It was the first cyclosportif road race of the year (for me anyway) and it ran through the vineyards of Plaimont, in the South West of France just North for Pau and still far enough from the Pyrenees to not have an insane amount of climbing in the course.
Distance of the main race was 100km with a shorter option of 70km for those who don’t feel up to the full distance.
Not many sportifs run down South, especially in the early part of the year, so a lot of riders showed up for this event, many seem to be registering on the day… checking the weather reports I assume.
I had registered a few weeks back so received #12 race plate together with the race bag, which had a bottle of red wine in it, now we’re talking proper race bags!
The registration hall also doubled as food hall, where the competitors (and it seemed whoever…. like Virginia) could fill themselves up before the 12:30pm start, half baguettes with cheese or ham or pate, pieces of cake and of course some red wine if you needed to calm the nerves…. I didn’t have any red wine, maybe I should have.
There was a neutral roll out of town to the official start line, and then it was off on a great course with a fair few power pinch climbs and a nice chunk of flat land between km 65 and 85.
As there were many riders lined up ahead of me it was stuff working my way forward on the narrow roads, and I found myself loosing the front bunch just as I managed to get through the thick of the slower traffic. Well that was it and I relaxed a little to let a small groupetto form.
The route format was two loops of 30km and another of just under 40km (not quite 100km total). During the first 30km loop I shared the pace making with 3 or so others, then decided to move to the back and let them do the work for the next 30km loop. Drifting to the back I found another of the early pace setters there having the same thoughts. After chatting for a while we decided the two of us would give it a go from about km 90 .
I had a couple of solo attacks during the 2nd lap and last flat-land loop but nobody came across to help, so I drifted back into the bunch waiting for the attack call from my fellow move planner. He kept saying “90km that’s when we go!”, but when we were at the 85km mark there were a few pinch climbs and he called the move.
Ok, we have a go and blow the bunch up the little climbs, but a third guy comes with us and I start loosing the back wheels of the other two. For a while I rode in no-mans land but eventually was swallowed up by the bunch, who were speeding up chasing the two left-over attackers. I sit in the bunch and know there is a 12% 500m pinch to finish.
On the last 500m pinch I go with the fast guys and finish in about 4th wheel of our bunch. Ouch that hurt! Of the 20 or so in the bunch I rode with, there were 7 guys from my category… two beating me to the line by seconds in the final sprint.
Time to roll back to the food hall, where once again there were tons of half baguette sandwiches, coke, coffee and red wine… seemingly enough to feed double to amount of people in the hall.
Virginia had walked a fair bit of the course and took all of these photos, then arrived back at the hall to enjoy some of the red and a sandwich or two.
Looking forward to the next one, plus a heap more training in between.
- 9th in category 2:55 (category winner 2:38)
- 115th overall (overall winner 2:37)