After a Sunday at home it was time to hit the road again. The flight was out of Girona which made things pretty easy. I had to wear the sunglasses on the Ryan air flight though, as their plane interiors are such a bright yellow. We got to our hotel in France and I set up my TRX on a set of stairs outside and busted out a quick maintenance workout. I would be rooming with Talansky this week which is always good fun.
Circuit la Sarthe is 5 stages over 4 days in France. Stage one was quite odd. A breakaway went away and got eight minutes on the peloton. A couple of teams pulled as hard as they could and brought it down to two minutes. But there was a lot of racing left to go so they were like ‘whoa’ we are so strong we better stop pulling. But then the break got another big time gap and almost made it to the line. I can only imagine what the riders in the break were thinking when they saw the time gaps see-sawing on the chalk board. But it ended in a sprint finish and a Katusha rider took first place.
The following day we would ride a double, a road race and an individual Time Trial. The morning stage was the same race that Michel Kreder won last year with my help when I strategically insisted he watch Wolverine vs. Hulk for preparation. That win last year was his first pro victory and I knew he wanted to repeat that feat (and so did I). Close to the start it wasn’t raining but the threat of rain was looming. I wanted to wear the famed Castelli Gabba jacket which is almost impervious to all weather conditions, but everyone was like ‘no way’ and suggested I just wear a vest. But by the time the stage started we had all talked ourselves into the Gabba jacket. Damn good thing because it got cold and rainy.
The field was coming into the last lap of the finishing circuit and there was a big crash right at the front of the field. Maybe only about 12 guys made it through and they thought that was cool so they were drilling it. For safety, in the crash area but upright, I had to unclip and with Andy Shcleck in front of me I shouted, ‘GO ANDY! GO ANDY!’ We got booking with the first group chasing the lucky ones. My big teammate Sebastien Rosseler was giving chase but he looked like he needed help. Michel was there, so I went to the front and welded the group together. At that point there was about 2.5km to go. I looked over at Michel and he looked at me. There was the subtlest of nods between us. We knew the work to be done and we got to it. I went to the front again and pulled until 700 meters when the rest of the guys took over and Michel won again, big time! It was pretty cool, a real team effort that paid off and I couldn’t have been happier for Michel.
Later in the afternoon we had an individual Time Trial on the same circuit. It was only 7km and I’m not really sure you can call that a TT. I had a bad ride and that’s that. Happens. I was still happy about the morning stage though and I didn’t let that feeling get spoiled. A young Luke Durbridge won the TT from team Greenedge. Now Durbridge is leading the GC after three stages with two to go. But Greenedge sent two riders packing for Roubaix and now they have the leaders jersey and a team of only three riders. That’s a predicament. So what to do? How about telling the press that Luke has tendinitis and is going to drop out. Genius. But Durbridge stays in for the 182km stage the next day and retains his Yellow jersey. And Durbridge would hang on during the final stage to win the overall. It was pretty impressive of he and the team. But we would enjoy some more celebrating as well. Thomas Dekker from our team won the last stage into Sarthe. Unfortunately, Michel hit the deck on the final stage. He’ll have to engage his healing abilities now and hopefully make a quick recovery.
At the moment I’m in Andorra, doing some altitude training, and getting snowed on. I might have to fire up the Wolverine vs Hulk to get through this.