26 February, 2013

Melrandaise & Route Breton

I had a couple of races last weekend which were rather different in style and outcome, but both were similar in temperature: cold. The race on Saturday was Melrandaise, quite a good race that finished in a nice place called Melrand, hence the name (I'm not sure what the -aise bit is all about though). It was ruddy freezing so I started off the day wearing a fair amount of kit to try and keep the frost out.

It snowed intermittently on the way there and during the race, and being a contender for 'World's Scrawniest Man' means that I'm not a huge fan of temperatures below three degrees anymore. I did warm up a little bit with the help of several riders needlessly spanking it on the front though. The early breakaway went, and as my plan was to sit in and be as canny as possible to save energy for the finishing circuit I was fine to stay in the bunch. "They'll be back..." I cackled evilly to myself, "the early break alllllllways comes back!" 

Well, it didn't. It turns out they managed to eek out a lead of over five minutes at one point and that was never going to get shut down. I got in a chasing split and we rode around the finishing circuit fairly hard, until the end. I felt strong and clipped off to catch a few stragglers in the sprint but we were racing for 20th place or so.

Sunday was a bit more of a big deal in race terms. Route Breton is an Elite National race and as such had some decent teams there like Lille Metropole, BIC2000, Sojasun Espoirs and various others. An early break went again but I had been told that the finishing circuit was quite tough so I did some ducking and diving  until then and got in a few important splits, particularly in the crosswind section. Having raced in Belgium last year it was a bit of a homecoming for me when we turned a corner onto a big wide road and suddenly there was a crosswind and everyone was in the gutter. I almost enjoyed it.

I hit the finishing circuit in the chasing split and after a few gap closing efforts I was in the front group. All good so far, although my legs were beginning to tie up at this point. Unbeknown to me, a rider from Sojasun clipped off the front over the top of the hill with 16km to go and rode impressively to solo to the win.

Coming into the final corners with 1km to go I thought I was racing for the win, but in fact it was for second. It didn't really make any odds as I followed a wheel and made the mistake of going way too early. Sprinting from 400m reminded me that I'm not Gilbert, and six guys came around me: 8th place.

I got onto the podium/into the car for being the first 2nd category rider which is always good for the team. It's a solid result and I'm pretty happy with how I rode to get there. I was relatively clever and managed to use people a bit, but when it comes to the final 20km everyone is pretty dead so it's just seeing who's got anything left, and you have to go quite hard. I'll give you a lowdown on the races to come this weekend later in the week. Bonne journée!

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