If only for a four day reprieve...
Route de France wrapped up yesterday. Solid race, but still a longggg 7 days of driving, questionable food, questionable sleeping quarters and hard racing.
Overall, I was fairly happy with how it all panned out. The last day was probably my best physically and mentally. Had a little bit of getting back in the groove of racing to do.
From where I left off:
3rd day :
Wasn't too eventful. Anne Samplonious went off about 40k into the race so we just got to patrol the front. Nederland Bloeit started chasing harder as the gap went up to 6 min., but it was still fairly controlled. Unfortunately, Anne got caught with about 300m to go, but got a bunch of prizes for her effort. One of those heart breaking catches you always see during the Tour that HTC seems to have down to a science. The last 5km was a ridiculous crash fest on a narrow semi-descent. People were flying all over the place and there was probably 3x as many close crashes as actual crashes. Only one broken bone out of it all though.
4th day was an exciting one. Started off with the team car not starting just before the start. There may have been a slight gas type mix up... Just another bump, no big stress. It was raining and windy so of course the pack was strung out and guttered right from km 0. Hard way to start the day. A break got away at 20k or so and stayed away for the rest of the day. Right after that I flatted and had a few moments of panic about who was going to change my wheel, but neutral stepped up despite being a little slow and the rest of the cars were pretty good at helping me back through the caravan. Rest of the day wasn't too exciting. Our group almost caught the break but then heading onto the circuit the front wiped out turning onto the bridge.
TT. Super fun, rolling course. Not so fun with no TT bike and ridiculous clip on aerobars. Did what I could and down to 2 days to go.
Pretty hard from the start, with a good climb early on. Also, managed to have my inhaler come out of my pocket in the neutral start and explode...made for super awesome breathing and smoker's hack the next day. Things came back together and stayed pretty calm until the last 15k or so where there was another 4-5k climb. Legs weren't feeling too great from the TT ...and poor positioning probably didn't help me out too much either. Worked my way up and almost made it across...but no quite. Ah well.
Stoked, because it's almost over and we get to get out of France for a while (I think only bike racers can appreciate the disdain for this country, maybe not so much tourists).
Neutral start rolling out to the climb
It was likely the hardest day, with the group on full gas right from the start. With Judith Arndt only 3 seconds out of yellow, and a bunch of other teams w nothing to lose, everyone wanted to be aggressive. The fact we started climbing from km 0 to km 5 didn't make things any easier. Everyone was shattered across the road strung out probably less than 2 minutes into the race. Had better legs today and managed to make it down the descent into the front group, where it was game on. Attack, cover, cover, try and breathe for a bit and then all over again. Things were going left, right and centre for probably 15km. Finally a big group got established that Erinne Willock was in, so we could sit up for a bit. But of course Arndt was in the break...the yellow jersey wasn't. So another 50km of single file high tempo by Marianne Vos and team. Trust me when Vos is on the front, even in a draft it hurts. Especially after 6 days of racing. With maybe 25k to go the break got caught but there were still attacks going off, so we were still riding in pretty much single file. No pack surfing today. Hit the circuits with 17k to go, and was feeling pretty good about anything. Of course on the second loop I had to pick the precise patch of pavement where a excessively large nail was and instantaneous BOOM. Managed to sketchily kind of slow down and get myself around the corner without killing anyone in the back behind...get a wheel change, and finish the last 10k myself. Because the race was going and we were in the circuits you can't really get any drafting help from the team car even in a mechanical situation. How she rolls I guess. Just gotta hope the nail can now be extracted from my carbon wheel.
Nail dans the wheel
Misadventure toll for the week:
1 broken spoke
1 crash and new scar on the knee
1 rock induced flat
1 nail induced flat
1 semi broken shifter
1 exploded inhaler
Result: 31st GC (pour moi, but a co-equipper in 8th), 7th young rider, 5th team GC
Gotta love bike racing.
We've got 4 days to rest and cobble everything back together... get re-aligned and what not and then we're back to France on Thursday for the hardest World Cup of the circuit, GP de Plouay on Saturday!!