-147.6km, 9x16.4km Laps
-AVG speed 43kmh
-9xCobbled accents of a cobbled climb
Today was the start of the tour and everyone has more pre race nerves than normal. When it comes to a tour people love to get the first day done to take the pressure away and see where the legs are and how the rest of there tour is likely to go.
I always get to the start line around 10minutes before the official start time so I'm right to the front of the race following the neutral car to take away any risk of crashing or silly mistakes during the neutral section of around 3km.
All started well for me and i was featured in the strong early moves with the lotto soudal team. These early breaks weren't to stay though and it came back together. The race then hit some narrow back roads and the whole momentum of the peleton eased up causing a massive touch of breaks and inevitably caused a lock of handle bars and crash. I didn't go down but ride straight in to the back of this crash getting stuck in the crash and had to stop to sort my brokem shoe as the dial i use to tighten them had snapped off.
In this chaos the front peleton reacted and really put the pressure on causing a winning break to happen, this featured 25riders and most of the lotto soudal team!
once i finally got back in it was a case of recovering and trying to get to the front, VL techincs and our team were chasing hard for many laps but the gap wasn't budging!
Towards the end of the race the peloton was splitting again and i found my self in a small split from the main group. We tried to make time but the days losses were already done. Contention for the overall is not looking great, I sit back at 5mins 10seconds down. Its still early days and i can find myself in a break gaining a couple of minutes so I'm not writing it off yet. We also have a 9km TT on Friday so all being well i could make a little time there as well!
DAY 2 Thursday 26th:
-AVG speed 44kmh
Day 2 and the legs were fairly average. It wasn’t the legs that would make the day hard though. Temperatures reached 40degrees and racing full gas all day would prove to be a tough task.
The break went after a few laps and got controlled by the yellow jersey team. No one from our team would feature in the break so we did assist to keeping the time down with the other teams.
The first 2 hours of the race were good and we featured well working as a team and riding strong at the front of the race but after the 2 hour mark the heat was getting to me and everyone else! I lost count of the bottles I got handed up, probably well over 10 and around 5 just for pouring over my head and back to try and stop me over heating which I really felt like I was doing. It was a true day of last man standing and many strong riders couldn’t finish.
With 2 laps to go I got to the front of the face to stay out of trouble and any silly crashes as the heat can make riders mentally tired and cause mistakes to happen that can end your race!
We were sprinting for top 5 as the break didn’t get pulled back in time, lotto soudal and VDM would pull as hard as they could but to no avail! Great ride by the breakaway and the course being technical in nature would play to there advantage as they could take corners much faster through the corners.
Overall I was glad to just cross the line in the front group crossing the line 49th.
No result but I congratulate every rider who finished.
Minutes after the finish of the race thunder storms broke loose and rain started to lash down! Good timing as that would of been utter chaos racing in conditions like that after such a hard day.
Now on to some rest before tommorrow TT in the evening and a chance to rehydrate!
Day 3 Friday 27th:
-Time Trial Day, 9km
To start the day we had a little lye in to recover a bit more from the previous day and to try and re hydrate slightly more!
Once we had a good breakfast the team went out for a spin of 1 hour to try and loosen the legs and stop them from locking up too much in the evening TT. My start time is 8:03pm so quite a long period of hanging around and the legs tend to go to sleep.
When we got to the HQ we done a lap of the course which was technical in nature and hilly!
Straight down the start ramp and you go straight up a 10percent climb.
During the warm up i could feel my legs were nothing special and to be honest flat but i didn't think about them and just believed it was nerves and would open up during the TT.
I started the effort and boom went for it sending it hard up the climb to the first marker on the road saying 7km to go. I tired to settle into a strong rhythm but couldn't get on top of the gear and legs just felt empty. I tried to recover slightly on the downhill section but it wasn't long enough before the final few kms to the finish line that also featured a nasty cobble section.
With 1km to go it was a matter of limiting losses and just holding a high speed.
My time was mid pack at a time of 11mins44seconds.
Stage 4 28th July:
-HARD DAY OUT INCOMING
Today was set to be a very tough day out and a good chance to feature in the days break.
The course was very nice featuring 7 laps of a long 23km course. It had 3 climbs in that could cause splits at any time and form the days move.
The first 1hour was hectic with moves constantly up the road and splits everywhere, it would all come back though everytime and you had to stay to the front incase any splits caught you out.
At the 1hour 30mark the break finally went over the hardest climb and stuck for the remainder of the day, I was around 10 riders too far back to react and missed out of the move.
After the break went it was a case of following anything else but nothing went. With 2 laps to go I went on the attack to try and gain some time but every move in the peleton was neutralised until the bunch finish.
I crossed the line top 50 with a hairy bunch sprint that nearly went to hospital! A dog was off the lead and nearly caused a mass bunch pile up at around 60kmh!
Day 5 29th July:
-A lot of crosswind action
Todays menu was 2large loops of a 40km course featuring 3 cat climbs, one of which was cobbled all the way, the others were sharp power climbs that would cause splits if you were on a rough day after 4 hard days of racing. In-between the climbs were really hard sections of crosswinds that would cause utter chaos for the day and make it 10x harder.
After the big loops it was 12 laps of a 6km course with 1 nasty climb in every lap. This was also going to make a decisive days break and put great pressure under the yellow jersey team 'EFC'.
The day started with the usual attacks and hard start as everyone wanted to leave it out on the road as it was the last day of the tour. Pretty much every move was bought back though by the chasing teams that were high up on GC.
After the first big lap the 'Van eyck' team were driving hard to around 4km to the foot of the first climb on the big lap. They really controlled the front and sent 2 strong riders up the road, i was watching the pack and no one seemed to react so I bridged to the pair and later 3 more joined making it a strong move that stayed away for the next 20km, we had a minute lead until lotto decided to try and bridge. They did just that and bought 2 lotto riders and 6 more guys to the party. This was going to be a good move and we stayed away until the cobbled climb where it was bought back by a depleted peleton.
we were bought back before a really hard crosswind section that blew the field to pieces and i wasn't in a good place and got caught out in a chasing group to the peleton. It changed so quickly! from being at the front leading the race to at the back in a chasing group with the field in pieces.
We could see the peleton but when we entered the local laps they got too far away and after 2 laps of the local laps we got pulled out due to the nature of the course and traffic situations.
It was disappointing not to finish that stage and get pulled 50km to go but i was happy to give it my all and gain some TV time for the team sponsors! Its nice to leave the tour with no regrets and knowing I gave my all.
I may not of been on my strongest of days over the tour but its another fantastic learning opportunity and for the U23 version in a few weeks time it will be a really good platform to do well in that race.
Now its time to reflect on the tour and see where i can improve again and rest up coming back stronger!
Thank you for coming!