Race Reports from supported rider Emile Alexander
At the Assen Youth Tour in Holland I was frustrated to disappointingly crash twice and then suffer a mechanical in the main mid-week race. This ruled out any chance I had in the overall. I was therefore really looking forward to racing in France, where I had the following two separate races arranged in the middle of August.
2nd: Challenge Thomas Voeckler series, La Feneraie: 15 August
This was a hilly 80km race which consisted of 64km loop in the countryside and then 4 laps of a 4km circuit around a town. I’d won this race as a first year Cadet last year, so knew I would be a marked rider and would have to conserve my strength as long as possible. I sat in for the first 40km and did nothing at all for this hour or so and was just following the wheels. The bunch was mainly splitting up on the KOM sprints and lots of riders were breaking clear but nothing was sticking. At the 45km point I found myself on the left side of the road and the whole peloton slowed down so I pulled over and carried on my momentum. It wasn’t really a strong attack but I got away and bridged to a lad called Benjamin who had been away for 3km. The red jersey wearer and series leader, Theo Ratichaux, got across to me and another lad in a yellow kit followed him as well. We quickly got the gap up to 30 seconds and were working well. We dropped the guy in yellow over a steep hill. The gap then suddenly soared up to 1 minute as we didn’t dip below 45kmh for about 20 minutes and the bunch racing in France is mainly stop-start. Before a near crash descending taking a sharp corner at 60kmh and a few kom points later we rolled into the lapped section and had 2 and a half minutes on the bunch. This was drastically reduced over the next 4 laps as we all knew it was between the 3 of us and the bunch was nowhere. We started messing around and the bunch were down to 1.25 with 1 lap to go. I left space to race coming into 1km to go and attacked them both from far out. Theo pulled me back quickly and then Benjamin went to the front with around 500m to go and started sprinting I sat on the back comfortably in the narrow finishing straight. Theo passed him on the right and I followed him but I just couldn’t pass Theo in the end.
1st: Bernaudeau Challenge, St Hilaire de Rez: 12 August
This 50km race consisted of a flat 35 lap circuit. For the first few laps I sat in the bunch and there was a big crash just behind me on the second lap. I then attacked 10 metres before a corner and got away. Another lad called Fabian bridged to me and we worked well together building up a gap of over 1 minute up until 10 laps to go when I attacked him and he pulled me back. He said ‘’if you don’t drop me then I’ll let you win’’ I just said okay and carried on going through and thinking about the next place to attack him. It surprised me because he changed his train of thought and then said we could decide it in the sprint – much later, with just 5 laps to go. I said okay and didn’t roll through for the next 5 laps. He was getting annoyed and I asked him how badly he wanted to win. The bunch were at 30 seconds with 2 to go, but I still didn’t go through. He played games with me so I decided I’ll do the same even, though he was more French than me and supposedly had the right to win in his mind. I then attacked him with 200m to go and won the race by 10 seconds.