Courir Pour La Paix ~ TP Round 5
rounds are quickly ticking by and this week we move to Chailly sur
Armancon for the mid point of the season. I'm four points off the
championship lead and slightly nervous as once more I go head to head
with Bernard Hinault in the "Race for Peace"
So, there I am. Under the iconic arch of
the Chateau Chailly on the front row with Hinault and two of the riding
organisers. Our camera was in the car (typical!) and there were
about twenty people all taking photo's for their albums. Do you
think I can find one on the internet? An an opportunity missed;
again. I really need a press officer!
Still, come the start I'm
first away and lead out through the village on to the open road.
As we turned left out of Pouilly-en Auxois I felt the headwind so dived
back in to the group for shelter and protection. And it stayed
that way for nearly 20k. I have a plan remember!
For a fleeting moment a
tandem came screaming past the lot of us, put their nose in the front
and held their hands aloft. Bit dramatic I thought, but it made us
all laugh and they were beating Bernard Hinault, even if fleetingly.
Okay, playtime over, game on...
we headed for the first big climb of the day, gaps started to appear
within the front group. I was around four back, not wanting to put
my nose in the wind just yet, when a gap appeared to the left front of
I was just thinking "should I
take that wheel or keep the one I've got" when, whoosh! I feel a
clip on my shoulder and in a flash the wheel's gone. It's the
The speed picks up, I'm
riding shoulder to shoulder with Bernard Hinault and an attack goes on
the far left. I'm almost sprinting, pushing 650 watts in the race
to the base thinking, this isn't good when the gaps start to appear a
couple of wheels in front of me. I sit down, ease off and Hinault
jumps the gap in the blink of an eye, leaving me behind without a second
The attacks continue on the
hill and I stick to my pace, my plan and my limits. The group is
all together, just fragmented and not what you'd call cohesive.
The elastic's stretching but not snapped. Until we hit the 12%
part of the hill and it all goes pear shaped.
I'm there or thereabouts but
the gaps have opened to around 30 metres and I know I can't jump across
on the hill. Being a sprinter, I'm too big boned! Some would
say fat, but that's just cruel. The gap opens to 50 metres as we
crest the first challenge. It's pointless chasing them down as I
know I'll get dropped later, so I keep my powder dry for now.
A second group sets up in the
valley, along with a tandem, and the chase is on. And it went on,
and on and on over all the lumpy bits. A core group of around 20
assembled, of which ten worked like lunatics. Me? I went to the
front every third turn and tended to lose myself for five minutes at a
time to recuperate. I played this game until the 70k mark.
We needed to break the group up, there were too many sitting
in. How ironic is that coming from me? I didn't want to take
a load to the end because I'd done this event in 2007 and knew the run
in quite well. If we take too many to the top of the last climb it
could get messy.
At 70k there was a steep and
technical descent, followed by a longish climb. I knew the tandem
would struggle here (descending, climbing and cornering aren't their
strong point) but as they generally bring stragglers back in the
flat bits I needed to put in a downhill dig and distance them.
The group split in half.
The front section saw all the stronger vets and a few switched on
younger ones; the rear the tandem and those waiting for it to bring them
back. Our lead was a tenuous one. The tenacious tandem and his
cohorts kept us in sight for the next 15k. The pressure didn't let
up for a second. In the words of David Harmon, it was getting
On the penultimate climb a selection of four of us got away,
including the gentleman behind me above, Jacques Bricogne. We'd
been together for the whole of the race and he was super strong.
But at the top of the climb we were attacked by two younger riders who
opened a fifty metre gap on us. We had to get back across,
otherwise we'd fall back in to the clutches of those chasing us.
We were 20 metres off them
when Jacques faltered ever so slightly. I built up my speed from
behind and as I got alongside him, almost sprinting, I stuck my hand on
his backside and pushed for all I was worth. I went past him and
he tucked in. Then, as I faded, he got on top of his gear came
past, I jumped his wheel.
It was like a team pursuit.
The wily old foxes against the young pups. We never panicked, we
just knew we'd be stronger together than alone so we chased them down
without a word being spoken.
A minute later, in
considerable oxygen debt, we were back on. We dived to the front
once each, to let them know we needed to keep going, then sat in!
We anxiously glanced behind to see if the tandem and its entourage were
coming after us. They were, but very, very slowly.
Onwards, Upwards, Downwards
We survived the valley, picked up a few stragglers from the
first group and seven of us hit the last climb together with a thirty
second gap on our chasers.
The stragglers we picked up
were jettisoned immediately. Then Jacques attacked and took
one one of the younger riders with him! The second younger one
looked at me. No chance, mon ami, no chance.
We climbed at our limits and
no more. There's little point going over threshold, blowing and
getting caught with a k to go. The descent however is a different
thing all together. Spinning out my 53x12 gear, I gave it
everything on the 3k descent.
As the finish approached we
picked up two more people, including the young rider that attacked us,
but just couldn't get back to Jacques. I closed the gap when I
sprinted off alone with 500 metres to go but didn't make the catch.
He beat me to the line by a valiant 11 seconds.
I was a little disappointed with 19th place, but this was a
top field and I managed to pick up a gold standard again and some more
points which is always nice. I didn't realise how nice until I got
With a seven hour drive, we
had to leave almost immediately after the race to make sure we could get
back at a decent time for the ferry home. When the results were
published on Tuesday, it seems the championship leader didn't score any
points at all and I crept in to the lead by four points.
For the Pierre Chany, round
six, I would be wearing the Trophee Passion leader's black jersey!
Who'd of thought...
Oh yes, nearly forgot.
An absolute storming effort
by the little and large, father and son team, piloted by Bruno Fereire and
stoked by his eleven year old protégé Mateo. They were epic, and this truly is
how cycling should be.
I was so warmed by them that
I grabbed a photo straight after we all crossed the line. You can
see (on the adults anyway) how hard it was and the pain we're in, with
our mouths pouting like Andre Gripel's in a Cavendish led sprint.
By the way, I'm just
six foot, so you can see how big Bruno is. He does Nordic skiing
in the winter; rock hard, he is, rock hard.
I almost felt ashamed to have
to beat them, but soon got rid of that thought! Man up kid.
You'll be a champion one day, some of us haven't got much time left...