The 2018 classic from Barcelona was like a race from back in the days: tough but fair. The pigeons were released with a one day delay on Saturday morning 9am, in excellent conditions: perfect weather, pretty much a clear sky between Barcelona and home, a temperature of about 28° at noon, and a slight east-northeasterly wind. It was a race for strong birds that are in peak form at exactly the right moment. The results are in, and there were no big surprises in Barcelona given the weather conditions: the race went rather smoothly.
Barcelona and the wholy grounds of Knesselare
Many people in Knesselare had their Belgian flags hanging out, to root for the Belgian Red Devils at the world cup football in Russia. It almost looked as if they were celebrating another heroic victory from a fellow citizen, because Knesselare and Barcelona seem to be closely intertwined. This is especially true since the unique achievements of the Gyselbrecht family in this international classic: they claimed the international first prize from Barcelona back in 1995 against 20,925 pigeons with Laureaat Barcelona, as well as a 2nd National Barcelona of 13,966 birds in 1999 with Sampras.
The 2018 classic from Barcelona was quite similar to the 1995 race in terms of weather conditions, and the two races had something else in common: an international winner from Knesselare, Belgium. This year's winner comes from the lofts of Team Freddy De Jaeger, where Lloyd put up a great show, claiming an international win against 15,707 pigeons. Lloyd was clocked on Sunday morning at 10:14'48", covering 1087.258km with an average speed of 952.2312 m/min, making him the fastest overall.
It makes Lloyd not only the winner of a 1st International Barcelona, he also wins the title of Gouden Vleugel and Euro Diamond as the team's first nominated (Team De Jaeger had two pigeons in the race).
Lloyd, a peculiarity
Lloyd is a pigeon with a special story. Freddy wanted to prove a point when he decided to put his parents together. His goal was to add some speed to his extreme long distance pigeons. In over 90% of the cases, the youngsters of such combinations are either too slow for the long distance, or they lack the strength (or stamina) for the marathon competition. This makes perfect sense, although there have been some exceptions to this rule, including this very Lloyd. Freddy did not back down, and he paired a cock from the extreme long distance breed of Etienne Meirlaen (a grandson of Old 7 Y Barcelona and Marseille) to an inbred daughter of his stock dam Tsunamiduivin (a daughter of Bliksem Vandenabeele).
Lloyd showed his potential in the longer distance already as a yearling, with great results in the international races from Agen and a top result from Narbonne. This is why Freddy decided to basket the then two year old for the 2017 race from Barcelona, also as first nominated. It is worth noting that he won a national top result from Bourges in late May, shortly before the Barcelona classic, both in 2017 and 2018.
Last year's race from Barcelona had several issues, despite the good weather. Lloyd was able to win a 64th in the club of 244 pigeons. This is not really an eye-catching performance but there is more to it: he was clocked only on Wednesday, when caretaker Marijn Laureyns found him on the lawn, heavily wounded just under one of his wings. It was a surprise that he managed to get back home at all. And the exact same thing happened to the team's second pigeon from Barcelona 2017; he needed to be stitched along the entire length of his body. Believe it or not, these two pigeons were basketed again for Barcelona this year.
Pigeons with such a history are usually no longer suited for racing, let alone winning them, or let alone racing the classic from Barcelona. Lloyd was yet again an exception, surprising friends and foes with an impressive performance. It was as if he wanted to settle something, to show to the rest of the team what he was capable of. Or perhaps he just wanted to say that his time as a racing bird hat come, and that he wanted to take up his spot in the breeding loft instead. We said it before: the good things come when you least expect them.
Lloyd is a chequered cock, rather small in size but sharp-edged, with plenty of strength. He is a regular race winner from the sprint competition to Barcelona. He successfully completed the national races from Bourges and Valence this season prior to his international first prize from Barcelona. Here is a look at his most prominent results:
1. Intnat Barcelona 15,707 p. ’18 199 Nat Narbonne 3,187 p. ’16 – 487 Intnat 7,811 p. 215 Nat Bourges 23,028 p. ’17 496 Nat Agen 2,932 p. ’16 – 1268 Intnat 9,043 p. 964 Nat Bourges 20,280 p. ’18 1239 Nat Valence 7,682 p. ’18 3906 Nat Chateauroux 29,591 p. ’16 Etc…
Sire: Geschelpte Kleinzoon Barça BE11-4312910
A direct Etienne Meirlaen. He is a grandson of both Old 7 Year Barcelona BE03-4364240 (winner of 7 prizes from Barcelona including a 68th and 84th Nat. Barcelona, and a direct descendant of Laureaat Barcelona Gyselbrecht from his mother's side), and a grandson of stock breeder Marseille (winner of 1st club and 21st Nat. Carcassonne ’06 and 2 x 1st Marseille club and 46th Nat. and 72nd Nat. Marseille in ’04 and ’05).
Dam: Eenwitpen Tsunami BE13-4163877
The dam of a 1st Intnat Barcelona 15,707 p., a 7th Nat. Bourges 20,674 p., a 21st Nat. Bourges 23,028 p., a 33rd Nat. Bourges 20,674 p. She comes from Witslag Pedro BE09-4336490 (grandson Tsunamiduivin, and a son of super class long distance breeding dam Anja) x stock dam Tsunamiduivin BE04-3230937 (a daughter of Bliksem Gaby Vandenabeele).
Click here for Lloyd's pedigree
Update: Just after this article was finished, the second pigeon from Barcelona for Team De Jaeger arrived home safely. And here are the results at club level: Barcelona 210 birds: 1-62 (2/2)
International win from Barcelona, a crowning achievement
Team De Jaeger had a different approach to prepare for the 2018 racing season compared to previous years. The racing birds used to breed before the start of the season, and they were usually in good form by late May. However, they tended to lose some fitness towards August and the last national races. Last year the old birds were moved to their aviaries in September, with only the yearlings being allowed to breed, to enhance their attachment to their boxes. The pigeons returned to their loft in March. The pigeons were paired in late March, and they brooded for three days before the cocks went into widowhood. Freddy noticed the difference almost immediately. They were in good form by the end of May, but not quite in peak form. Instead, they were on top of their game by mid-June, and they might be able to extend their current form into the next few weeks, preferrably up until the race from Angoulême.
The victory from Barcelona is a crowning achievement, the icing on the cake after another great weekend of racing from Team Freddy De Jaeger. Let's have a look:
Limoges 315 YLs: 1-8-10-31-48-57-60-76-90 (9/14) Prov 2,138 YLs: 3-31-39-121-191-226-231-341-437 (9/14) Nat 7,230 YLs: 7-82-102-305-482-561-579… ( 8 of 9/14, preliminary results) Limoges 387 olds: 3-11-12-23-29-34-37-40-51-63-64-69… (16/26 per 3) Prov 1,807 olds: 5-25-27-48-68-77-86-93-138… (15/26) Nat 7,629 olds: 15-69-88-195-247-272-307-323-450-608-619-650… (15/26) Chateauroux Prov. 1,388 olds: 61-91-117-233-280 (5/6) Nat 8,634 olds: 243-343-440-919-1155 (5/6) Chateauroux Prov 2,276 YLs: 18-36-43-50-74-114-144-187-198-208-212-224… (21/34) Nat 13,086 YLs: 46-101-125-154-236-425-517-687-719-758-776-815-889-944... (22/34)
Team De Jaeger has been winning top prizes one after another, and they have quite a few national ace pigeons to their name as well, including 2 x 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB with Carla and Warrior. They were eager to claim a national first prize one day as well but it took them quite some time. They were close on a number of occasions, winning a 2nd Nat. Bourges and a 3rd Nat. and Internat. Agen. They were eventually victorious in the middle of last year, with a 1st Nat. Brive 2017. And they went from a national to an international victory in 2018, with a 1st International Barcelona, in the most important classic of the season. Numerous fanciers have dreamt of winning this classic, and that dream has come true for Team Freddy De Jaeger. This team has underlined its status as one of Belgium's leading pigeon breeds.
One question remains: is this the absolute best they can do, or is there still margin for improvement? We reckon only Team De Jaeger knows the answer to that. In any case, many congratulations to Freddy, Kristien, Frank and Marijn on a well deserved win!
Freddy de Jaeger and Frank Morre (caretaker Marijn Laureyns had just left by the time we took the pictures)