Monday, 9 July 2012

Paris French Grand Prix


Paris French Grand Prix

With the Eiffel Tower at your doorstep, the city of love awaited us for my second French Grand Prix of 2012. A short trip from home, I was excited to race Paris after the stories and videos I had watched from the race. Like always my French team, Tri Val de Gray looked after we so well, making pre race procedures easy. An early start to race day, the clear skies from my window looked promising. A short 5km ride to race start and a lap around the course gave me a brief idea of the corners and what was ahead of me. Before race start, the weather started to decrease and the rain started pouring from the sky. I spoke with Barbara about trying not to start behind a pole from the bridge as we would miss the current. Having not much choice in our start position, it became much to our benefit as we missed out being out in the cold from swimming out to the pontoon.

Like normal, the gun goes off before you can even think and the race has started. I put my head down and tried to get infront of the girls next to me. Our swim had spilt into two packs without my knowledge and I thought I was having a great swim- not getting bashed around, just clean water. Heading towards the first buoy and going around it, I got smashed! Girls pulling on my bathers, feet or anything they could hold on. In one sense, I felt like lying there and taking it. It felt like I had lost so much time, just fighting and not getting anywhere more than 1 metre extra or even one metre back. I came close around the second buoy and swam over on the outside. I could see abit of a gap ahead of me and I wanted to bridge up. It felt like I took over half the field on the way back in, finding plenty of clean water and exiting in 8th. Being cold, my feet were numb making it hard to run and get up the steep, slippery stairs. Cold hands did not help either making it hard to buckle up my helmet.

Coming out of T1, there were little stones and as it had been raining fairly heavy, they were extremely slippery. We had a good bunch of girls but I basically did not see any of them for most of the ride. There were 4 corners each lap; some being sharper than others, all turning onto slippery white lines. The corners were slow and became even slower when girls were falling off. I tried to keep near the front, trying to keep out of trouble. As the corners were slow, it meant more power had to be produced when coming out of them. When it’s wet, you have to become more cautious. Coming into T2, I wanted to be up the front, learning from my mistake in Banyoles losing an easy 10 to 15 seconds. Unfortunately, my glasses that were in my helmet got stuck in my hair and I was in T2 longer than what I wanted.

The run started with a short hill but became rather flat after that. I knew my cadence had to be high otherwise I feel like I start to become heavy and flat. This was the first time in awhile my run has felt, I suppose back to normal. I felt strong and moved my way through some of the girls ahead of me. Coming down the hill for the 2nd lap, it was the most daunting feeling of a mass pack of girls within 30 seconds coming straight up the hill. I kept positive as most of them had not gained anymore on me from the first lap. A reminded to keep my cadence high, “pop” and to bridge the gap infront of me, helps a lot more than telling me to run faster. I overtook a few more girls but within the last km, a few girls from the pack behind caught me. I sat with them for most of the last km till they all surged into transition and I could not go with them. I actually had no idea where we were finishing till I saw the finish line up the hill.

Finishing in 13th place, I can take many positives out of this race and take it as a solid hit out, ready for a weekend of Sprint distance next week in Tiszaujvaros.  I am not scared of the cold or rain anymore as everybody is in the same boat and its nothing to be afraid of.  It can be so much of a benefit to the girls that struggle in it or over analyse it. A big improvement to Tri Val de Gray, finishing 5th team overall for the day and congratulations to Barbara for her 2nd place J We were lucky enough to have afternoon and an extra day in Paris to explore the sights, get drenched by torrential rain, learn some more French and try not to get too lost.



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