La Philippe Gilbert Juniors UCI 1.1, riding for HMT Cycling Team. Two words to describe the race? “Holy Crap!” this was going to be one of the most savagely brutal races I have ever competed in. After hearing this, would it be weird to say I loved it?
The start was obscenely fast and I managed to roll off the front, more like sprinted, after my teammate Alex had been very active. I would like to think I made the move of the day, following the ‘rolls’ off the front of two other riders, the bunch let 5-10 riders off the front after just 10 kilometres!! The gap grew to about one minute and 45 seconds. After the next 15 minutes or so the break grew to about 20-25 riders. So after all that hype it turned out to be like a Sunday club run, on the descent at least. The climbs were f***ing brutal, but at least they were even so I could tempo up them in about 5th or 6th wheel.
After rolling round for another one hour 30 minutes the break grew even larger, with a group of British riders coming across, I did piss them off a little bit for not pulling my fair share, but what can you do when you have three other close rivals who you have a history with. We gradually ticked the kilometres off to the final BIG test of the day, a 6 kilometre climb which took 20 minutes at around 7% gradient.
BRUTAL, and this was where a lot of the rider blew their doors off! I managed to have a little slippage room, enough to get over the climb only 3 minutes behind the front of the race. And then came the rapid descent. Nearly hitting 70km/h in places it was 20 km of downhill before coming into town for the last, and most testing climb yet. Already in some oxygen debt from my efforts on the last climb I struggled to get up the final full climb of La Redoute. Anyway near the top of the climb I heard a scream, in English so I assumed it was our DS Mark, from behind, it said ‘come on’ so I dug a bit deeper. Coming down the final descent I attacked a small group and ragged it down to try and catch a British Central team rider. Didn’t quite make it but I did finish 51st out of 58 finishers. To put into perspective how tough the race was, there were around 160 starters!
Thanks to HMT for the opportunities this season and I am very grateful for all the lessons I learned from Mark Barry, so a massive thanks!
Trainsharp have helped me massively in achieving my goals, and achieve a result in every race I enter!