Archive for September, 2007
France is a country of great diversity and it certainly stands out for me when I fly north for racing near the Belgium boarder. The dull block houses lining the streets resemble that of southern
Saturday brought one of the oldest semi classics in Europe, Paris Brussels. First won by Andre Henry ofBelgium in 1893, it was contested over a parcour of 400km. This sort of distance is just unheard of these days as the UCI has caps on how long races can be, and I know many of the peloton are happy about that, as the thought of racing from the Champs-Elysées in
Over following eights days there are four other one day races on in the area, and for the riders who didn’t take part in the Vuelta a Espana or Tour of Poland these one day races are used as vital build up races for riders preparing for the World Championships in two weeks time. So the fields are always strong and filled with quite a few motivated big names ready to mix it up.
For me I went into the race preparing to help out our sprinter Seb Chavenal as there was a good chance of a mass bunch sprint with the fast rolling course, and sure enough it ended in a mad dash for the line through the streets of Brussels with a good part of the bunch still in tact. With a few k’s to got I got Seb on my wheel and started to position him, though he was having an off day at left me to go on my own. On the last corner with a kilometer to go I found myself on Thor Hushovd’s wheel about 7 back from the front and though here we go, just follow and you’ll be in the mix. Though it wasn’t quite to be as the Liquigas lead out train set up for Luco Paolini stalled with about 700m to go and I got swamped from behind, I fought my way out again but was to late and didn’t quite have the legs to finish it as I died in the final meters anyway and must have been past by around 8 guys within 50m of the line.
All in all though I was happy to get amongst the action at the front end of a race, as it’s sure has been a long time since I last did that, though hopefully not the last.
After a quick shower it was back across the boarder to
I am now taking a few days easy before returning to the north on Thursday for Tour de la Somme in Normandie on Friday. I was lucky enough however to receive my suitcase yesterday afternoon after putting it on the plane to
Below are pics from the last couple of days. First my two favourite soigners Aurélie and Sofie at GP Fourmies, always good value and look after the fellas very well. Then a few from the freak hail storm I got caught in training yesteday, not really what your after on a recovery ride but there wasn’t a lot I could do to get away from this one than take cover under some trees and hope they didn’t fall over like many other others did blocking roads all around town. And finally the dark gloomy skies that were left over Albi that evening.
Will be back again soon with news from the next weekend racing. Cheers
During the past week I also had a few decisions to make after originally being named in the team for the World Road Champs to be held in Stuggart Germany in three weeks.
Planning is certainly an important part of being a cyclist and can also often be the difference between getting results or not. My long time coach Graham Bunn has always helped me with this and like I been a big believer of trying to make the most of all the opportunities that come my way, though now times are changing and sometimes you have to know when to say ‘no’ to racing and stick to the plan.
When I got back on the bike I thought maybe around October, November I could be finding some form and targeting races, and to be honest things have progressed quicker than I thought. Though not quick enough to be able to mix it with the best over a very testing 260km course on the 30th of September, so I decided I would step down and continue with my original plan. I’m sure as I watch the race on TV I will be wondering how I would have stacked up but also know I made the right decision. The World Champs will come round again and I do hope I will be able to pull on the black jersey for them again soon.
Late Friday night just after returning home from Poitou Charentes an Ambulance pulled up outside the apartment, and inside there was Pete laid out straight in his newly fitted corset, now kids don’t try this at home please, its not really a cool thing to do arriving home in an ambulance. As Pete descended from the Ambulance and took virtually his first steps since straddling his bike the Saturday previous, our good mate Scotty Lyttle had come to welcome Pete also, and saw a bit of déja vu, thinking it was only about 3months since I had done the same.
Well Pete didn’t stay long in Albi as he was able to fly home to NZ just three days later and an enjoy some real home comforts, though I’m not sure how comfy the couch really can be with a full plastic corset.
For me with 10days until my next race it was time to get into some training and keep working on my form as I build up for the next couple months. So it was time for a few of what we call bucket sessions (that’s where you put a bucket beside the trainer just in case you need to bring up breakfast when your finished) though I didn’t need it this time. With a few erg sessions and also a couple behind the derny (pedal motor bike) to help work on my pedaling rhythm and top up a little speed for the weekends racing, I left Albi actually feeling like a bike racer for the first time in a while.
Though only a few hours later I was reminded that there are many things that you have to remember to be a pro bike rider. As I sat in Charles de Gaule airport waiting for my suitcase and half an hour later it still hadn’t arrived I remembered I hadn’t put my cycling shoes in my hand luggage, and in our team that’s almost a criminal offence. If the Director found out that would be the end of me, well not really the end but he wouldn’t be happy. Lucky we were passing service course for lunch, so I could have a quiet word with the good man Fred who hands out the kit and see what he could come up with. It was my lucky day he had some shoes in my size, filled a bag of kit for me and off I went to the start village of tomorrows race, Paris Brussels. The day after I race again in GP Fourmies, so it will be big weekend of velo with both races over two hundred kilometers long. Will let you know how it goes soon. Cheers
Four days of rolling country side in western France with a bit of sun, a lot of wind and some massive crowds out to support their French hero’s.
The Tour du Poitou Charentes doesn’t have the most interesting parcour to make for exciting racing, though the 2007 edition was far from boring with plenty of wind blow across the small exposed country roads shattering the peloton into small groups at many different times of the race.
For me coming into the race with little form due to the long break from racing I knew I was here to keep the boys hydrated and help out along the route where I could, and over the last four days I found myself with more than enough work to do. On day two we were warned that there would be long stretch of cross after about 10km, everyone knew it was coming and sure enough the bunch exploded as the smack went down at the front. I sniveled my way up the bunch and was happy to be in the top 15 to 20 riders with three of my team mates near by. Though it wasn’t to be for long as there was a crash at the turn into the cross wind and our rider highest on GC had fallen, and through radio I hear the director screaming for some of us to come back and help. So I swung left descended through four or five groups thinking to myself now this could be a very long day with still 170km to go, and it sure was as I never actually got far enough back to find our leader as two others did and all three ended up pulling the pin as they were minutes down and the race was on as it swung into the head wind and didn’t ease up.
Though sometimes you have to have a bad day for a good one to follow, and that was how it went for us. With only five guys left in the race we had a hard job on our hands to bring back the break away on day three. In the end I and two team mates chased flat stick for 50km and got the break with in reaching distance for the peloton, and as the race thundered into Chatellerault the home town of our team sprinter Sebastien Chavenal he made the most of the opportunity taking line honors with both hands aloft. It may not have been me who crossed the line first but a team victory is always a great feeling, especially when you know you put in a few yards to help out.
With another stage win on the last day by one of the stagiaires from our team we all went home happy with a successful week. I felt pretty content to have made it though five days of racing and was looking forward to a few days rest before getting stuck into some more training and continuing with some rehab work on my leg which is still not 100%.
Sorry this one report has turned up a little late so the following post will fill you in on the past week.
Below: Seb Chavenal takes victory in Chatellerault.