Only three weeks I ago I ventured up to the Great White North to race with the team. After much success I wanted to write about it. Time slipped away and I didn’t. But I’m back up here again for another racing block and although we haven’t had any success yet, I’ll make good on my promise and write something about my time in Canada.
Quite honestly I could feel the momentum of the team building after our first Gila/Redlands race period. We left Redlands on a high after Paco and Steve went 1-2 on the final stage. That was pretty darn huge for the team and of course we were hungry for more. Grand Prix du Saguenay and Tour de Beauce were two races I had never done in my time racing across North America. Everyone I talked to said they were hard. Bloody hard. And they were right. But at the same time I loved every minute.
Saguenay is a city 200km north of Quebec and a very pretty one at that. The race was held over four days, with three punchy hard circuit races and one criterium. After taking a mini break post Redlands, the first stage was a real smack in the face. As a team we were right in the hunt from the gun, with representation in every major split throughout an aggressive opening day. Mid race I found myself in a small move which was away long enough for me to snag a few points in the KOM competition. We came back quickly and a new group formed, which ended up being the race winning move in which we had Chad, Kaler, Steve and Paco which was bloody good going. Back in the bunch I learned that I was tied on KOM points and the first guy over the line would take it home for the night. This meant a few strange looks from the peloton after an almighty two up sprint for only 34th place, but I managed to muster enough watts to take home the spotty top. This was small news however upon learning Steve took the stage win and we now had a yellow jersey to defend for three more stages. Incredible!
The following stages I was proud to ride the front for what was the team’s first yellow jersey of the season. I lost the Polka Dot of course, but in the process we rode strong enough to defend against some tough competition. Took make it even sweeter, Chad took the win in the criterium stage and by the end of the week Steve sewed up the Green jerseys alongside the yellow. Plus the icing on the cake was a Team GC win which to some means little, but for us it’s a nice recognition for every riders efforts over the week.
After only two days rest and a transfer down to St Georges, Tour de Beauce looked a beast on paper. Long stages, a decent amount of climbing mixed with very stiff competition. We were still riding the wave of confidence after Saguenay and were keen to get stuck in. The first stage was chaotic to say the least. I flatted less than 10km in and found myself on the back foot when all hell broke loose coming into the windy mid stage circuits. With some nasty gutter action a GC group split off and that was the bike race. It contained Kaler, Chad and Erik so we were content to have strong options. I flatted once more before the bunch rolled in some 20 odd minutes back.
Of course we had grand plans for winning the overall bike race, but also were looking to make an impact on a few particular stages, and Steve did that on the only double day of the tour, taking a close second place on the afternoon of day three. The morning stage of that particular day was a fast 16km time trial held in torrential rain and 10 degrees. This proved to be the start of my downfall, with the following day feeling a little off color to which I found out the next week was the start of a chest infection. Swallowed a bit too much of the Canadian road water it seemed.
The final stage of Beauce was brutal, and with breathing issues and no horsepower left in the legs it was a short one for me. I was bitterly disappointed to personally finish the race on a downward slide, but Paco flew the flag high and put the jersey on the podium again with at third place. And once again we were up on the podium for the Team GC overall which was another reason to smile at the end of the week.
Right now we are towards the end of a selective assault of BC Superweek. We’ve raced twice already as a team but haven’t quite managed to bring home a podium place as yet. Tonight we aim to defend the two day Tour de White Rock in which Kaler won last year. We have a crack team here so there is a lot of expectation that we can.