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310km, Two Elite Nationals, Two days

Over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of March I raced two races, the Trophee Louison Bobet and the Circuit `du Morbihan. Both races were Elite national level and had some very good teams riding in each. My training had been going allot better in the week and I felt like I was making some improvements after fully recovering from crashing and being ill. It was now time to get stuck into the racing and not look back.

I worked on some threshold development sessions and V02 max intervals during the week, before taking a couple of reduced days before the weekend. I arrived ready to race with some good work done in the week but less fatigue, so I would be able to make the race efforts needed during the weekend.

Trophée Louison Bobet

We set off for the race early on the Saturday morning to arrive at the race in time. It was a perfect day, the sun was out and there was very little wind. The race circuit was three big circuits and six finishing circuits. The big circuits had a couple of steep sharp climbs, as well as a rolling profile for the rest of the course. The finishing laps were held around the town. We all signed on as a team and then had our briefing, which I managed to mostly understand. I made sure this week that I got good warm up in, as last weekend I didn’t have time and suffered allot in the opening KM’s. I used a set warm-up of gradually increasing intensity, followed by 8x5 second high cadence spin ups and then 5mins at zone 4.

The race started fast from the gun, like all the races in France. Allot of attacks were being made and coming back, our job was to try and cover as many as we could, and get up the road. I was managing to get in a few splits but nothing came of them. I found it very difficult to hold position in the bunch, something that I really need to work on. So in order to be in the right position I had to use a lot of energy moving up the outside.

A small group did get away in the end, and we hadn’t managed to get anyone into it. They had 40 seconds and we were coming into the section leading into one of the climbs. Alexandre a teammate of mine moved me up to the front and led me out for the climb in an attempt to bridge across. I attacked off his wheel and got a good gap with only one rider coming with me. Though in my enthusiasm I went way to deep and with my legs filling with lactic acid, a counter attack came over the top of me, I hung on for dear life to stay with the bunch. Quite allot of riders went out the back on that climb and didn’t finish the race.

When we reached the finishing circuits the race had come back together and the pace was very high. For the rest of the race the bunch was lined out at warp speed, everyone was fighting to get to the front. In the final 3km’s I made an attempt to position for the sprint but was totally out powered and swamped by teams setting up lead-outs. I came in with the peleton. Maxime managed a top 20, which was really great.

We then made our way to the accommodation. We stayed in a very nice farm B+B type place, with homemade food and really comfortable rooms; I was very much at home. It was a great to be able to relax around the dinner table with all of the team and have a good laugh before getting some recovery sleep in.

Circuit du Morbihan

The start for Sundays race was just down the road, so after a breakfast of homemade Jam, bread, fresh coffee and baked tarts we rode down to the depart to sign on.

Today’s race was 150kms, 100kms of hilly roads to a finishing circuit with two steep climbs that we would cover 8 times.

I got another really good warm-up in to get the previous days racing out of my legs. Again it was flat out from the gun. In the first move I followed, all of my race food fell out of my pockets apart from one gel; I would pay for this later in the race.

The bunch split on the climbs and quite allot of riders going out the back, but it kept coming back together. Some moves got a little time but nothing stuck. Leading into the finishing laps a sizeable group got clear. By this stage I was suffering allot from having eaten very little, I tried to ask a teammate but he didn’t understand what I had said. The race was in absolute pieces by this time. I was struggling to concentrate properly now with blood sugars getting quite low.

Quite a few crashes happened in the closing laps on a 20percent descent with a tight corner at the bottom, riders were getting tired and they kept misjudging the corner and ending up in the hedge the other side.

Less than half the field finished the race. I managed to come in with a small group feeling incredibly hungry and in need of some food. Getting in two races of 160 and 150 km’s over the week end was really good and I was pleased that I was able to get stuck in even if it didn’t end up with a result. I’m glad the legs are starting to come round and with improvements tactically and fitness wise I should be able to look for some results in the weeks ahead.

We packed up as a team and headed back through the evening to Bricquebec, dropping off various riders along the way and arriving back just after 10pm. It had been a long weekend and I was looking forward to a good nights sleep.

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