It's the first of two rest days in between Paris Bourges and Paris Tours and I am happy it is only the first. My body is looking for a nice bit of recovery after racing for 6 of the past 8 days. I must admit though, I am feeling stronger and fitter, so things are looking up for the real goal: Lombardy.
I'll get to the race report in a bit, but first I have to tell you of the "french" experiences I have had thus far. First was arriving at the hotel last night, getting my room assignment (201), taking the elevator to floor "2", waiting for the elevator doors to open and seeing "301-3XX". Ahh, what? We took the elevator to floor 2, but evidently, that means the rooms 300. So, it was down to floor "1", where we would find the "200" rooms. Weird.
Oh, another nice experience was laying in my bed post training, waiting to head for lunch and having the house cleaning lady come in. At first she didn't realize I was here, but then when she looked up and saw me just chilling in my boxers she had quite an astonished look on her face and basically ran out of the room. I decided then it was time for lunch, so she could do her job.
While at lunch, Markel was given what I shall call the french delicacy. As he was finishing his main plate of food, he unveiled a live maggot, still wiggling about on his plate. No idea where it came from, but it was enough to force the end to eating. Yuck.
Ok, enough of my experiences and onto the race report. Race started fine, a few attacks, two guys escaped pretty quick and everyone was happy, except the french teams because the race is in France, they have no one in the break, and it is kind of a big deal for them. So, while I was patrolling the front of the race, there were random attacks coming from guys and causing a big stir in the field. All we wanted to do was ride nicely, and these guys are just screwing every thing up! Eventually it settled down for a beautiful day of riding through the hills and valleys of France, south of Paris (I think).
We rode through some wine country and it was beautiful. I have never seen something like it before and I was happy to take a few glances to try and enjoy the area. This was not the mentality of the field though because we're racing to win! The course was always up and down, sometimes much bigger and a bit harder than others, but usually just gentle rollers that put just enough strain on the body to make you think "ouch". There were three "mountain" points on the day and each of those was pretty difficult. They were pretty steep and afterwards, the road was maybe a bit open or still false flat and the tempo was high, so the lactic acid was working at that point.
After the third mountain points, we had Geoffroy in the lead group and we hoped it might stay away for the last 40km, but there was a hard chase that brought it back. Then I was on duty with Markel to watch for other moves and cover them. After covering a few, Geoffroy actually ended up in another small group that stayed away until about 6km to the finish. Then it was a group gallop to the line. We came away with nothing, but Geoffroy had a great ride. For me, I had a ups and downs in feelings, but overall I think my condition is pretty good, so things are hopefully coming together.
Story from the day was about different cultural greetings. I was riding along and all the sudden I was being petted on my right leg. I was so confused, then someone began to speak to me and apologize for spitting on me. I believe it was Bernard Eisel from HTC. Anyway, I said no problem and continued the joke saying that in some cultures that is the good greeting, but I am not so much that way so next time a handshake or head nod would do just fine. He agreed, so hopefully we have that straight now.
Picture 1: Elevator showing floor and room numbers... makes sense right?
Picture 2: Sunrise this morning.