The 16.897 warriors sent to Spain have been released the Friday 8th of July at 08h00 o'clock. Somehow, this yearly race is like a showcase for the international pigeon sport as it sounds familiar to everyone, from a simple man to any pigeon fancier anywhere in the world. The event enjoys a solid media coverage and the winner's name is guaranteed to stay in the books of the pigeon sport. Needless to say that all the big names in our sport are striving each year for a result that they hope to be unforgettable. The cream of the crop of the European pigeon sport is fighting on this race.
Throughout the years, this race has become legendary because it is the longest distance of the European calendar but mostly because the race is quite often complicated because of the tough weather conditions, especially for the 4-5 last years.
The winners must therefore have several exceptional characteristics: iron will, stamina, toughness and power and, above all, the ability to know how to get out of the mass and then fly alone for several hours. The stage is set...
International victory for a Barcelona 'afficionado'
The man running the Doc Team Delhove-Paesmans colony (a team made up of 5 persons) is Alain Delhove, pigeon fancier since his childhood. Today, it is an understatement to say that he has just experienced the most intense moment of his entire pigeon career. He had the joy of seeing his little blue hen christened ''Blue Night'' coming home on the second race day in order to clock her at 07h10''30 after completing a distance of 1.014 km, which lead her to reach the average speed of 998,40 m/min. Winning the international victory on a race such as Barcelona is for him a double consecration: firstly because it is the most prestigious race of the calendar and then because he has decided to put all his focus on this race 4 years ago. It must be said that on the 2020 flight, the Doc already set the tone while winning the 3rd and the 12th national against 6.178 pigeons (12th & 52th international against 12.315 pigeons). Last year, he also won 9 prizes from the 10 birds he sent but he was however unable to clock an early pigeon due to an insufficient preparation (his pigeons had not flown enough kilometers before the race). For him, this victory is like the ultimate goal but getting there so quickly was something he wouldn't have dared to dream about.
Alors, comment vit-on l'arrivée d'un vainqueur international de Barcelone?
"Seeing a pigeon coming home from Barcelona is already quite something particular. But obviously, it was something else this time. The birds scheduled for St-Vincent were flying around the lofts when I’ve seen her coming from the right direction, like a bullet. Since there was only one arrival at the short end, I directly knew it was an early pigeon. Then, it took two hours to receive the confirmation that I won the national race, the international victory was confirmed much later in the day. You do not have to be stressed to wait that long but at the end it was good.''
- 'Blue Night' (BE19-1067685)
As you can see, the international winner was bred from Dutch blood out of a crossing Verweij-De Haan x De Heijde. It is no secret that Alain Delhove always appreciated the Dutch pigeons. He built his entire colony around pigeons from Nico Volkens and mostly de Cor De Heijde with whom he has been a close friend since many years. Later on, he purchased pigeons from Jelle Jellema, from Verweij-De Haan as well as those from Noel Peiren. When he wants to strengthen his loft, only the close descendants from the best pigeons of a loft are targeted. Perhaps this is the explanation for his almost immediate success in a race as demanding as Barcelona...
An exceptional performance
Just like the 13 other pigeons sent to Catalonia, 'Blue Night' left her home with a baby of 4-5 days. The season has started in the middle of April with several sprint races, always being raced on nest. Then, she flew the race of Bourges I at the end of May, after what she had a second nest in order to fly the national race of Valence, her last flight before Barcelona.
In addition than the international victory, the entire performance of the Doc Team Delhove loft on Barcelona was quite impressive:
08/07 Barcelona Nat. - 6.560 old birds: 1-78-90-125-181-317-411-415-679-689 so 10 prizes out of 14 pigeons in the race including 8x per 10, all of them being home at 16h03 on the second day of the race. A real display of power!
Suffering from a lung infection caused by the pigeons, Alain Delhove imposes an iron discipline on himself by wearing an oxygen mask anytime he is getting inside his lofts. It is obviously very restrictive and not always easy to bear, especially in hot weather. Winning a victory as prestigious as Barcelona will probably give him the necessary energy to continue to move forward and honor the fact he is now one of those big names who have won this mythical race. With the quality of his stock loft and with his smart philosophy, we are convinced he will be able to achieve his new goals. We will come back on this on another report. Our warm congratulations!