This weekend I had 2 races, St Potan (cat 2/3) on Saturday, followed by Plumaugat (cat 3)on Sunday. I had an easy week of training leading into the races, meaning I would be more fresh and have more energy going into the weekend.
An early start was needed on Saturday, since I had 2 stages of the race. In the morning I had a TimeTrial which was very short- 4.5km. I did average in this, losing 30 seconds to the winner. I was happy enough with that result, knowing I would have a chance to change things in the afternoon stage.
Our team briefing for the afternoon was simple enough- we had to attack the race hard, and force splits. I was more than happy to do this as I am very good at attacking and disrupting the race rhythm. As soon as the race started we were attacking. Quickly enough, a group of 6 gets up the road (2 of my team mates were in it which was great). This happened within the first 2km which would seem unusually early, but it made it easy for all of us in the peloton, as we were able to relax and just follow any moves.
The breakaway managed to get a surprisingly big gap quickly, within 10 minutes they had a 40 second gap. This was quite strange, since it was so rare for a breakaway to get a really strong advantage so quickly. I could feel people in the peloton were getting annoyed and wanted to bring back that breakaway, but no one in my team were going to help, as we had 2 riders in the breakaway and this benefitted us the most.
Eventually, after about 40km, another split happened, with 5 riders escaping the peloton. I was very annoyed to have missed this move since I was completely aware this would happen, but I just put too much energy in before the move happened, and I was caught out in the wrong place at the wrong time. The peloton were frantically trying to bring back the split, but it was unsuccessful. I knew that if I wanted to get back to the front of the race, I would have to do it myself, or maybe with a couple of people to help me. Because by now I had 4 team mates up the road.
I attacked out of the peloton, and eventually got a sustainable gap where I could settle into a tempo rhythm. I caught up with 2 riders stuck in between the peloton and the front of the race. (By now the front of the race was 11 riders, since the split caught the breakaway. The gap was over 90 seconds).
As I started working with the 2 other riders, we make slow but steady progress. The front of the race were still going hard, but we just had to keep a consistently high speed to make sure we kept making ground. After about an hour of chasing, we finally had the front of the race in our sight! We could see the team cars just behind the riders, and this was a good sign. Although it still wasn’t easy to make that final effort to get into the group, it was very rewarding to have made it. As soon as I got back in the front of the race, I thought it would be easier. But little did I know, it still wasn’t easy at all, and I was probably putting in even more effort just to stay in. This was because there was 1 rider up the road, ahead of us all, and the group were trying to chase and catch that rider. Eventually I managed to relax a little bit, once it was all back together and no one was up the road. However this never lasted too long, and I was just feeling exhausted from chasing to get back into the group for an hour. So I sat in as much as I could, and did as little work as possible so that I could just save myself for the sprint.
In the final 5km, one of my team mates did a big attack, and got a gap from all of us. This was great because it meant our team could potentially win it. But everyone was fighting to catch my team mate ahead. Soon enough, they gave up and accepted the fight for second place instead. I simply just didn’t have the energy to do anything, so I just sat in, and waited for the sprint. It was a fast sprint, probably 60-65kph for the final km, and my team got 1st, 2nd, and 4th which was amazing! I rolled in 8th which I was fine with, as I just put myself on the back foot all day, but I knew I could’ve done better.
It was a great time to celebrate as a team, taking in most of the prizes and glory. It was a real real effort today, and it definitely paid off.
Sunday was a slightly different race. A 4.5km circuit, 19 times. I was looking forward to this, as it was a slightly easier field, and the course was well suited to me.
I made sure to put yesterdays events behind me, and focus on the race today. It was very unusual how saturday panned out, with the race winning move going in the first 2km, that is simply a very rare occasion, and I didn’t want that to affect how I rode on Sunday.
As soon as the race started, riders start attacking and trying to get away, I was mid pack, watching everyone sprint away and think they were brave for trying. After a couple of laps, I was quite alarmed to find out that there was now a group of 8 riders a minute ahead of the peloton. I knew if I wanted to have any hope of a decent result, I would have to join that breakaway. So I attacked and went solo. I got about 30 seconds ahead of the peloton, but by now they were chasing hard. I was joined by a group of 3, one of whom was my team mate. We worked well for a while, but eventually the peloton caught us. It was frustrating, because there was no way of catching the breakaway by this point. They had a 2 minute gap to us, and they were only extending it more.
I began to try and think of what I can make out of this unfortunate situation. I was fighting for 9th place at best, and there was no chance of doing better. I begin to attack and try to pull away with a few other riders, but the peloton were just sticking to me like glue. In the final couple of laps, the pressure increases and the peloton stretches out with the high pace. I stay around the front to patrol any moves. It all came down to the sprint, and I got 2nd, which put me in 10th overall. A frustrating race, but valuable for sure.
It was so strange to have had such similar situations happen both days this weekend, with the race winning moves happening in the first 2km. But I thoroughly enjoyed both days, and they taught me a lot.
I am currently writing this in England, since I arrived on Monday to sort out a couple of things over here, and meet family and friends. I also realised I need some time off the bike, to reset and freshen up. I feel so much better already, and ecstatic to get back to training and hit the next races hard, with a clear mind. It’s not easy racing week in week out, not getting the outcome you know you’re capable of. It’s even more difficult when you don’t know why you’re not winning. When I’ve had riders who win instead of me, and they tell me how I could’ve won so easily- it’s a great boost of confidence and makes me happy, but I have wondered why im not winning, and this week off is the answer. Over the last few weeks I’ve just built up more fatigue, and it’s better to take a few days off before you really need it. I’m in a great currently, with strong form, but time off was necessary.
I’m very happy to be home, and it’s so nice to see everyone, but I’m heading back to France Saturday evening, just in time for my next race on Sunday which is St Cast, sounding like a great opportunity.
A massive thanks to Fulcycle is needed, since as soon as I’ve arrived, they’ve made time for me in their busy schedule to fit me on my new bike, and ensure everything is perfect. It means a lot to everyone who makes time for me, and I am so grateful to have them for my bike needs.
I’ll hopefully be back to normal by next week, back to my routine ways. It’s been amazing in England, and I really look forward to seeing the positive impacts this week has!