Whilst there does appear to be a fairly momentous stage race happening somewhere on the continent at the moment, i’m in no doubt that the most significant cycling event for British Cycling is happening in and around the small Welsh town of Cowbridge over the weekend.
The Etape De La Defonce is a 3 stage, 2 day race. It kicks off with a team time trial, then has a couple of hilly road stages over the two days. To say i’m nervous might be something of an understatement. My road race experience this year has been pretty poor. I had grandiose plans of an epic training block beforehand, taking in the Dursley Hardrider, Dursley 10 and the Colin Carfield Road Race, along with my normal mileage, leaving me ready to rip it up for the Strada Road Team. Unfortunately, all the races were cancelled and the ones that weren’t cancelled were knocked out of my calendar by work commitments. Meanwhile, the rest of the team were riding the Ras De Cymru, a 5 day monster of a race in the Welsh mountains, so no doubt will be ready to blow the race apart, and me with it, tomorrow. Which leaves me with option B, enjoy it and try to cling on. I’ll end up looking like Thomas Voeckler, but without the speed and fitness.
This was Voeckler’s second stage win in the 2012 Tour and the fifth of his career, and it was won with great panache. The 33-year-old Europcar team leader is not a stylish rider — his head rocks back and forth, his position on the bike lacks elegance, he pulls outlandish expressions as he rides, he mutters constantly to himself, to rivals, to spectators and to the scenery, and with his helmet too far back on his head and his jersey flapping open, as it was in high temperatures, he looks like a harassed commuter on a Brompton trying to get to a meeting in the City for which he is already 10 minutes late. But he never knows when he is beaten and he enjoys nothing more than giving his home crowd something to cheer, which they did with fervour as he came home en solitaire.
I’m sure i’ll be coming home en solitaire, but at the wrong end of the bunch.This description appeared in the Guardian this week as part of their front page approach to cycling. Amazing.