Jai Crawford Diary
My year with Continental Team Driving Force Logistics (Team DFL) started on January 26 when I arrived at Heathrow Airport just a stones throw from my home in Tasmania, Australia.
The team is based in the south of the UK at Brighton, though recent developments could mean we share time between a base in Merchtem, Belgium and our Brighton boudoir.
I have previously been a cross country mountain biker having turned to the road in 2004, racing for a short period in Korea and the U.S. I consider myself lucky to be given the opportunity to ride with a European Continental team, particularly given the fact I had not raced a road race in Europe. However it is not a task that daunts me, and I have attempted to start the year in the professional manner that befits a professional team.
The team, or the majority of them, completed a nasty ten day, forty hour training camp in early February as a lead into our first period of racing in Belgium and France. My first race for the season was the Belgian Beverbeek Classic 1.2, a flat 160 km race with a short section of wet cobbles. I am a climber by heart and by nature so it was a race I was happy to finish in the front group. My first experience of cobbles was a good one and I am looking forward to racing more of them during the year, they make for exciting racing on what are otherwise fairly boring roads. Our team bikes, the Trek Madone SL, are rocket like steeds indeed, and it fills me with pleasure to ride such a bike. Despite its light weight it handles very nicely on the cobbles, which is essential here in Belgium.
I have raced a series of French 1.2 races, Les Monts Luberon 54th, Paris ? Troyes 47th and La Roue Tourangle DNF. All were similar in parcours, predominantly flat with small climbs, and on each occasion I managed to put myself into severe difficulty in the flat cross wind sections. The team had our leader Yanto Barker finish strongly for 6th place in both Paris-Troyes and La Roue Tourangle.
In between these races I have knocked out a few kermesses most notably the GP Wanzele Pro kermesse in which I managed to snap my carbon bars whilst negotiating a section of cobbles. Luckily I did not crash. Certainly not an indication of my bars? quality but rather a testament to my incredible strength, which some might even describe as excessive.
I am now preparing for my biggest race with the team yet, Hel van het Mergelland 1.1 on April 2. I think this race could be a hilly one, if not I may be forced to rent a dozer and construct my own hills in this place.
The team will be racing Circuit des Ardennes and Olympia?s Tour, hopefully my legs will come out of these well and I can start to perform to my own expectations. My training and testing results suggested good form but unfortunately my lack of experience and real climbs have not seen this come to fruition. Join me next time to hear of my quest to conquer climbs and fulfil my fetish for form.
For more information about Jai and the team, log on to http://www.team-dfl.com/.