20 March, 2014


Having not made the cut for the second Coupe de France race, Sunday's outing was a slightly lower key affair and, rather handily, was just down the road. I say lower key; it was still an Elite National and had countless ex-pros, the Europcar feeder team Vendee U, and a lot of hungry ambition present. I was hungry. I’m always hungry. Luckily I bought some rice for before the race! I also wanted to win, lots. 

'I don't think this is going to work out...'

On Saturday when I was out training I had very good sensations (290 watts for two hours, no sweat, for those interested). Sunday rolled around and I felt even better, it was madness. I’m milking this a bit because riders worldwide will know that feelings like this do not come around very often, particularly not on race days. After avoiding a potentially disgusting collision with a traffic island 15k in, myself and Pol headed up the road in a counter attack to join the early break in which Nantes weren’t represented. We had a lot of passengers and even when we converged on the breakaway it wasn’t ideal. We couldn’t get more than 50 seconds and having two riders there we were obliged to drive it, despite it being almost certainly doomed. After about 20k we knocked it on the head and the peloton regrouped.

Death attacks- commence!

From this point there were countless splits, surges, attacks, counters and other racing frivolities. We were racing through some narrow lanes complete with dust, gravel and a lung-opening dose of crottes de vache, and looking behind at the carnage I have to say I smiled. I had another pant-wetting moment involving a gravelly right hander which came out of nowhere, an old boy marshal without enough puff to blow his whistle, and an on-bike pirouette to avoid eating tarmac. I stayed upright.

Smiling like I really mean it.

When we arrived at the finishing circuits for five laps of 4k, there was a group of five riders still just ahead, so my teammate Anthony and I one-two'd our group and I managed to split it and ride up to the front with a few others. The final laps were war: with two riders from Vendee U, two from AuberVilliers (another decent squad) and various others, I decided to take the fight to them. I threw down some pretty savage death attacks, of which the final one dragged myself and two others off the front, but I couldn't shake them and getting trounced in the sprint was an unfortunate inevitability. I'm less happy, more content with 3rd, but I am really pleased with the physical progress I've made this season.

You know it's been a toughie when the winner (right) doesn't even look that happy post line.

I'm heading up to Bretagne for Fleche-Locmine on Sunday.

Until then.

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