This weekend saw Team Baum Babici take on their first race - the 24hrs of Zandvoort - think of it as a mammoth Madison track race as riders swap in and out of the action, trying to cover the furthest distance. Team Member Arjan Fidder gave us his rundown of what was a very hard, but ultimately successful entry into the tough world of endurance racing.
The team’s world was very small this weekend, a racetrack, one pit box plus the room above for eating and massage and three campers behind it to sleep. How difficult can it be? Well 24 hours of high-speed racing!
On Saturday at 12am we started our first 24-hour race with Dirk Bellemakers as our opening rider. Last year he rode for Lotto-Belisol the Giro d’Italia, this year he was with us. He did a fantastic first hour in a break of 15 riders that quickly reduced to 6, including Dirk!
I was a little nervous about the hard opening hour because it was my first race in since ending my race career 18 years ago. Three of the break away riders were going full speed when we did our pit stop but with the help of Team Fast Forward we got back to the break. After 45 minutes with the break doing 50-55 km per hour through the dunes that surround the seafront track Thijs Bleeker had to take over.
Thijs did a fantastic job to consolidate our race position and did a full first stint and after three hours the average speed was 41.6km per hour! After Johannes’ first stint we had Dirk back on the track and after six hours we were in a four way fight for fourth. Johannes and Thijs had the time to reflect a little at the pit wall, knowing that the race was not over yet!
During the day we had a few visits to the pits including two of our biggest fans Bobbie Traksel - winner of the 2010 Kuurne Brussel Kuurne and Leon van Bon - former Tour de France Stage winner and photographer (he took the photo at the top of the page)!
Into the evening and we noticed that our race was not over. Arjan and Johannes consolidated our position in the race before Dirk was out on track and going full speed, running fourth with the night fast upon us.
Just after sundown two teams gained a 4.3km advantage. Team Fast Forward and Baum Babici 24h joined forces and started a counter attack but the two leaders managed to rejoin the peloton.
In response, we woke up Thijs and asked him to take over instead of Arjan and go for the max. For more than an hour we were racing three to four minutes in front of the peloton (one lap is six minutes) but we weren’t able to defeat a peloton of 20 riders and take a lap advantage.
Stints from myself and Johannes consolidated our position in fifth whilst Dirk had to fend off attacks from both Team Specialized and Versteege. With Johannes completing his last stint Dirk brought out a great “Rijstevlaai” (a sort of rice pudding tart) to say thanks to the service team as well as giving Thijs an extra boost for the final hour.
With the sole objective of securing fifth Thijs did not wait for a final sprint and joined a breakaway of six riders and as the best sprinter in the break we finished our first 24h race in fifth! We had targeted a podium finish but if you look at the quality of the other 30 teams we felt fifth was a great achievement.
Finally the equipment from our partners was fantastic, we did not have a single flat tire during our 960 km ride!
Thanks to all, our next race will be on June 21st-22nd at Zolder (Belgium)