Grand Prix de Saint-Dié-des-Vosges

My latest antics in the gym meant that my quads have got too big for my (non-cycling) shorts, which resulted in a trip to the local decathlon to stock up on a new pair. I was feeling suitably strong for the pan-flat criterium in Saint-Dié that week.

I lined up mid-pack, meaning that I missed the break of five that went from the gun. Driven along by local legend Steve Chainel, they were not to be seen again.

I felt comfortable in the race, not bothering to waste energy chasing the leaders who were long-gone.

Fresh at the end, I was able to win the bunch kick by a massive margin, putting out an all-time best of 1510 watts – a benefit of having bigger thighs.

My DS was not happy the team had missed the break and refused to wait for the podium presentation where I would have received a bouquet and a tacky trophy for best 2nd category rider.

He might have been annoyed but personally I took home positives; I had good form from the training camp in the alps and had raced smart to boot.

Saint-Dié

* * *

Grand Prix Škoda Superb

I was not in the mood to race the next morning with just three hours sleep after Saint Die but the team was off to Luxembourg for a festival of racing sponsored by a local Škoda garage.

Each race was named after a different model of car. The elites were off in the Grand Prix Škoda Superb – a kermis-style 90km over nine laps.

I had strong legs considering the late night but after several failed breakaway attempts, I resigned myself to the bunch.

Groups flicked off in the last 20 minutes, but I was caught napping. Perhaps that shouldn’t have come as a surprise given how tired I was.

With the best part of 20 riders up the road, I didn’t even bother contesting the manic bunch kick.

* * *

Circuit des Vignes – 4th DN3 Coupe de France

The following weekend the team travelled down to Poitiers for the penultimate round of the Coupe de France.

Saint-Dié
Photo©Amelie Barbotin

Despite a thoroughly miserable morning, blue skies appeared for the early afternoon start.

With some of the best legs of the year, I was pleased not to write-off my race after just 300m; I narrowly avoided a crash by riding into a convenient field on the side of the road.

However, my top form was soon to be dismantled by the raging bunch.

Averaging 43kph we hit each of the three climbs on the circuit a bloc (full gas).

11 laps – 33 climbs – and a generous helping of crosswind later I was not in a good way… 

As the bunch sprint unfolded in front of me, I could only look on with nothing left in the tank. I set the biggest power numbers of the year despite trying to save energy throughout, and I’d barely finished.

Unbelievably only nine riders DNF’d, despite the pace and five crashes.

Cheers for now, James.