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                 Tour of Greece 2003

 

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Marco Polo Cycling Club

13TH International Cycling Tour of Hellas 2003, Tour of Greece. (U.C.I. 2.5)

 

Short Report- By Maarten van Kooij

 

Marco Polo Cycling Adventure Team for this event:

Riders: Jelle van Groezen (Neth.), Dennis Hammink (Neth.), Maarten van Kooij (Neth.), Ben Greenwood (UK.), Matnur Matnur (Ind.)

Staff: Herman van der Borgh (Team manager), Martijn Eulink (Mechanic), Sabrina Dresen (Soigneuse)

 

April 2: Day 1. Individual Time Trial 2.5 km.

 

We arrived the day before the start of the tour. Our hotel was in the middle of Athens, the capital of Greece. Because of the heavy trafic and the smog we weren't able to go for a training before the time trial. We had to wait in the hotel for the bus that would transport us to the start. But the bus didn't show up! The driver was too late! We arrived at the starting point when three of ours riders already must had started! Maarten started his time trial without a warm up. All the other Marco Polo riders were able to start after the last rider. Because of the chaotic preperation none of the riders were able to finish in the top 25. But, there it was a short time trial, we didn't worried because we lost only 15 seconds.

Maarten van Kooij, the writer of this report, at the start for the prologue, 

without warming-up. (Photographer: Sabrina Dresen)

 

April 3: Day 2. Athens - Distomo 155 km.

 

First stage. Finish up-hill and some short climbs between start and finish. In the beginning some riders escaped out of the peloton, but the blue jersey was still in the peloton. None of the Marco Polo riders were in the attack because we thought the main group would chase the runaways. And so they did. In the final we closed a gap of almost two minutes in 20 km. A big first group with al the Marco Polo riders started the final climb to the finish. There was a lot of wind and the group was broken into 3 parts. Jelle and Ben were in the first group and they didn't lose time. Maarten, Dennis and Matnur arrived in the second group. They lost more than five minutes in the last 7 km! There general was lost but Jelle and Ben did a great job. Ben became 5th in the general for espoirs and Jelle was able to reach the top of the general in the further stages.

Maarten, Jelle, Ben and Matnur at the start in Athens. (Photographer: Sabrina Dresen)

 

 

April 4: Day 3. Delphi - Nafpaktos 121 km.

 

This was a non-climb stage. But the speed was very high. More than 45 km average! Dennis and Maarten didn't feel well today. They catched a common cold in Athens. But they were able to stay in the peloton when the speed was very high and 20 riders escaped. No Marco Polo riders could be found in the first group and we were worried. We had to close the gap but nobody was able to do it. So Jelle escpaped with two other riders. They almost closed the gap but the heavy wind and short climbs threw a spanner. They didn't made it! 4 km before the finish Jelle was back in the bench and the 20 riders were out of sight. Dennis felt better in the final and was able to win the sprint of the peloton. That was good, but Ben and Jelle lost more than 2 minutes in the general. We had to do better tomorrow!!

 

After the stage, checking the results. (Photographer: Sabrina Dresen)

 

April 5: Day 4. Patra - Olympia 126 km.

 

And we did! The finish was in the famous city of Olympia. The first olympic games were helt here. We tried to escape but the teams with the sprinters wouldn't let us go. They were riding very fast. The average was more than 45 km again! We had to work for our sprinters Matnur and Dennis. But we also had to work for Jelle and Ben. Because their general was still good. Unfortunately there was a short climb in the last 2 km and Dennis lost the top 20 riders of the peloton. But suddenly there was Matnur! The small rider drove through the peloton and became 9th. Dennis was 11th and Jelle 21th. We were satisfied. We didn't know Matnur was such a good sprinter. Lets keep an eye on that guy!

 

April 6: Day 5. Olympia - Megalopolis 135 km.

 

Today the final stage. First 120 km flat, but in the final a climb of 8 km. Because Maarten and Dennis weren't dangerous for the general, we thought to escape before the climb. But we didn't even try! The Greek riders obviously were paid to keep the speed as high as possible so no one could escape. We drove 100 km in 2 ours!! And than there was the final climb. Within 2 km the first group excisted of 25 riders. Jelle, Ben and Maarten were in the first group. Only Maarten had to let go. Dennis and Maarten became in the same group en Matnur, the sprinter, found his climbing legs and drove a very fast final of the stage. He bacame 22th. Jelle did great today and became 13th. He tried to escaped in the final but he was chased. Because of the good race of Jelle he became 22th in the general.The very young rider Ben lost some time but he did a great race also.

Team manager Men van der Borgh gives Matnur from Indonesia some advise.

(Photographer: Sabrina Dresen)

 

 

Overview

 

After all we all felt satisfied about the race. Matnur and Ben are very young riders and they had to learn. They did in Greece. Dennis was the sprinter, but he didn't feel well and only got one chance to sprint. Maarten was riding his first stage race and had to learn about it. Jelle was the guy for the general. He did a good race, but in the second stage he lost some time.

Many thanks to Herman, Martijn and Sabrine!! The Greek women never forget Herman!

Martijn and Sabrine, thanks for the work you did!

 

 

 

 

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