After yesterday’s baptism of fire in 35 degress heat, the Scots boys were more at home today: the temperature had fallen to 15 degrees and it was pouring with rain.

– Reported by Paul Coats –

Stage 3, Marzy St. Saulge – Clamency, 153km

Again it was very hilly today, with the finish the third time up a 2 km climb of 13% gradient.

This was a much better day, with the weather having cooled down, in fact it was raining at the start.

“A day for the Scottish” one of the French riders commented.

Alastair, Michael and I all finished in the same group as the winner, bit Michael and I were caught out by timing split.Yep, some plonker let the wheel go and that cost us 38 sec. – the lead group was in single file up the finishing hill straight and lined-out it was around 50 secs from first to last man. What a bummer!

Stuart and Graham finished in a small group well inside the time limit.

To be honest, we were hanging on all day, just praying for a group of 20 to go up the road and allow us some time to take in the sights but there was no chance of that, nothing was getting away and the only sights to be seen were when you were pumped out the back.

The weather today is more what the lads are used to.
The weather today is more what the lads are used to.

With phasers “set to malkie” and the 11 sprockets fully engaged, a group of 12 – : including the Yellow Jersey Nicolas Bourdillat and the French Champion – : established a maximum lead of nearly two minutes. Within the peloton a steady pace was set to maintain the gap.

The first two category 3 climbs were taken by the bunch at tempo, all the boys took it comfortably.

Ali KAy climbed really well today, amongst the leaders on the classified hills.
Ali Kay climbed really well today, amongst the leaders on the classified hills.

Following the 100km mark the race started to get much choppier, with winding climbs over picturesque hills. Soon after this, the bunch: split for good, and the race entered the finishing circuit, which saw attacks coming thick and fast.

Coming into Clamency, a twist in the medieval streets brought the riders abruptly into a one in six climb – to be completed three times.

On the first acent of the finishing circuit climb Michael Nicholson tried the climb on the big ring but his legs told him otherwise, and noticing riders coming to a dead stop ahead he decided the wee ring was the better option.

The hammer was really down now; 39 x 21 up the climb, then across the line and straight into the “big scobie” and down near the 11 and 12 sprockets, time to bite the bars hard.

The penultimate climb saw wee Ali Kay in the thick of the action crossing the climb in 4th place.

Ali seemed to be gaining the repuation in the peloton as the man to watch, but mainly for fans of Leonardo Pielopi [are there any of those left? – Ed]. : Not the most flattering lookalike, in fact Ali has been asked by the Dutch team “Van hermet groupe” for pictures and autographs, and was asked to sign spectators’ caps and souvenirs. Not so: funny was being asked for pharmacutical advice, to which Ali said “Qui, I do the Piepoli climbing – mais sans CERA”.

The only real break of the day got out to two minutes then was realed in with 10km to go.
The only real break of the day got out to two minutes then was realed in with 10km to go.

1. PAIANI Jean-Lou (VELO CLUB LYON VAULX EN VELIN) 03H56’07″00
2. GUYOT Yann (SUPER SPORT 35) m.t.
3. TEVENOT Anthony (SPRINTER CLUB OLYMPIQUE DIJON) m.t.
4. DERANGERE Jérémie (SPRINTER CLUB OLYMPIQUE DIJON) m.t.
5. GREDY Sébastien (CLUB CYCLISTE ETUPES) m.t.
6. MARTINEZ Yannick (CREUSOT CYCLISME) m.t.
7. DAVID Nicolas (CREUSOT CYCLISME) m.t.
8. BOUTEILLE Thomas (CLUB CYCLISTE ETUPES) m.t.
9. FONSECA Armindo (CREUSOT CYCLISME) m.t.
10. TEILLET Gwenael (U. C. NANTES ATLANTIQUE) m.t.

32 KAY Alastairm.t.DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
56 NICHOLSON Michael@ 42 sec DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
61 COATS Paul@ 42 sec DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
79 MC GREGOR Stuart@ 18’05 DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
81 MC GARRITY Graham@ 18’05 DOOLEYS CYCLES RT

Tonight we’ll have to share the restaurant with the local couscous-eating association, should be interesting!