28 Jul Tour du Limousin
A common theme of this French stage race was teamwork.
My Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team teammates for this race were: Lucy Coldwell – Scottish TT specialist, Anne Ewing – it we her Birthday on Sunday ALL day, Laura Murray – knew the Scottish jig, Ciara Horne – Welsh trackie, and Amy Bradley – Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi!
Now teamwork: first off neither of our Irish mechanic or newbie swanee didn’t have much experience driving, so some of us took turns driving our caravan car en route to and from France and to and from every stage. All the teams were set up to little camping cabins, each cabin was supposed to hold 5 people and contained 5 ‘beds’, random assortment of sheets, a microwave, 2 hot plates, dishes, silverware. Pretty much the bare minimum since it was a campsite. Each cabin had a designated job for meals – one did the meat, one did the salad, one did the carbs. Then we all came together outside to enjoy dinner together on our luxurious plastic patio furniture. After each meal we had to wash our dishes without a sink, so we filled a 2 gallon tank with a spout and a bucket with some soap. Laundry was done as a team as well, one collected, one started the washer, one hung items to dry, one distributed. After each stage we each lent a hand and helped clean and disinfect our bottles with milton. We all tried to be efficient since we were cooking our own food and everything, for the most part we all watched out for each other and tried to help in any way we could without over exerting ourselves for the race. The campsites made for strong character building as a team since we all were staying in the campsite and we all had to pitch in however way we could. It was a good way to get to know each other and of course daily activities became a comedy as we got more and more cracked after every stage. And for the week, wi-fi and cell reception was taken away from our lives. I thought it was a bit of a blessing in disguise – we were always so busy doing something anyways whether it be cooking or cleaning, there was really no time or importance to scroll through Twitter or Facebook. For once, we all put our iPhones away – a rare sight now a days.
As for the racing, I felt like Stage 1 was the hardest. Plenty of climbing throughout the 121km stage but the finishing circuits, even with a climb, kept the front group together. I was in each move that got clear over the top of the climb, but no one wanted to drive the break so the group always came back together. Clear that the finish was going to be an uphill gallop, I managed to finish 12th. Stage 2 was a 20km TT, I tried to do the best I could with clip on TT bars on my road bike. Luckily I was able to borrow Ciara’s disc, Zipp 808, and aero booties which helped propel me to 29th place and I just so happen to post the EXACT same time as Ciara as well! How crazy! Must have been the wheels and booties she let me borrow! Stage 3 was another 124km rolly stage. I spent myself too early in the race following moves and attacking and paid for it with lingering leg cramping towards the end of the stage. Anne helped me make sure I didn’t lose much GC time on the Young Rider competition and we finished 35 seconds behind the main group in the final. Last but not least, Stage 4 was the longest of the week at 127km and was the hottest of the week as well. We started the day getting pumped up with my warm up playlist and sharing some Kanye and Lil Wayne with all the teams as it blasted out of the van and I rapped to every single word. The day was all about survival and everyone knew that – every chance I got I took a swig, every time the ‘Eau Moto’ came by I snatched a bottle to drink and pour over myself, every good wheel I could follow I jumped on. A couple solo breaks went off the front, but never got close to 2min. By the last lap of the finishing circuit the front group caught the suicide attempt and there was a chance of a field sprint. The top of the climb was at 1.5km to go, so I knew position would be of utmost importance going into the finish. The US National Team had a little bit of a lead out going, but may have gone too early as the Russians took over. I was able to sprint to 8th at the end of a tour. In perspective it isn’t the result I usually shoot for, like when I won the first stage in 2011 and held on to the Best Young Rider Jersey, but I am happy with it after taking 8 months off the bike and for only training for the last 8 months as well. I’ll take it and continue to build back up.
Special thanks and congrats to our newbie Irish swanee, Pamela ____, who was fresh on the job and did amazing massage and feeding! And recently graduated! Good luck on what the future brings you! Our Irish mechanic, Eoin, came back for more action and had our bikes in tip top shape once again. And once again a thank you to Rene who always manages to find a solution to the problems we face! Another European stage race in the books.
Up next is Sparkassen Giro in Bochum, Germany and Lotto Cup Erpe-Mere in Belgium. Thanks for taking the time to read my word vomit and stay tuned on the tail end of my European campaign!