Sunday, July 19, 2009

4 in 4

4 tough days in the books. Thursday meant the usual La Bocca crit, with the goal of getting some speed in the legs as I had not raced in some time. It turned into a tougher day when I got a little carried away after taking points in the first sprint. Tried my luck getting away with 2 to go, but no luck that time. Home, bed, then up again at 6am to drive up to Gap in the Alps. Afternoon race (stage 1) was 90km. Some serious firepower with VC la Pomme, Roanne 45, Aix-en-Provence, and the AGR2 feeder team in full attendance. No joke, we held 50+ the entire first hour to the first climb. With rediculous wind. I felt good and positioned myself well, barely clinging on over the climb before being popped for good on the rollers after. Brutally hard, and was pretty happy considering my lack of racing in the past few weeks. Its one thing to ride poorly and not get a result (see the next day) but its another to be simply too far into the red after doing things right. The race finished in the wind and rain (a first for me in France haha) atop a 11km alpine climb. Pretty cool experience. I felt good again the next day for a much tougher 120km race through more rollers with one solid 5-6km climb towards the end of each lap (5 laps). Again the race went from the gun with us singled out at 75+ on the switch back descent. I lost places (and therefor my excellent starting position) on the descent as VC la Pomme lined out 9 guys and drove it after the 90 degreee turn at the bottom into the ridiculous cross wind section. Needless to say, 10 minutes into the race and things shattered. I was not ready. Echelons appeared all over the road and guys peeled off left and right. I floored myself with everything driving through holes moving up knowing that if I didn't get up to a decent group by the climb it was lights out. A couple of guys rotated with me and we got within about 50m of the "group" when we changed into the headwind before we blew. We came over the climb bleeding time and everyone sat up. Lights out. I was mad and unable to chase on my own, and decided to save my frusteration at my mistake for the day tomorrow. A long drive home was quickly followed by another early morning for an 8am start. An odd race this one, being a 4 hour relay race. Basically a 4 hour crit with 3 man teams. You would ride yourself into the ground, then swap out for your teamate. The course was to my liking though with an uphill finish, tight downhill, flat stretch for 1.6km. We had a good chance at the win, so even with tired legs motivation was high. Though we quickly learned it was near impossible to attack much as guys would chase until they tired themsleves then swap out for a fresh legged teamate. Merde. Didn't stop us from trying at least. In the end it came down to me being voted in for the uphill sprint and I was confident. I followed a few attacks in the lap couple laps of dangerous guys but got caught out with a counter attack with 2 to go. Me and one other worked to bring it back, but I still was banking on my sprint and no one was willing to put their nose in the wind. In the end I launched my sprint on the climb putting about 5+ bike lengths into the pack and coming up a few seconds short of the break for 3rd. Annoying as we should have been able to win, but nice to know that I could formulate a plan and confidently carry it out. At least its a first podium in France. Plus Yannick celebrated with beers all around, good times.

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