La Fleche Wallonne
Three days following on from Amstel, and I was back in my race suit ready for another one day Classic in the Ardennes – La Fleche Wallonne. I have to say I think I recovered reasonably well, and was excited for the day ahead.
My task again was the watch the early moves, and make sure I was in anything if the group got to a certain size, or had some particular teams represented. It took about 40 minutes for the break to go, and I felt like I had done a reasonably good job of staying up the front and watching what was happening.
The break for the day had 6 riders and no major teams represented, so the focus then shifted towards Rigo Uran and Michael Woods to make sure they had the easiest day possible. If there was any wind, we needed to make sure that Rigo or Woods wouldn’t see any of it until the final climb – up the Mur de Huy.
The day actually was reasonably windy, although it was a block headwind for the majority of the time, and there weren’t too many turns until we got to the circuits on town, where we climbed the Mur de Huy a total of 3 times. Overall this meant the day was reasonably slow, taking 5 and a half hours to complete 200km’s, but it also meant things stayed reasonably relaxed in the peloton and we could enjoy the warm 5 degrees of sunshine that we had. (If it were raining, it would have probably been snowing, and if the wind was a little bit more crosswind, things could have very easily been in the gutter from the start.)
Once we hit the circuits, I was again near the front trying to be attentive in case a move went on the climbs. In addition to the Mur, there were a few other short and steep climbs, and a couple of times it looked like moves might have gone here. The second time over the Mur some guys were attacking over the top, and I was there to respond to these attacks. If a Movistar, BMC or Sky rider ends up in a move like this, loads of the pulling power from the peloton would disappear, as those teams would no longer ride on the front. This creates a dangerous scenario as the move has a greater likelihood to stay away and fight it out for the victory.
For the final time around the Mur, it was up to team Capitan Simon Clarke and our remaining troops to help position Rigo and Woods to the bottom. I had started to drift back in the peloton, and my day was done once we hit the second last climb of the day. My legs felt good, and I was happy with my work during the day. This was further highlighted out training recently where I did a short test and hit some PB power numbers over 5 & 6 minutes in duration! (447 watts for 6 minutes)
Since my last post, one of my supporters Alex had taken on board my advice regarding the banana and nutella croissant and tried it for himself, so I thought it’s worth mentioning another favourite item that came from the feedbag this day the lemon curd and speculoos (a spreadable cookie paste) pastry. This is only allowed during race days, as I have a skinfold test coming up shortly!
I also have to say, it was pretty sweet racing up the Mur de Huy. I’d watched the race from back home and in Europe last year, and people refer to local climbs in St Andrews to the Mur – such at Mittons Bridge Road. Now I can say I’ve raced on the Mur de Huy, and it puts Mittons Bridge to shame. At 1.2km long and an average gradient of 10 percent, the climb gets slightly steeper in sections towards the end. Additionally, the smell of hot dogs, deep fried food and beer was very tempting on the final time up the climb…
That’s all from me for now!
Next race starts tomorrow with the Tour of Romandie, including a prologue, some road stages, and an ITT to finish off. Fingers crossed the weather is favourable, but at this stage, things are looking grim!!
Thanks for reading,
Full Results: http://www.procyclingstats.com/race/_La_Fleche_Wallonne__2017
Strava file: https://www.strava.com/activities/949190106#kudos