Ronde de L’Oise
My first stage race back in the racing game proved to be a hard affair with many of Europe’s best continental development teams such as Etixx, Rabobank, Vendee U and Giant-Shimano. Throw in Bretagne Seche, La Pomme Marseille plus a couple of other hitters like the Danish team Cult Energy and you have a pretty tough 4 day bike race.
The race started in a slightly surreal manner, for the first little while I was the only team member racing thanks to a small misunderstanding over the start time. I’ll leave the rest of that to your imagination.
I’d say the overriding feature of the L’Oise region of France is its long, rolling, open roads. When the wind is blowing they are not too much fun, and the wind was blowing strong. My legs felt ok in general, definitely improving as my quest for form continues.
Most stages ended up being around the 5 hour mark, so it was a perfect race to find some form. I just had to do a fair amount of suffering to find it!
During the last stage I was given the order to ride on the front with two of my team mates which went well until about the 150km mark where my legs completely blew their doors off and I went back through the bunch like a lead balloon. Swapping off with Bretagne Seche at the front off the bunch was grim as hell, but secretly I did love it. Even though I was silently cursing my team mate Jack for nearly riding me off his wheel a couple of times, the mad man.
As is my preferred style, I did my best to make the early break on each stage, although my attempts became a source of amusement for most of my team mates. It is fair to say my kick to escape the bunch is pretty non existent at the moment and my acceleration is akin to that of a fully loaded cargo ship. Oh well, my kick will return in time after a bit more racing in the legs!!
I also was consistently reminded of the fact that I’m the tallest rider in the bunch. Something that was highlighted when a Danish rider got his handlebars caught round my knee. I looked down to find this small blonde boy stuck to me. I managed to shake him loose easy enough with no one crashing, but it was a reminder that bike riders are a bunch of midgets. I mean I’m just an averaged sized boy really.
The old lean up (diet) is going well with my nutritionist as well which is a slight relief. I’ve lost 0.5% fat in 2 weeks according to the callipers. If I hadn’t lost anything I would probably have cried because I have been quite hungry. For the most part I have managed to stick to the diet and in no way whatsoever had the odd weak moment in a Belgium patisserie.
My next race will be Halle-Ingooigem, quite a biggie in Belgium, on Wednesday 25th June which will be cool. I’m hoping the suffering in France will have paid off and the legs will be turning that bit better. After that it is the National Championships, I’ll be looking to do a good ride there!