Epic France – Day 4

FranceDay4

Swim: 3km
Bike: 162km / 3,400m
Run: 10.3k
Hours: 8h10

Still not had a proper nights sleep. Last night I kept waking up when the sheet hit the side of my knee. Did mean I was awake before my alarm. 7:15 breakfast felt like a sleep in. On the road at 8am. Ride started with 30km gently uphill to Col De Lauteret. No KOM points as there was more to come. Then massive 35km 1,300m descent to the bottom of Alpe D’Huez. I reckon everyone as they descended that got more and more aware of the fact we were going to race up it. I for one was as I feel that the climbs later in the day would be my best hope to do well on KOM points and for this one we were going to have done a lot before the climb started.

We regrouped at the bottom of the Alpe D’Huez to race up it. Now I’ve seen this climb on the Tour De France coverage but it has not done it justice. The scenery round there was awesome but more impressive was the fact you could hardly make the road out up the Alp. it didn’t look possible. Later when coming down it the feeling of exposure was incredible.

The race started and I did my usual of working a little harder at the start to try and get a buffer. Scott stuck with Zach which was darn impressive and I wondered whether he was going to pull out a brilliant win (he didn’t ;o( ). It wasn’t long before John and then Russ passed me. Russ is like a metronome, he just cranks out a steady pace and wears you down. I then just decided that was my spot and did minimum effort to stop anyone else (namely Christine) passing me. My mind was on conserving energies for later. I felt even with max effort I’d probably not gain a spot but that energy could pay dividends later. I held Christine off to come in 7th.

The plan was for a race at the top of the Alpe. In classic Epic Camp style we ran a lap to recce it and it proved longer than expected (at just over 5km). Then we raced it. Well, about half the camp raced it. I did wonder about whether the ethos of Epic was being lost with people deciding not to take part but perhaps it is really a sign of just how tough today was. Really … quite insane.

So off we go on a 5k hilly run race at 1800m. Clas took it out. Russ ground me down and got ahead, I held off Christine for 6th. I was pretty pleased with that. This was a minor event which at this camp means half a point for each place. This is a step up from previous camps where minors have been 1/4 and majors have been 1/2. It certainly makes it more interesting with a heavier weight to racing hard. I’m sure Gordo would approve. On this camp there are some fast guys which makes it interesting. Zach may not realise but with his performances in these races he’s gaining points on me and with the KOM being more heavily pointed he is closer than he may realise. I am making up by doing a long run and a 6k swim which he’s declined. So it was quite important for me to race hard and it turned out better than hoped. Zach was 2nd and I was 6th so I dropped 2 points.

We had lunch at the top of the Alp and I felt terrible. I wondered whether it was the heat. I was wondering whether my plan of making the final climb (34km, 1300m ascent) honest from the start would be feasible. My thinking is that most people at that point just want an easy climb with perhaps a race in the final few KMs. That’s no good for me I need to make it a race the whole way. With luck some will just give up on it. However with how I was feeling I wasn’t sure I was up for it. As I descended the Alp and the heat picked up I was even less hopeful.

Ian lead us out along the initial flat section and the start of the climb. He’s support crew so hasn’t ridden everyday. Shortly in to the climb Russ went through saying “I don’t think someone with fresh legs should be on the front” meaning that he wanted to soften the pace. However he immediately got a gap so I went through and said to him if we worked together we could pull away as no one seemed to want to work. So with 34km and 1,300m of ascent to go we were pushing 300+ watts to try and break everyone. We had doubts briefly but kept pushing. My big aim here was to gain points on John and Rob in the KOM so that Zach doesn’t gain as many points on me. He is currently leading and the winner gets 16 points, then 2nd 14 and dropping by 1 from then on. So from my point of view him not winning is key. It makes me an ally of Clas when it comes to the KOM.

With this in mind we see Clas bridging alone to us. This couldn’t have worked out better. When he arrives I immediately discuss working together. It’s agreed instantly as it’s in his interests for us to finish ahead of Zach. So we work together agreed he can go across first. This agreement is irrelevant as we couldn’t do anything to stop him ! Russ and I have not really agreed anything as yet.

We keep pushing. I am clearly coming back in to fitness as I had a normalised power of 260 watts for 1h30 which is close to my best ever of 274. I felt strong and was enjoying it. With 6k to go Clas pulled away. Russ and I discussed the finish. I said I was going to let him go over first as he’d done the work initially to break us clear. He said I should go over first as the points were more important to me. With this in mind he dropped off a little. Throughout we we looking back unsure whether anyone was pursuing. Then with 5k to go I get a flat in my front tyre. I do some quick mental arithmetic and realise I have to just keep going to the top. Russ stays with me looking back and lets me go over first. Mere minutes behind comes Zach. It was close but it all worked and Clas is now in the Polka dot ! This is what Epic Camp is all about. Awesome.

Then 28km all downhill in to town and straight to the pool to find it’s half price because it’s closing in a hour. I get in and just hammer out 2.8km before finishing with 200 fly for a point.

I was so hungry at dinner. Great banter on the table and lots of lovely food. Two glasses of wine and now a beer whilst I type this. This camp I’m cranking for yellow and boozing. Life it good. Motivation is back. This is such a great environment.

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