08 May, 2012

Le Tour de la Manche

It was a successful weekend for the team in France! I’d like to say at this point that I played a ‘team role’ which roughly translates as – I didn’t have the legs to do anything good so tried to help the bigger boys.

Beach break! We never actually went though: it was too far to walk.

The first stage was quite twitchy and nervous and there was a big ol’ tumble 35km in that took down a lot of the bunch, including me. I snapped my forks in half and my front wheel folded itself nicely around the guy who was lying down in front of me. I was pretty unscathed though; I just took most of it on my head, so no harm done. I chased back on, but then the race was neutralised anyway as 80% of the field were off the back. Then it was game on again.

Well at least I didn't puncture.

Bjorn convincingly won the stage in the end, after infiltrating the break of the day and climbing like an absolute demon. This meant we were holding the yellow jersey! Llewellyn was also up there the whole day but Lady Luck had other ideas, and he came back to the bunch after getting the slowest wheel change since cycling was invented. I got in a counter attack near the end but went so deep up the climb that I was on my knees, and then we got caught anyway. Classic!

Dream team.

Day one had been sunny and rather pleasant, but from then on it was a much damper event. It rained every day. Llewellyn was in great form and was in the break on day two as well, claiming a strong third place after a gritty stage.  

Enjoying the view from our 'balcony'

The morning of day three was the time trial and I was hoping for a decent result to pick up my spirits and justify the team’s confidence in my abilities. We drove the course beforehand and it turned out to be three hills in a row with some descents in between: not in my favour really. I bashed out a twelfth place though which in hindsight is quite good, but at the time I was disappointed. Mostly I was just confused as to how the winner took a whole minute out of me. Animal.

The second stage of the day was fast and furious and Llewellyn was again in the action, in the break, up the road, and first over the line - awesome win. At this point he was sitting second on General Classification so on the final day we had some work to do, dragging breaks back and generally trying to help him out. I did my job for the first 90km or so but once we got to the finishing circuits, which turned out to be hilly and seriously sketchy in places, I was toast. I clung on until 11km to go and then rode to the finish alone. Kinch lost a second on the line and so slipped to third place on GC but it was a strong performance, and a big bonus on top of the stage performances.

Sufferfest 2012: final stage, finishing climb, three laps to go.

We’re back to France on Thursday for le Tour de Loiret which should be a bit less hilly but no less aggressive or dangerous. You can always rely on the French for that! Bonne Journée. 

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