Marc Gomez was the lone winner of
the Milan San Remo in 1982.
How cool is that? Not a soul in sight.
2011 saw the delightful town of Chateaugiron hosting
the fifth edition of the Gomez event which has the moniker Rando Sportive;
or as we call them here, a race.
But it's not a race because
you have to pay higher insurance costs for racing.
just a very, very, very fast leisure ride. With trophies
awarded at the end for those that didn't race the fastest!
This year's event was a little warmer than the 2010
edition so for me it was arm-warmers, that came down once the
race got under way, and shorts. A nice spring day to go
Mick Heald had signed up, but his
footy team (soccer for our American readers) had made it to the
FA Cup final (think super bowl US people) so he had a note from
Andrew Perree was back for his
second crack and Chris Stephens (who missed last year through an
impending new arrival, baby Callum) was along for his first;
they were both up for the 140k. To keep in the racing
rhythm for my Trophee Passion Championship, I opted for the
"classic" 100k distance and Dianne, was to defend her 50k title.
Je suis Anglais...
The Gomez starts in the heart of
Chateaugiron and has a very long neutralized section to get to
the first hill, some 30k away. It's quite a nippy run out,
at 35kph; not too fast and not too slow.
Once again we
found ourselves hovering near the back at the start of the race,
we really should take these things more seriously. With
work to do, I think I beat my all time record for getting to the
front! Within three kilometres I'm there and as we swung
off a roundabout, I'm literally on the back wheel of the moto
marshal and tucked in under his seat box. Job done.
remained so for the next 20k. Perfect positioning,
sheltered from the wind, warmed up from the engine heat and an
armchair ride to the start proper. Alongside me, behind
the second bike is a ride who looks rather handy and seems to
know what he's doing. A few people half-heartedly try to
take "his" position but he's not giving it up. Neither am
With 10k to go
before the "official" start, the shenanigans begin. First
off appears an ar$e with tribars, not clip-ons mind, the full
aero set up. He comes in under my shoulder and tries to
move me off the moto's wheel. I make it very clear in my
best franglais that he shouldn't even be in the race with these
bars and elbow him away.
He gets all stroppy and acts all hurt at my
"apparent" strong arm tactics. He's obviously never been
at the front on the last lap of a crit! I send him away
with a flea in his ear and he skulks his way backwards.
Bloody cheek! What's all that about? I ask my friend
behind the other moto. He smiles and gives a Gallic shrug
as only the French can.
Two k later and
another pretender appears. He's older, looks a bit more
"experienced" but gets exactly the same treatment. With a
little verbal encouragement, he realises that I'm not giving my
position up and he slips in behind me. What a day; and we
haven't even started yet!
Two k before the
race proper begins and this 90 kilo, huge, man mountain appears.
He looks straight ahead and starts moving across, his thigh on
my bars. Now this is getting plain stupid.
We're going downhill, around 45-50kph, we're at
the head of three hundred riders and he's acting like it's the
world championships. Obviously he thinks the lack of eye
contact, and his physical size, will phase me. It's time
to get jiggy with it.
My head goes
under his shoulder, Mark Renshaw stylee, which takes the weight
of his bars and moves him away from me. He turns (oh now
you're looking!) and gets very agitated in French.
only going to wind him up, but he started it (I really must
learn to grow up!), I reply all nonchalant with, "Pardon
monsieur, non comprendre, je suis Anglais."
It gets the expected response; he remonstrates, all hands and arms, giving it
large in foreign tongues, indicating that he wants the moto's
I take a deep breath then, in a calm, collected
manner reiterate my first sentence, slowly and clearly so he can
understand... "Pardon monsieur, j e s u i s
A n g l a i s e, F**K OFF! With an added thumb over the
left shoulder for emphasis on the off. Conversation over!
Having got the message, he drifted back to
discuss the situation with his aero barred compatriot. I could hear them
loudly and indignantly comparing notes
behind me as the speed picked up for the flag to drop, at the
base of the first climb of the day.
Just like last year I was first on to the hill and decided to
climb, rather than attack. A few loonies went off at warp
factor stupid and, as expected, came back just as quick.
Got over in the first group, job done. It wasn't until the
third hill that the pace began to tell. The boys on the
front were really getting animated.
Just as I began
to drift, Andy and Chris came alongside, shouted their
encouragements and disappeared in to the mellee. The first
group went off and I ended up in a no-man's land with another
rider on a red Trek who was super strong. He was pushing hard in
to the block headwind and when I came round him it was only for
half the time he'd spent on the front. Don't fancy another
two hours of this.
Riders were being shelled out the front group and
I could see six or so coming up behind us. Experience told
me to wait, he rode on alone. The first rider to make
contact with me was matey from behind the second moto.
He's lean, strong, tanned and all decked out in matching
"Orange" (the phone company not the colour) kit.
Once the junction was made, and we appeared to
have a speedy quorum of like-minded individuals, I didn't see
him until the end!
How we all did...
For my group of around 20 or so it was a fast and furious to the
finish. As this wasn't one of "my" championship events, I
decided to give it full gas and just drive it as hard as I could
when I could. Have a good workout rather than race
tactically. Read slack tactically!
having a great time mixing it with the mature men, and with no
other women in view thought she'd taken another first place.
At the end she was eight minutes up on last year's winning time
and was quietly confident of another victory.
Andy and Chris
were having a ball, mixing it with the best of them but not in
the race winning break, that had long gone. Still they
worked hard in their group and rode as preparation for the Roger
Walkowiak event to come later in the month.
With one k to go
I went to the front, just as Monsieur Orange arrived. Oh,
nice to see him again! We were joined by my friend on the
Trek, he'd worked hard throughout so I was expecting him to be
there in the mix at the end.
With 500 metres to go we traverse a small, but
straight line, roundabout and hit the climb to the finish.
Two riders come around us but are quickly dispatched and the
pace builds to lead-out plus 1 kph. I sit in the wheels
(no change there then) and wait for the sprint to start.
Monsieur Orange is leading out, I'm third wheel,
there's no one else to be seen. Trekkie, jumps with 150
metres to go and I come off his wheel ready to go around.
As you can see in the photo, I'm the only one on the drops, in
an aero position and sheltered from the wind. It was a
textbook sprint. Job done.
Andy and Chris
gave it big licks across the top to the finish and lined out
their group on the run in. They both had a similar thought
at the bottom of the climb and left everyone else trailing in
There was only
the two of them going for the sprint. Andy (closest)
blinked first and took the fight to Chris, who remained seated.
When Andy sat down, Chris stood up and it was game over.
The 140k race
was won by Pascale Jeuland, a young lady of fine pedigree, she's
the World Track Champion don't you know!
Dianne was a bit
peeved to find she'd been well beaten in to second place.
It wasn't until we realised that it was Pascale's mum that had
pushed her down the order that we felt a little better about it!
It's no disgrace getting beaten by the World Champions mum.
Unless you're a boxer of course.
To cheer us up,
we took the team prize for the second year running.
Dianne, as morale victor, held the trophy.
yes, and Mick's team Manchester City (yes there are two teams in
Manchester) won, so it was a good day all round. He even
has a replica trophy.
The joke about it being that long since they last
won anything, the team bus had to stop off at IKEA on the way
back from London to buy a cabinet, is totally inappropriate and
has no place being repeated outside of these pages.