THOMAS DE GENDT

Procycling - - Prologue - See my ride on Strava: http://tinyurl.com/birth­dayride

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

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