Last weekend I competed in the local feeder event for the UCI’s World Cycling Tour finals. The Gan Fondo Eddy Merckx was held near Liege, over a hilly course a little shy of 160kms. Unlike most events here, it was timed. Over 1000 hopefuls turned up for the event – the first 25% in each age group would get through to the finals, to be held in South Africa in August. Things started out pretty well. Though my category started well back, I managed to ride up reasonably quickly. I made it up to a good bunch which powered through the first 100kms (1200m) in about 2 hours 45 minutes. Things were looking good, even with 12 climbs, some with 21% gradient, to go. And then I flatted. By the time it was fixed, I was stuck on my own, fighting a horrible headwind through the Fyshwick of Liege, wishing I was somewhere else – even helping replace the damper on a lefty… Things improved once the bunch behind finally caught up and I got into the last 40 kms of climbs. But in the end I rolled in about ten minutes off the slowest qualifying time (for a ride time of 4 hours 55 mins or so). Looks like we’ll be spending August climbing in the Alps this year.