The eyes of the world's media may be focused on Le Tour de France and whether Geraint Thomas will win the battle for the yellow jersey, but at Scottish Cycling we are closely following a team of our programme athletes as they embark on a 10 day racing adventure in France.
Logan, Jamie, Matti, Oscar and Alex have been documenting their trip to give you a behind the scenes look at what racing as part of the Scottish Cycling team is like.
Day 1 Report – Logan Maclean
For the next 10 days, Me, Jamie, Matti, Oscar, Alex will be bringing our experiences on an epic racing journey with Scottish Cycling around France. On Sunday we will be taking on a 2 stage 1 day race in the north of France and the following week a UCI, 4 day stage race in the south near Lyon. The first race is called 'La cantonale' which is a French Junior National and the name of the UCI is 'Ain bugey valromey tour '.
The date is the 5th of July and we are gathered in the Emirates Car park approximately 1:30pm to pack the van. Three TT bikes, five race bikes, four spare bikes and the van is packed ready to go. 2:00pm we depart on our journey, Me, Jamie and Alan are in the van closely following Mark, Matti, Oscar and Alex in the car.
Thoughts from Me and Jamie - we are both really excited to get into some grippy racing, Jamie has just come back from a 2 week trip away in Italy on his mountain bike where he feels that he has good legs for the coming events . The rest of us where recently racing in Monmouthshire and also have good legs. We stopped at a road side diner for dinner where we all got fuelled for the remainder of the journey down to Folkstone Travelodge. After a long drive from Alan and Mark we arrived at the Travelodge in good health.
Day 2 Report – Alex Dent
It was an early start today to make our train to France, we got to the other side at almost 11am. We had one stop in our way to the race HQ. When we got out of the car it was about 26 degrees, a big change from home. Then we went out for a ride around tomorrow morning’s TT course and also the road race finishing circuit. The TT is quite undulating but from what we saw the road race will be flatter.
Now we are at our accommodation which is a quite scenic outdoor centre where we have had our dinner of chicken and cous-cous.
Early to bed before our time trials tomorrow morning. All looking forward to it!
Day 3 Report – Matti Dobbins
We kicked the racing off this morning early with a 10km TT, alarms set for 6:30 for riders and coaches and a 110km road race in the afternoon. The team got off to a great start with our fastest finisher from the TT being Oscar who claimed 4th and best young rider.
Good performances all round from the team with Logan picking up 19th, I was 23rd, Alex 30th and Jamie coming in 35th, so all riders in the mix at the top of a field of 130 riders.
After finishing the race Oscar, Alex and myself rode the short ride back to the accommodation to find we couldn’t get in so proceeded to fall asleep on the grass outside while we waited for the later start times to return. Logan and Jamie’s arrival came with torrential rain, thankfully all our riders didn’t have to race in the conditions. After getting showered and changed we headed off to the rider lunch kindly organised by the race.
Next up the piece de resistance of the day’s races, the 110km road race. We began the race and Oscar was immediately on the attack and got into the days main breakaway which would last the majority of the race staying out for 80km, all the team were working in the bunch early on to close down any chasing attack’s to allow Oscars break to get away.
Following Oscar’s great work all day in the break allowing the rest of the team to sit in hewas brought back. All riders were towards the front to try and get into more breaks in the closing stages of the race but no attacks were to get away. Logan did a massive amount of work to bring back a few riders who were sat just off the front.
After the riders were brought back he then kept me close to the front for the bunch sprint which I would take 11th on the line, somewhat disappointingly after all the hard work from the team. Sadly Jamie’s chain came off in one of the hardest parts of the race and would not be able to make it back to the bunch.
In the podium presentation it was Oscar who claimed in the white jersey for the best young rider and 4th overall. Most regrettably he fumbled in the crucial moments of getting the kiss from the podium girl, an event which was cause mass humiliation. The coaches and helpers from the team all did a great job getting us through the races and helping us all the way. All riders early to bed after a later dinner and a massage.
Day 4 Report – Jamie Johnston
Today on the rest day, after a relaxed morning and getting swiftly packed up, we made our way into the town to get our spot to watch the Le Tour pass through!
A mound of pastry’s and lots of coffee beforehand ensured we were set to catch all of the free items being thrown out by the caravan.
The 2 hour wait for the peloton flew by, sitting out in the sun and enjoying our time in France. The riders blasted past, seeing all our favourite riders and the cool team cars. I think the wait was worth it!
We got to see all of the amazing vehicles passing through, all part of the Tour convoy. Many where throwing key rings, buffs, magazines and food. The tour passed really quickly, the yellow jersey was right at the back of the pack taking in all the views. With help from the local police we where on our way. We picked up dinner at the local service station 160miles away from Lyon. Dinner was a good laugh as we all had a chuckle at Matti’s flabby calf’s. Back on the road again and Alan is getting angry with us as we have never heard of his favourite bands and musicians, little does he know we are only joking….
Day 5 Report – Oscar Onley
After a very short sleep we were up relatively early for a continental breakfast with hams, croissants and warm milk. We then had a quick turnover before heading out in the cars to recce and ride some of the sections of the 4-day stage race.
Our ride started with a technical 10km descent with 2 punctures from Jamie. Quick wheels changes and we were back on our way to the finishing town of Stage 2 where we went to the local SuperMache for a traditional jambon baguette for lunch.
After a little more driving we arrived at the start town of Stage 4 where we continued our ride with the plan of riding the first two big climbs of the stage however the dark clouds opened up and soaked us through completely however it did cool us down.
We then finished our “ride” in the van before returning back to the hotel where we met some of the other teams saying here for the race.
Following this was probably the best dinner we’ve had all week with Logan’s favourite hash browns, green beans and beef. After a couple of games of (pretty bad) pool we now have our feet up resting for the hard days to come.
Check in next week to find out how the team’s second race went on their epic tour de France.