Du Val De L'Indre
Danguillaume Cyclo is named in honour of the three generations of
extraordinary cycle racers of the Famille Danguillaume. The dynasty
started winning in the 1940's with Cammille, who won the 1949 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Sadly, he was to die only a year later in the French National Championships.
He, along with his five brothers, clocked up almost a 1000 professional
victories in the 40's and 50's.
The second generation spawned
Jean-Pierre who, amongst his 325 victories, took seven Tour de France
stages in his nine participations. Jean-Pierre, along with his Tour
of Belgium winning brother Jean-Louis, rode for the mighty Peugeot team
alongside Tom Simpson. Today the third generation continues the
winning theme amongst the French amateur ranks.
So with all this history and success to live up to, myself and Dianne find
ourselves on the start line of our respective events in a chilly, rain
threatening, ten degrees. Dianne is
taking part in the 80 km cyclo-touriste ride that started at 8:30.
Here she's leaving the start for the first corner of what was to
eventually prove an adventurous ride.
The Sportive was to kick off at 9:30 and within minutes of
the touriste riders leaving, the start grids began to fill. They
take their racing seriously in these parts. I went back to the bus
and prepared myself for the onslaught to come. I'd need more than a
shot of olbas oil up the nose and baby oil on the legs for this one.
This year I've had the
pre-season from hell. Having had a fantastic winter, I ended up
virus that slain half the island. Except, as with most men, mine was
worse. I'm sure I had bird flu. I rode my bike six times in
the whole of March, did Flanders on the first of April, and managed only
three more one-hour rides before this mid-April event. Being sure it was going to be a long
day and due to the chilly morning air, I went for a massive warm up. Which was good.
was dead last when I arrived at the start line at 9:25. Which was bad. Doh!
Hang on to your chapeaux
With three hundred and seventy-four riders ahead of me this was going to
be interesting. Especially as I'd just been informed that the first
seven kilometres of the ride are neutralised until we clear the first two villages.
With everyone pinned behind the commisaire's car I put my danger receptors
to "off" and decide to ease my way forward through the massive,
mostly braking, throng.
By the time
we leave the second village I'm in sixth place and have had the time of my
life. I could turn around right now and go back to the car
absolutely satisfied with my ride and the day. What a buzz; and there wasn't one shout
(from me or them) during the whole time. I'm just beginning to settle and catch my
breath when the commissaire floors his diesel Citroen and covers us all
with a thick haze of black smoke and carbon particulates. Game on.
And for once, it wasn't me. No sooner had the fog lifted when a rider flew past me
in the left gutter with his head down and bum up. He'd obviously
been to the Jacky Durand School of Cycling, specialising in the subject of
Suicidal Breaks. Around 153 k to go and he screams off around the
first bend where his mum was obviously watching from.
How we all
chased. You can see from my power profile on the right that we were
cruising along at a comfortable 250 watts until "le matey" kicked off.
I peaked out at 871 watts (the scale is smoothed to
show up to 820w) and pushed my heart rate (the blue
to 220 bpm. Still, at least I
was warm now.
This attacking scenario continued along the undulating countryside until the first split
came, not surprisingly at the first big hill at Reignac. The course
leaves Esvres, 5k south of Tours, and heads even further south towards
before turning north
and returning to Tours. At the first
hill we lose around thirty first cat riders as they fly off the front at
an obscene speed. For the rest of us a consolidation takes
place. Around fifty or
so have have made le petite selection. Miraculously I'm one of them. It's time to hang in
there and grab a wheel.
Photo opportunity anyone?
As we head in towards the Foret de Loches I can see a roundabout around
500 metres away. I want to be near the front. Foreigners
trouble me when it comes to descents and corners, so I move forward and
claim the front as we get to within a 100 metres. As we swing around
three sides and out, I see over my shoulder the group is enormous and is
still queuing to get into the junction. Time to kick it up a gear
and see if we can lose some. I can see straight down the fire-break
road, about a kilometre away is another roundabout and the leaders are
just leaving it.
I decide to cruise up to my kilometre threshold and pin it at 300 watts.
As the tail of our group of riders are still braking to enter the roundabout a small selection
takes place. We begin an unexpected false flat but as we
get to within 200 metres of the next massive roundabout, and with a smaller group,
I feel comfortable to move off the front. Then I spot
a camera flash.
Anyone who knows me knows I don't need a second
invite to be on the front for the camera. So I stay where I am and grovel up to the
roundabout, with my best race face on to get three pics in the bag for Top
Velo magazine . Job done, move over.
I have a cunning plan
We're now down to around thirty riders, some obviously want to be more
involved than others but this is a nice number when we still have a
hundred kilometres to go. A relatively organised, high-tempo,
through and off takes place until we get to descents and hills. On
descents everyone seems to brake and I find myself 20 metres off the
front. On hills they all sit up or go to the small ring and I find
myself 20 metres off the front.
find myself alone, one man always appears to be
the first across. He's about six foot twenty, riding a black 62 cm Mercx
and speaks English. There isn't
a single flat bit in this ride. You're either up or down and it's
like riding 25 laps of Hougue Bie. However he warns me of the hill
at the chateau; 25%, a wall he explains with his hand at 45 degrees!
together working well as a group for almost three hours. Then on a
long, long descent I found myself surrounded by braking Frenchmen.
Enough is enough. As we reached the dip at the foot of a 400 metre
or so climb I was so wound up that I decided to give it everything; part
one of my plan. The idea was to take a small group away from the
hangers on. But the group had other ideas.
graph on the right shows the "attack". Far left shows the blue speed
line as high because of the descent, the flat yellow line shows zero power
because I'm not pedalling. In "le mist rouge" I cranked out 754 watts
and broke away. Holding a pace of 24 mph on the flat I wait for
someone to come through and share the work. When it doesn't appear I
look under my arm for some comrades in arms; no one, nothing, not a saucisson, I'm
alone. I can either capitulate, lose face and sit up, or press on.
Keeping a stiff upper lip I press on and stay away for four miles.
caught at the worst possible place. Just as we enter the village of
Chaumussay at the foot of a monstrous 2 kilometre climb they begin to pass
me. When we get to the top I'm bog last and my tall Mercx-riding
friend comes alongside and shouts encouragement. I see what you
mean, I gasp, alluding to the chateau climb. This isn't it he
replies, It's near the end!
undulations, and the agony continue for another fifteen miles. Then
75 miles in, the big attacks begin. Riders are being shed all over
the beautiful French countryside. At 80 miles I blow my nuts off.
I know when I'm about to go because as my blood sugar falls I see the
display of my SRM begin to flicker. It used to happen in the winter
as I came to the end of my five hour rides with Dave Whitt. It was a
sign to take a gel and go home. Only now there's no one to ride home
There is no plan B
I die a thousand deaths and watch helplessly as the group, of
around 20, ride away from me. It's going to be a long ride back to Esvres. I throw an emergency gel down my throat and focus three feet
ahead of my front wheel while I wait for it to kick in. Every now
and again I look up to see someone ahead of me. I chase, if that's
the word, but they get no closer. All of a sudden it feels very,
very headwindy. It's not, it just feels like it.
The first 80
miles were ridden at an average of 20 mph, this on a very hilly parcours.
The last 20 miles were crawled at 16 mph. I lost twenty minutes to
my group in the last twenty miles! As I entered the town outskirts
of Esvres and the finish I come to a huge, Ghost Hill like climb.
With people on it. It's the chateau climb. If I don't get out
the saddle I'll stop. Time to ignore the pain and go.
I chase and
catch two riders on the hill, which lifts the spirits a bit. Then,
as I get to the top I recognise the road from my earlier warm up and know
it's about three kilometres to the line. In the distance I can see
another rabbit. From somewhere I get a kick of energy and chase the
Liquigas-kitted rider down. I catch him and pass him as we clear the
one kilometre to go banner. Not wanting to be caught out by a fast
finishing Frenchie, I push on so he can't catch my wheel and sprint across
the line (below) exhausted and bemused.
I'm glad I
had a good first part but miffed that I blew; I was pleased that I made it
round and annoyed that my illness took all my early season form. I
was delighted with my attack but annoyed I didn't have a plan B.
What can you do? Look for the positives, that's what.
place isn't too bad. Could have been a top ten if I'd have stayed
with the group as the top group finisher was 7th. But I didn't.
And if's and but's are for losers. On the day I just wasn't strong,
fit or good enough. Good job I only ride for pleasure then! I
missed my gold standard time and had to settle for a silver. To be
honest, I didn't think I was going to get that. So happy days.
Dianne had a good 50 mile ride, riding with a small group of like-minded
individuals who shared the effort. Until that is, in the last four
kilometres the road passed over a level crossing just outside Esvres.
One lady panicked as she arrived at speed and never even made the
crossing. She headed for the side of the road and piled in to the
verge and wire fence.
didn't look too bad until, because her arm was hurting, she pulled back
her left arm warmer. The skin on a large part of her arm was peeled
back like the lid of a tin of sardines. She went a very pale colour
and started to shiver and go in to shock. Dianne gave the lady her
jacket and stayed with her while others went for a marshal and an
ambulance. All ended well and within half an hour Dianne got her
jacket back and rode on to the finish with her small group.
more an excellent event, a great day out and a surprising out and out race
with teams, tactics and more hills than your average Amstel Gold race.
winner with his attack on the chateau climb. And yes it really is
that steep, yes it did sting the legs and yes again Dianne made it up