I will spare you a long text and will make a picture story instead ;) . There is a gallery for each day and you can read the descriptions by clicking on the photos(*).
Intro: Last week I participated in the Semaine Cantalienne, a 6-day criterium stage race in the French region Auvergne. (For those who don’t know what a criterium is – hi mum! – it just means doing a short lap of about 500m-3km multiple times.) The overall winner was decided via a point system based on the ranking of each day – 35 points for 1st place, 28 for 2nd, 23 for 3rd, etc.
I went there without great expectations; I though I would just roll with the peloton and hopefully learn something. Click on the photos to read how it turned out ;) .
Coffee ride in the peloton… It was really slow in the beginning, because nobody wanted to work in the front (obviously). There were a few attacks, but nothing serious…
At some point I quite spontaneously decided to chase an escape myself… I could get away from the peloton because nobody really thought I was dangerous. But I am hahahaha… I only had Margot Dutour at my wheel; I basically worked alone the last 15km till the end.
Margot outsprinted me at the finish. Man was I pissed off that day… Now after a week of learning I can only say: Congrats Margot & thank you for teaching me! ;)
So I started the second day lying in second position in the general classification and with a lot more self-confidence. Maybe I could escape again? Maybe on my own and win?
Indeed I was lucky and after an unsuccessful first attempt I could escape, still benefiting from my “underdog” status ;) . I was together with another rider (Fanny Le Huitouze)…
…and we caught a third one who had escaped before. We were working together quite well.
But I noticed that I had a bit more energy than the others…
So I decided to attack with 1.5 laps to go. I absolutely had to avoid a sprint finish!
Nobody to see!
Solo victory, so happy!!!
I enjoyed the last few moments in the nice GFNY Mt Ventoux jersey…
…before changing into the maillot rose, which seems to be size XL.
On the third day I had quite a safe lead in the general classification and “Nico le boss” told me to take it easy and not attack too early. The course at Marcolès was the nicest of the week, with a “longer” climb and it would have been tempting to try and attack right at the start.
Happy at the start line together with my Chalet friends and wearing the (far too big) leader’s “maillot rose”.
In the beginning it was all about saving energy…
Eventually we escaped quite easily in a small group of good climbers on the hilly course.
I tried to attack on the penultimate lap…
…but I couldn’t escape from Pauline Allin who overtook me just before the finish to win. Congrats!
Still I got honoured for being the overall leader of the week.
Suddenly there was this creepy guy in yellow standing next to me! (Just kidding about the “creepy” haha.)
The pros had done the criterium right after us and the ceremony was one of the highlights of the week!
On the fourth day I started to get quite tired of it all, not just physically but above all mentally. The leader’s jersey is not only too big on the body but also heavy on the mind! The course wasn’t too spectacular so I’ll keep it short:
We took it easy in the beginning. There was a little hill…
…and soon the big group…
…split. Pauline Allin attacked. I let her go due to a misunderstanding with my “boss”. I attacked myself with 1.5 laps to go and took second.
On Friday the course didn’t suit me at all: 100 x 550m. Margot Dutour, who is also a strong track rider, was part of our group so our “boss” (hi Nico! ;) ) decided I should help her to win, since I had a safe lead in the general classification.
My task was…
…to chase down…
…every single attack of the day. Exhausting! But I did my job!
Unfortunately Margot couldn’t win despite a strong attack on the final lap. She took second after Mélanie Guédon.
On the final day I really only wanted it all to be over! The constant nervousness was… unnerving! But it ended so well!!! :)
The course was quite cool – a short steep climb and a descent on wet roads.
Perfect to shake off the peloton right on the first lap!
It was Audrey Artaud who had taken the initiative to attack,…
…but I did most of the work to get a gap on the peloton.
We didn’t take too many risks on the descent! (Really! ;) )
Eventually we lapped the peloton. There had been another escape after Audrey and me so I pulled away from the peloton again to chase them,…
…I could shake off Audrey after the hill, caught the escape (hence I had lapped everybody on the course) and took home a safe solo victory!
Sooo happy! All the stress finally fell off!!! With Nico our boss ;) .
I don’t have pictures from the final ceremony yet. Only the unofficial celebration with my wonderful chalet friends!
Thank you so much…
…for the awesome company!
I had accumulated 10 trophies during the week…
“How the hell am I going to take it all home??” – my friends could help, thank you!!
(*) Thanks to Audrey Isserte, Patrick Van Heghe and Rose Marie Gaston Boutez for the photos!