A tough, rewarding time
SWAS 2016 Male Individual Athlete of the Year Connor Lambert is part way through a six-and-a-half month stint in Europe where he is experiencing life as a professional athlete. He fills us in on his adventure so far.
On March 21, I took off to the Netherlands for six-and-a-half months to race with a club team based out of Valkenburg in the Limburg region.
My experience since being here has been amazing yet insanely hard at the same time.
This has been the longest time I have spent away from home. I have had many ups and downs since living away from home purely for cycling.
I have loved getting this opportunity to live the life of a pro cyclist.
Being able to go out at whatever time I like to train as well as being able to race up to three times a week.
The racing here in Europe is absolutely insane compared to any racing back in Australia.
For me, it has been a bit of a struggle finding my feet in racing, always being one of the youngest in the race and racing against grown men at the top of the game.
While being here I have had some good results for someone my age and not growing up with this style of racing.
Since racing in Holland/Belgium, I have had a few top 20s in Belgian kermese races and top 50s in Dutch Club competite racing.
The level of racing here is crazy good and there is usually about 180 people per race and the races are normally 120 to 180km long.
Also in Europe, I have raced the Irish national championships.
In Ireland, my age group – the U23s – race in the same race as the Elite men. In the time trial, I was 11th overall in the elite men's and I was fifth U23 and only two seconds off fourth and within one minute of the podium.
The road race was 175km long and I was up against some of the very best Irish professional riders.
At the end of the race I was 25th overall and seventh U23, which I was happy with.
I now begin the second half of the Dutch racing season and look forward to progressing and getting some better results in the club competitive racing area.