30 July, 2013

Sometimes you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail.

Kreiz Breizh Elite turned out to be a bit of a crap tour for me. I went into it with pretty big ambitions, really good form and, apparently, some bad luck. Stage 1 was a slightly intimidating 200km monster, a good hour longer than the races I’ve become used to, but in the end it wasn’t at all bad. 

I had fantastic legs and that always makes for fun racing. I was getting stronger and stronger as the stage went on which was cool. Unfortunately a break that went quite early on had all the big teams in and that was that, so I tried to save my legs for the TT the next day.

The next day came and I got up bright and early to fit in everything, including a super-duper long warm up routine to get the previous day out of my legs. I should have saved my breath! As I rode from the team bus to the start line I punctured the disc wheel I’d borrowed. One slow wheel change later and there goes my starting time. 

I set off nearly three minutes late on a normal rear wheel and went at about 90% to get round within the time limit cut-off. For those that don’t know, there’s a stage time limit which was the winners time plus 25%, so I couldn't hang about. Again I had amazing legs, and minus my late start, I wasn’t far off winning pace despite cruising the final few k. Let’s just say I was ‘disappointed’.

Lads on tour sheltering from the deluge, just before Stage 3.

Stage 3 was a shorter afternoon affair and after surviving the killer opening circuits around a 4k town loop on the narrowest, slippiest lanes, in a huge bunch, in the pissing rain, we were off. It was fairly fast all day, but was controlled by the leaders Rabobank, so I contained the urge to do something stupid and sat tight. With a lap to go, around 8.5km, on the finishing circuit I attacked. No one came with, so I blasted through the line solo with a handful of seconds. 

Attacking the lead-out trains.

Unfortunately I was caught about 3k later, just before the top of the long steady climb by various teams riding for a sprint and from there I just came in with the bunch. I was glad to show my face and a bit of my form anyway.

The final stage was another wet one and having had stomach ‘issues’ in the evening before and then the morning I didn't have high hopes. I tried to get in the break but didn't manage it and then I went downhill from there. I couldn't really eat as I was feeling rough, but I had to make myself because you can’t ride 175km on just air.

Getting around.

I went out the back door about four times but I’m becoming fairly satisfactory at riding the convoy now, so I got back on okay. I should count my blessings as I avoided a pretty nasty crash coming onto the circuits when 10 guys including those in front of and next to me decked it at 50kph. I was happy to finish a pro race against some pretty good teams and not feel at all out of my depth. For the time being I'm going to rest up and get over this stomach bug.

Happy to see the finish line.

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