Monday, 27 June 2011
French National Road Race
It must have been the hottest day of the year so far -even in Boulogne... I used to take an annual trip to do a particular Randonee with the Southern Velo as a youngster and it's always fun to revisit places huh? Waters was taking snaps so we jumped in the car with, and boosted over, leaving Dulwich at 05:30 yesterday. Early starts like this are always alot easier to palette when it's already light -we even managed to get back in the (almost) light.
Even once we got there and sat drinking our curious 'grande espresso' the cloud was still coming halfway down the cathedral tower and these were pretty much the conditions that the riders were experiencing as they rolled away, embarking upon their 250km, 6hr ordeal.
Once into Bologne itself, the peloton took on 13, 13km Kermesse-style laps of what was THE single most brutal road course I've ever seen. Uber-steep hills, twisting descents and tricky town centre sectors combined with 32deg heat later in the afternoon to take its' toll on riders almost straight away.
I've never been to watch a stage of Le Tour (apart from Le Grand Depart) but this was quite unlike anything in the UK. I have been around many a premier calendar over here, but man those guys are pro! The level of kit and backup surrounding the riders was matched in every way by the level of support from the French locals.
I came away with a discarded bidon, handed to me by a soigneur, and a crispy sunburn. Funtimes.