While Ryan Mullen’s Irish road title was the highlight of our Sunday, we also scored a pair of silver medals. Wouter Wippert sprinted to second in Holland from a reduced bunch of 40. Sep Vanmarcke opened a five-up sprint in Belgium only to be piped on the line by Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale). Both races required photo finishes to name the winner.
Here’s what our runner-ups had to say about running second in their respective national road championships.
My race was a city course, like a kermesse, with a lot of corners and a few cobbled sections. The entire race, all 5.5 hours, was stressful because you always had to be in position.
The final opened after 190 kilometers, with 50 kilometers left. We got away with 17 riders. By the last lap, we where left with only five.
I attacked in the last kilometers, but I wasn’t able to get away. At that point, Ken [Vanmarcke], my sport director, advised me that I needed to surprise them and sprint from far. It was my best option, so that’s what I did.
I thought I was going to win as we sprinted to the line, but in the very last meters, Naesen came up and won. He finished 1.2 centimeters in front of me.
While I’m happy with the level I have again after all the problems in the spring, I’m also really disappointed because I was so close to becoming national champion and wearing the colors of my country for a year.
Everything unfolded as I would have wanted. There’s nothing I could have changed or would have done differently except, of course, to sprint a little faster. Two millimeters isn’t a big difference in terms of a measurement, but the difference between winning a national title and coming second is huge. I can say that I’m happy that I’m on the way up again, but I’m disappointed with the result.
Last year, I finished second by one-and-a-half meters. This year it was millimeters. I’m getting closer. We’ll see what that means for next year.