strategy would ensure that the usual lead-out formations are ready and like 70% of the season’s calendar, the fastest man of te day would win his points at the finish line. To this place I’ve never been but the computer screen shows scenes so quiet, dainty. The passing of the rural landscapes of the region, and the arrival to a small city some would call town. Hilly concrete, in a straight line. You can almost say it is possible to see the arrival from the start. The winds are slow and unfavorable at this time of the season. The statistics, the bets, the managers are all against a breakaway win. But isn’t cycling the sport of the impossible?
On the inaugural edition of the stage, the brave men that dared challenge the wind (under their manager’s instructions, of course) were only three. 170 kms of hard work and not-so-free sponsor publicity at the front paid off when at 5 kms to go, the 15 second away front of the peloton crashed massively. Luck smiles to some and less to others as the three men pushed forward and collaborated until the last 700 meters. A frenetic, slow and tired sprint decided the win. Wessel Clarijs from Holwerda took it. Thankfully no one got severely injured from the earlier crash.
year the feat was even more impressive. Spoiler alert: Dries Blom from Holwerda again, won after 178 km alone in front. He left the peloton at 0 km and never saw it again. For the day, obviously. Bad communication and some strange animosity amongst the favorite’s teams prevented the pack from accelerating as they usually do. OCM TV reporters and commentators didn’t have much to say during the event, but the felicitations and interviews to the winner where much more numerical in word count. As I see the replay, at one point the commentators stayed quiet over seven minutes, and that if you don’t include commercial breaks. Mad.
The third year saw every team try to put a man up front. I would’ve done it as well to be honest with you all. The chaos and energy waste that proceeded was fatal. With 80 kms to go, there were already three groups behind the bunch. It was only after 110 kms of race that 13 riders got a minute gap in between themselves and the pack. They kept it that way until the last 5 kms. With a six second differential throughout the last kilometer the break survived, and (guess who) Holwerda’s Dirk-Jan Helwig took the first place. Not bad all things considered. Back to back to back breakaway wins. A 3 peat on a race is nothing new, but to do so in this fashion? Absolutely mental. I still can’t believe what the peloton was doing. Big up to Frank Holwerda still. And his riders and staff as well. The next seasons saw the peloton holding their stuff together and winning in traditional fashion. Fun fact: Holwerda almost took it again two seasons ago with a second place. Even then, in races and life it is always alright to break free. Who knows?...You might even win.