THOMAS DE GENDT
Kris has shown a lot of ight. He's now back at the stage where he’s really making me suffer in the sprints. That makes me very happy
T his ride in Alicante, Spain, was a special one because it was to celebrate Kris Boeckmans’s 30th birthday. He’s my team-mate, but he’s also been a good friend for a few years now. When he crashed in the Vuelta a España in 2015 it was touch and go whether he would ever be able to ride again. The connection we have has only deepened since then.
Last year on 13 February we went for a long ride on his birthday and we did the same this year, around the Xàbia peninsula in Alicante.
Kris has shown a lot of fighting spirit over the last 18 months or so to get back from that crash, and he’s now back at the stage where he’s really making me suffer in the sprints. That makes me very happy. In fact, his sprinting power is now even better than it was before the crash, and he’s just working on his 10, 20 and 30-minute efforts as they’re still a level below where he used to be. As he has made such big steps already I think it’ll only be a few months before he’s back to being the old Kris.
I’ve got my own house here in Calpe, Alicante, and Kris was staying with friends, but there have been team-mates and other riders dropping in and out recently, so there have been people to go riding with all the time. That’s always easier than training alone. I’m not a fan of that.
As it was Kris’s birthday he got to choose the route for our ride together. It was all pretty standard for this time of year. The first three hours, heading north, were pretty flat: just the odd bump and climb as we got used to the Spanish roads again. We’ve done these roads many times before, after all. Then we swung inland over the marshes of the Marjal de Oliva-Pego nature reserve, and there it started to get hillier before we climbed up the Coll de Rates.
I don’t like stopping in a café halfway through a ride. The coffee might be nice, but getting going again with heavy legs is no fun. So we kept moving all of the way around. However, we did stop at a café once the ride was over. At least we had earned it by then!
To round things off, we had a birthday dinner that night too. Good times.
The friends pause for a quick birthday sel ie, below. Left, the distance and climb stats for their Xàbia ride