On the home straight now! 80 something miles and 3 category three climbs today! Not too hard we hoped, especially after the last few days. But boy were we in for a surprise!

– Reported by Paul Coats –

Tour Nivernais Morvan
What’s left of the bunch in full flight with 20km to go.

Stage 5, LA CHARITE-SUR-LOIRE – COSNE-COURS-SUR-LOIRE 136.6 km

We thought they’d take it, easy last day and all that, plus the GC was a done deal by now.

No way. 46km in the first hour, 45km in the second hour, jings – it’s gonna be a quick stage. Who needs the TGV?

The roads were twisty and narrow, like a stage of the Girvan, seriously single track, twisty with gravel, but at least it was dry and not too windy.

The first cat three climb was a bit of a shocker – only 3kms long but it was carnage, and Michael and Graham got their collars felt.

Michael knew from the off that he was in trouble. All week he had been close to the front but today he was near the back, and when the gaps opened there was no way back.

Both he and Graham climbed off at the feed.

No question they could have ridden round and finished, but we had a tight schedule for Paris and had to be off asap after the finish.

Tour Nivernais Morvan
Dooley’s in the mix, mid-way through the stage.

Personally I think it was the couscous! Last night we were joined for dinner by the local couscous appreciation society. I thought it was a wind-up but when I got a monster plate of couscous for dinner I wasn’t smiling so much. Only in France.

I don’t think anyone finished their scran, and with no MacDonalds in sight it was cereal and noodles for dinner. Again.

The stage finished with 4 laps of 3km circuit around Cosne-Cours-Sur-Loire. It was hammer time; 11,12, and 13 sprockets around the town.

The crowds were phenomenal and were given a great sprint finish to end the race.

Alastair and Paul finished with the winner, Stuart just a little bit behind.

Poor Stuart, not the most gifted when it comes to the vertical ascension, made it over the final categorised climb where we turned left onto another unclassified climb which caused major splits in the bunch.

Stuart and a few others just missed out on getting back on while there was a regrouping at the front.

Tour Nivernais Morvan
Laurent Bourgeois takes the last stage.

1 BOURGEOIS Laurent 03H08’55″00  CLUB CYCLISTE ETUPES
2 MARTINEZ Yannick m.t.  CREUSOT CYCLISME
3 BOUTEILLE Thomas m.t.  CLUB CYCLISTE ETUPES
4 NIEUWDORP Nick m.t.  VAN HERMET GROEP
5 TEILLET Gwenael m.t.  U. C. NANTES ATLANTIQUE
6 DERANGERE Jérémie m.t.  SPRINTER CLUB OLYMPIQUE DIJON

25 KAY Alastair m.t.  DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
53 COATS Paul m.t.  DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
72 MC GREGOR Stuart @ 8.01 DOOLEYS CYCLES RT

Final GC

1 BOURDILLAT Nicolas 14H02’17  CREUSOT CYCLISME
2 MARTINEZ Yannick 14H02’39 @ 22sec CREUSOT CYCLISME
3 TEVENOT Anthony 14H03’15 @ 57sec SPRINTER CLUB OLYMPIQUE DIJON
4 PAIANI Jean-Lou 14H03’24 @ 1.07 VELO CLUB LYON VAULX EN VELIN
5 DERANGERE Jérémie 14H03’26 @ 1.08SPRINTER CLUB OLYMPIQUE DIJON
6 LE HYARIC Steven 14H03’32 @ 01.15 VELO CLUB LYON VAULX EN VELIN

48 KAY Alastair 14H09’17 @ 6.59 DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
64 COATS Paul 14H31’27 @ 29.09 DOOLEYS CYCLES RT
73 MC GREGOR Stuart 15H32’44 @ 01.30.26DOOLEYS CYCLES RT

The final GC podium. Spot J-F Bernard? He's one of the organisers of this race.
The final GC podium. Spot J-F Bernard? He’s one of the organisers of this race.

Overall then, this was a superb race; a great atmosphere, wonderful service in the hotel (other than the couscous).

In a typical Scottish manner we showed our gratitude to the hotel owner by giving her a bouquet of flowers, a gesture with which no previous team had ever done.

Special thanks to Alistair Forbes, Cammy Fisher (if you need advice on fitting tubulars Cammy is the man) and Graeme Ward for supporting the riders.

Thanks also to Paul Rennie who helped out after Stage 2.

More info can be found at the official race site.