It’s right on my doorstep, hosted by my adopted club ROC Cyclo, I’m doing it! Five laps of a fast undulating 9.5km circuit. I’d like to get in an early break with a couple of others if I can. I plan to go early.
Just over half way around the first lap, not a single card played. There’s some fit looking riders, and a few riders who obviously know what they’re doing. An attack, a lone rider goes, nobody responds, he’s actually moving away. I jump after him. “Allez!”, I pass him and show that I’m keen to work, but he just lets me go. I’m away on my own. Not what I really had in mind. I ride hard, but not flat out. A quick glance under my arm, I have a good gap.
Back into Rochechouart to complete the first lap, I’m hugging the inside of the bends trying to stay out of sight. Up the long finish straight. Carla shouts that it’s a 20 second gap. Another quick glance, I can see the chase is on as the peleton is lined out. At the top of the circuit I’m almost caught, I ease up. I’m hoping there’ll be a counter attack, but there isn’t.
Laps 2 and 3 are uneventful. Lots of watching and waiting going on. Towards the end of lap three a big St Junien rider has a good dig. We chase. Now the counter attack. We’re breathing hard. Three of us go clear. We’re going damn fast, we have a good gap. This is more like it. Surely they won’t see us again. But actually they do. I dunno who’s doin the chasing, but we are caught. I’m miffed!
Back to watching and waiting, a few little digs, and a few more, we’re away again, same three. Surely this time we’ve cracked it. Fully commited, goin’ like the clappers, nope, we are caught again! Heading out on the last lap now. The sky over Bill’s mothers has gone black, it’s gonna rain. As the rain starts I’m sat near the back trying to work out what to do. I really don’t want to be sprinting in the wet. With about 1km to go I try one last time, as hard as I can. I get maybe 50 metres clear but I’m chased down.
I’m a bit annoyed now, so I’m gonna damn well sprint. Sitting in about 6th on a wheel that I think is a good one, 300m to go, wobblin a bit to make some space, 200m and we’re goin’ quicker. A St Junien rider opens up the sprint, I’m in fourth, I pass one, I’m up to third, halfway up second, flat out. The St Junien rider takes it by a couple of bike lengths. I’m in third just half a bike length down on second. Betcha can’t guess who the second placed rider is? Betcha can!
Thanks to everyone at the Rochechouart Olympic Club Cyclo for putting on a great race. With such good organisation it felt like we were racing on closed roads.