Friday, November 15, 2013

Update part 2 - French racing - Tour de Bretagne

Anyhow, trying to largely ignore that I was sick I got ready for my highlights of the year, the Tour de Bretagne and the Tour de Limousin. I had been planning on doing these races since before I was riding for TIBCO: I was doing these with the DID Ladies Racing Team, the first Irish women's Elite racing team that I had helped get off the ground at the beginning of this year, for which, ironically, I was now guest riding for in these two races. The trip to France with my teammates was so eventful, I could nearly write a blog post for every single day, but we've agreed that "what happened in France stays in France". So I'll keep this blog civil and keep all the rest for my tell-all, no-holds-barred book ;)

Hmm, how can I fit more bikes onto the car - Photo Credit Stewart Carr
So, our adventure started with loading the trusty DID Team car with Amy, Mary and I as riders, Stew as man for everything (mechanic/director/soigneur all in one go) and Amanda as our soigneur and as many bikes as we could fit onto the custom roof rack to take the ferry from Wexford to France. At the harbour I got re-educated on the geography of Europe, and found out that we were not just a couple of hours from France, but up for an overnight ferry trip..... Well, lets just say my stomach wasn't happy, still struggling to get rid of that stomach bug.....

van Garderen TdF TT - Photo Credit Stewart Carr

We made it to France and started our long drive that incidentally led us straight across the Tour de France TT stage that was on that day. Add screaming girls upon that revelation and of course we had to stop and have look at how the pros do it. Trying to tease the girls away from the TdF buzz was like telling a kid its time to go home from the playground, we made it to our very own stage race HQ. There we were joined by the scotswoman Julie "guns" Erskine and Siobhan McNamara and French Woman Clemence Copie for our team and Caroline Martinez as our 2nd driver and media person. The whole race and entourage stayed in a French boarding school, complete with French food in the French canteen (road racers know what that means - baguette and nutella and sugary cereal for breakfast, EVERY DAY!!!). Grand so, so far so good, the team was complete, we were all signed up and ready to race. The race itself was 4 stages: 3 long road stages and 1 ITT. Oh, and allow me to mention that we were there at the height of summer, at about 37 degrees heat during the day.

Photo Credit Stewart Carr

Stage 1: We were all dropped eventually. I still wasn't feeling to well and suffered all day, finally getting dropped the 2nd time round the finishing circuit. I found a groupetto to ride with until we were finished, somehow managing to ride an extra lap.... The next day was the ITT, a technical enough course, again in super hot conditions. I had an alright time, placing in the the first third, but not really anything to write home about. Day 3 and 4 were again two long and hard stages, on tiny roads with a huge bunch, up and down and lots of corners and the sun burning down relentlessly. It was crazy! I finished with the bunch both days, but only just about.

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