We departed Izegem, Belgium to Maastricht, Netherlands on Wednesday, a meager four days before world’s. Just like last year’s amazing experience it became even cooler with the British cycling team staying at the same hotel (so many team Sky vehicles)! Getting to have meal’s with the professional’s (talking to them too, not just staring at their food and how much they ate) and taking the elevator with none other than Bradley Wiggins were just some of the many countless highlights. The junior team knew the course very well after doing daily reconnaissance rides with efforts thrown in on the berg’s. The big race finally arrived on Sunday with an early wake up call at 5:50 am. The course was incredible, 16 kilometers with the famous Bemmelberg and then the notorious Cauberg, where the annual classic Amstel Gold Race finishes. The world championship course finished about 1.5k after the Amstel line, letting the racers who may have opened a second or two gap close them in the long finishing stretch. This made the pack larger than what everyone was expecting, but half of the riders were turned into pack-fill after the climbs. No move was given more than 20 seconds throughout our race. That kept the speeds high and nervousness even higher (there were many small crashes and stops due to this). It was a madhouse on the Cauberg, with thousands upon thousands of screaming Europeans (a couple American’s included) urging us on with voices and every different type of horn you can think of. I couldn’t hear myself breath (luckily) the last trek up on its brutal grade because of the raucous crowds, which only intensified the higher we went up. At last we reached the top, only to have a false flat the next 500 meters. All I could do was countdown from 30, knowing that a respite was literally around the corner. At last we hit the flat run-in to our final destination. I came into the day unsure of what I could do, but a top 10 was always on my mind with a course fairly suited to me. After 3 hours, 129 kilometers, and many rice cakes, on a demanding and historical course/climbs I came in 16th. This was a disappointment at first as I had been boxed out and hip slung in the last 200 meters, but the anger dissolved after a reflection of the day and season as a whole. This placing, if only minor, was still a slight confidence booster that I was up there with the other racers in terms of strength. I had some lowly ambitions after becoming ill and getting my arse handed to me for a while, but this result is a good stepping stone coming into next year. This race is a major milestone in a hopeful career as a professional biker. Also, it was my last junior race ever, whereas next year the speeds, gears, and distances will be much faster along with bigger. For now, it’s relaxation time! Thanks for reading.