Sunday, 22 September 2013

French Grand Prix 3 (teams)

Could not believe my time in Vitoria-Gastiez had come to an end, I had an awesome three months with the Aussie crew and everyone else who came to stay. I had perfect weather 90% of the time, fair bit of rain the first couple of weeks when I arrived but a great European summer with one day peaking around 43 Degrees Celsius on my 3hr ride. On the 26th of August I left Vitoria-Gastiez to travel to France to spend my last two weeks with Issy triathlon and compete in the last two French Grand Prix races, I was lucky enough to have two weeks accommodation free with Issy members Regis Marchand and Linda Guinoiseau. During my stay I was able to see the sights of Paris and get some training done around Issy Les-Moulineaux, only 15min away from  Paris.
The third race of the FGP was in Cognac, five hour drive South West of Issy so we had to travel the day before and stay overnight in Cognac. We arrived late afternoon, just enough time for ride course familiarisation. The course was very undulating and technical which is not suited for a team time trial but there was a couple of straight roads we were able to get moving. Back from ride, off to dinner then bed, although we could have a bit of a sleep in as race was not until 1430 but had to be up to transition check-in at 1100.

Woke up around 0900 for breakfast with the team and a little briefing. This race was very different to anything I have done before as it was a team time trial triathlon. Each team had five athletes and had to finish the course in the quickest time possible with at least the top three athletes finishing together. Race start for the first team was at 1430 and each team started one minute after the one before. Issy Triathlon was off six minutes after race start. Long run warm up and only a short swim, I was now lined up with the team ready to start, Issy had a bit of team tactics for the swim. Myself and the other strongest swimmer was to dive in last and the weaker before, the aim was to fill the gap between the weaker swimmers around half way so they could sit on feet,  surprisingly this worked quite well. All five of us came out of the water together and was onto the bike leg fast. Most of the team had the clip-on bars while the strongest cyclist had a TT bike and disc which was a huge benefit to the whole team as he was able to drive the pack along those flat straights, then myself and the other guys would swap turns up the hills. We worked awesome through the bike leg even though we lost one of our athletes early on, we posted the 2nd fastest ride time for the whole race. The guy on the TT bike was now spent and decided he would not run and leave it to me and the remaining two guys. The run course was very undulating with a bit of cross country, steps and road running. One of they guys had been having a bit of trouble with his breathing the past few weeks so I was there to push him along during the run... and I don't just mean encouragement, I was running beside him with my hand on his back pushing him along, up and down the hills and grabbing extra water for him, luckily I was feeling really good. Just after half way we were going strong, still the three of us together but then the other guy started to battle and I was now running between the both of the pushing them along to the finish line. Coming into the last couple of hundred meters, every second counted so I decided to 'slingshot' them for a sprint and finished just behind them. I was absolutely stuffed after that run, one of the hardest runs I have ever done but we did good and ended up finishing in 5th overall.

The team was very happy with that result and I was glad that I am getting back my strength in the run after my injury. Back to Issy Les-Moulineaux for five days before I will race my last French Grand Prix which will also be my last race of the European season.

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