Epic Camp France 2011 – Day 4 – Living up to Green

This is going to be brief (and unedited), though hopefully not truncated like yesterday’s entry was. Time is limited; sleep, food, massage and of course training take precedent. Blogging will suffer, but I’ll catch up properly when we hit the easy day. Before that I have one more hard ride to push my body through.

The most important fact was missing from yesterday’s abbreviated post – I was in Green. Today I rode out in a camp jersey for the first time. I aimed to live up to it and once John had pulled us out of town I went to the front and led the way up the Col de Lautaret. A gradual climb in comparison to recent mountains, but long; it took time to reach the top. There was a moment when I thought Douglas was going to attack me to take the Col, but he dropped off to be replaced by Ian who chased me and beat me at the top.

From there a long descent through stunning valleys to the bottom of the Alpe D’Huez. We rode out as a group for the first KOM of the day, I was suffering, but slowly pulled some places back to finish around my usual fifth position; it’s becoming a habit.

At the top of the Alpe a run race was arranged which only a few of the Campers joined in with. It was tough at that height and a far from flat profile. Unsurprisingly I came in fourth, maintaining my usual position! I was wasted from the heat and the work done so far today. I seriously doubted my ability to get myself home. The descent was easy at least, even if I did become paranoid about over heating rims!

The group moved along at a steady clip with Ian doing the work on the front. Fresh legs help and I moved to the front on the first climb aiming to drop the pace. My move threw me 20m off the front of the group and Steven joined me, he suggested nobody wanted to work and we could make a breakaway.

I’ve no idea where I found the energy, but we pushed the next 35km back to the top of the Col de Lautaret. Clas bridge over to us and we set about working to reach the top ahead of the bunch. The aim was simple, help Clas into Polka Dot on the King of the Mountain and further secure Steven’s lead in Yellow. I was tired, but hung in and did turns where I could.

Six kilometres from the top I was done, Clas pulled away while Steven and I proceeded at a steadier pace. As it would turn out Steven rode a puncture up the final 5km, not wanting to give away a high placing in this KOM. I sat behind and kept watch for anyone else attempting to bridge, if needs be I’d attack and take second to help take high points on the KOM for Steven.

Job done. We reached the top, Clas was in Polka dot and Steven was second. A short rest to find water and fix the puncture and then the long descent to our hotel. I took it easy having done my job for the day. I know my strengths and enjoyed playing domestique for a while. I can’t win Polka Dot or Yellow, but I can help my friends hold onto them. Strategy may need to be considered for tomorrow’s ascent of the Galibier.

Steven, Rob and I squeezed in the 3K swim to round out the day. A few others tried, but the pool was closing early so they’ll postponing completion for another day. There’s a little leeway in the points game when logistics get in the way.

The huge day has left me shattered. I’m not sure how much use I’ll be tomorrow when we swim, bike and run again. Certainly managing to dig deeper than ever before and really test myself. It’s fun being this strong on the bike, I hope I can push one more time before the recovery day. I hoovered down food at dinner and then it was a great massage from Anna; hopefully it’ll help keep the legs working hard.

I’m no longer in Green, the honour passed on to Rob. I’ll continue to push myself hard, points are great, but I’m here to train. Steven is in yellow, and Clas takes the Polka Dot by a single point. There’s a close battle for that jersey.