Thursday, July 25, 2013

Live to fight another day

So, after Krasna Lipa we headed back to Belgium for some R&R before packing the traveling circus back up and heading to the next race. On the way through, Carla & I stopped in Cologne for the night and spent the morning wandering around the beautiful town, getting some proper coffee and doing some window shopping.
In between tours, there was a Kermesse on in Moerzeke, so a few of us headed there for another hit out! It was a good day for the team, with a break eventually sticking with one of us in it, and Jane rode great to stay away and finish 3rd on the day. 
Before we knew it though it was time to hit the road again, and we were on route to the Limousin region in France to race the 4 day tour there. For this Tour we had the Chief Rene, Pamela on her first outing as a swanny (who, mind you, did a fantastic job without having any experience or even the guidance of Mr B!), and Eoin the Irish Mechanic and chief coffee maker was back again. I was even learning how to understand him a little better this trip! The riders were myself, Coryn, Lucy, Laura, Ciara & Anne. 
Limousin - Right in the middle of France
A quick stop overnight somewhere just south of Paris, and by Wednesday we had arrived to our race accommodation.. It's fair to say it wasn't the Ritz. We were basically camping in wooden huts, exactly like what I'd stayed in a few years ago with Alli & Natalie in my first ever Belgian racing experience. The team had been given 2, with room for 5 in each room, which basically had us taking up all available floor space. Thanks to Vienne deciding the accomm wasn't up to scratch, a hut became free and we could spread out a little more. Eoin also decided that the team van would be comfier and roomier and took up residence in there! 
Our little hut
Team presentation was the evening before the race, so we got that out of the way and stopped for pre race Pizza in Le Grande Bourg.. A quaint little town that was filled with random mannequins dressed in different costumes. The forecast for the whole week was hot, and I generally like the heat, so I went to bed that night really excited for the race and ready to get into it! Especially as I was starting the race with my own bike!
Team presentation
 I woke up early the next morning and knew things were not right. I had what is unfortunately becoming the all too familiar feeling of nausea and before long I was ill. Not ideal.. However having felt like this before a few times in the last few weeks, I figured it would pass within a few hours and I should at least be able to start the stage that afternoon and hopefully by the next day I'd be feeling ok. I made it through thankfully, and my motto for the week became 'live to fight another day'. Lucy and Coryn rode a great race finishing up the front of the front group after being active throughout the day trying to establish a break, with Coryn being only 1 place off the Young Rider jersey!
Eoin preping the Bianchi's!
Day 2 was the Time Trial. Thankfully I woke that morning feeling better, but still went in with the idea of trying to save as much as I could for the next 2 days because I knew I would still be depleted from the day before. A stomping ride by Lucy had her finish 7th, and move up on GC into the top 10. 
Outdoor Dining
Day 3 and the aim was to try and move Lucy further up GC and if any breaks went, make sure we were represented. All of the climbs were in the first half of the race, so most of the attacks were going here. There were lots of attempts to get a split in the field, and it was great to race with Coryn & Lucy properly and for us to be able to cover moves and really make a difference in the race. Nothing stuck and it was all together at the end though, and so no change on GC. Again - Live to fight another day!
There were some good points about our Accommodation! Recovery swims :)
One more stage left, 127k and 38 degrees forecast. With only 1 second between first and second on GC, it was always going to be a tough day. I was struggling to find my legs in the first hour, but gave everything I had to help chase back a break and then just couldn't recover in time to make the split over the 2nd climb of the day. As is typical though, about 20 minutes later I felt amazing and did so for the rest of the race, but that's racing. I was disappointed not to be in the front bunch to help Lucy & Coryn, but in a way I was satisfied with the choice I made at the time. I'd prefer to be out the back of the race after having contributed to the team goal, instead of just sitting on the back of the bunch and making it to the finish with them. Coryn managed to finish 8th as well, and Lucy finished 9th on GC in the end, so a good day/week for the team!
Race ready
So for myself personally it was a disappointing week, but there are still some positives to take from it. For now though it's back to the base in Belgium to regroup and get myself off to the doctor to suss out why I keep getting sick! This week will see us race a couple of Kermesse's too, before heading across the other border to Germany to race the Sparkassen Giro in Bochum.

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