Epic France – Day 5

FranceDay5

Swim: 1.8km
Bike: 184km / 2,660m
Run: 4.5k
Hours: 7h50

The day started with a tourist run through Briacon Old Town – very scenic and very up and down. No pace whatsoever and no complaints. A very relaxed breakfast before a 9am start. We probably could have got going 30 minutes earlier which would have given time to tack on to 200km but we didn’t. It means that both Epic Italy and France won’t manage a 200k ride as I don’t think any of the remaining days will give us a chance.

That day started with the only KOM points which as the top of Col De Galibier. It was non stop climbing from the start to the top some 36km away and a height gain of about 1,500m. With climbs that long my best chance is to make it honest and I had every intention of going early. Russ was on the front with me second wheel through the initial 10km or so. The climbing wasn’t that tough so there was no point pushing the pace there as everyone would just get an easy ride. Russ asked how I was feeling and I said good. I’m feeling stronger on the bike each day. He said that if I went he had no plan to follow so if he was second wheel he’d just let the gap form.

With about 20k to the top the main climbing started and I put in a surge of about 350 watts got a gap and settled at 300 watts for about 20 minutes. I hoped no one would be particularly willing to go hard enough that earlier to bridge other than Clas and Zach. I appeared to be right as they bridged across reasonably quickly. They didn’t go straight by which was great for me and eventually they went to the front and I sat on their wheels right up to the top of the Col De Lauteret. We’d got a pretty decent lead and I stuck with them for the first km or so of the ascent to the Galibier. This was 8km and a further 600m or so climbing. My aim was to ride this as easy as I could whilst maintaining 3rd place. I could see the main group well behind but soon I spotted Rob in Green. If he hadn’t had the green jersey I would probably have missed him. He certainly kept me working and never gave up finishing about a minute behind me. It’s securing my position in the King Of The Mountains.

Looking at my power afterwards by CP 1h10 is more or less best ever at just below 280 watts. Very pleased with how my fitness is returning. Each day on camp I am feeling ever strong on the bike. I hope this continues as John told me over dinner the climb on our final day up The Grand Colombier is monster ! This prompts me to say that John has put together an awesome camp so far. Even the bits I was skeptical about have proved fantastic fun – he knows how to put an epic camp together.

Following this there was a massive descent before 55km along a highway which was gently downhill but unfortunately into a headwind. Russ and Rob did a grand effort pulling us along at pace virtually all the way with a honourable solid pull from Douglas. Towards the end Christine did some turns on the front but was down on the aero bars (pet hate of mine .. if you’re providing shelter at the front then provide it !) not sure how much benefit Russ got being second wheel! With all these efforts the rest of us had a rapid transit to lunch.

Boy it was hot at lunch. Then we had a climb which looked short (per the profile above) but check the scale … it’s 750m and it was darn hot. I started cruising before realising I’m here primarily to get fit for Ironman Wales so put some proper effort in up the climb. At the top I downed 2 litres of fluid ! The descent was great with Scott hammering away followed by Douglas, Clas and me. The next climb again was a little more than expected before a great decent into Annecy. For some reason many of us decided to go bananas on this last section. I ended up coming in to town on my own. It was heaving and the cycle path was completely bonkers. As I’d descended I’d started to believe I could get to 200km but seeing the cycle path there was no way I could ride quick enough from the hotel so I decided against it. Was a little gutted when John told me at dinner that Christine got 200km done by turning before the cycle path to do the extra. Being a local she had a little advantage. I guess I should have asked her.

Day finished with a swim in the Lake. I was official measurer of the course for the aquathon tomorrow. I cruised round in 17 minutes with a pause at the middle buoy. I reckoned it must be about 1k but John flatter me by reckoning 1.1km which means he’s going to make the run 5k not 4k. Not to my advantage ;O(. Also unlikely to be any swim races. no chance for the 400IM – a Epic Classic.

No change in yellow today as everyone did minimums. Zach took the Galibier climb with Clas second leaving them equal on points. It’s the first time I’ve seen a proper battle for KOM and it’s good to watch. Tomorrow is the easy day but for me it’s a critical day for the yellow. If it goes well I should be solidly in the lead and able to really enjoy the final few days of camp. The plan is to do the minimums then run 24k which is not only good Ironman Wales traning but, assuming it takes more than two hours, is a 5 point run. After that I plan to do a 6k set. Ideally at the pool but possible in the lake if the pool is packed.

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