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Tour Loire Pilat

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Greetings all,

I have just come back from riding the Tour Loire Pilat, a big stage race for up and coming riders to get spotted I rode it last year and had terrible luck. It was a bit of an up and down race for me this time, but unlike last year it was a good one overall.

The team prologue was on Friday night and just 3.1k long, 3 laps of a non-technical loop with a hill in it. TT bikes not necessary as the descent was so bumpy and the hill was steep enough to not require any aero benefits. I rode it as an individual effort with my team mates in tow. I couldn't use the disk I borrowed as it punctured just before the start. We came 8th I think and only lost 9 seconds in 4 minutes to the winners, not bad considering the quality of the competition (i.e. many DN1 teams, including Etupes, SCO Dijon and Chambery the AG2r feeder team). A good sign of my form I thought. We passed the time by inflating a burst innertube, for some reason it was hilarious, as can be seen in the photo.

Stage 1 on Saturday was only 120k but extremely hilly, the profile is shown at the bottom of the page. I felt great, I just hung in there comfortably with the front group until I suddenly blew 2k from the summit of the last climb at 20ish k to go. Before then I could hear the others breathing much faster than me on the climbs, which is always a reassuring sign. I couldn't really figure out why it happened, I haven't really done many long mountainous rides recently and my stomach was causing a bit of trouble (the food was terrible) but I was fine up until then. I just cruised and coasted in to the finish - and lost nearly 9 minutes. I was saving myself for the TT the next day. The traffic wasn't cut off very well for me and it was dangerous at times, which made me take it even easier.

This was probably the worst organised race I've been to in France (except for the FSGT ones, but the less said about them the better). We were staying in the boarding rooms of an enormous school, we had to climb 60 steps with our bags and bikes every day to get to our rooms. The dining area was a long walk, the food was absolutely awful and the showers were cold. I learnt a long time ago to bring my own cereal to races (I am fussy like that) but the other meals had to be endured with everyone else. Add to that the fact that we all came in one car and didn't have a soigneur or helper of any sort we were at a disadvantage to the other teams (who at the minimum brought a car, van and mechanic/soigneur).

Various food served to us from memory:

Lettuce a pile of whole leaves on its own on a plate as a starter.
Extra oily pasta (put on to boil days or possibly weeks in advance)
Oil (with a piece of chicken in it)
Greasy potatoes
Meat (still not sure what type) cooked in a way so that it resembled the sole of a shoe (in texture, taste and physical appearance)
Aeroplane style tray of pathetically small amounts of various pasta salad/rice and things. Served at a glacial pace to the entire peloton on the double stage day.

Stage 2 was made for me I think. It was a 15.5k hilly TT (a very long distance for France), the profile is attached but doesn't do justice to the difficulty of the finish, it was very steep with bits of narrow twisty descent. The disk had its tub replaced from the prologue and I borrowed a Token deep front wheel from my old club SC Nice. I passed my minute man within 3k and the next few over the course. I dropped my chain briefly at one point, my pacing wasn't perfect and I lost concentration a little at times but I nailed all the corners, kept the speed high and my position aero - it was a good effort.

Since I was a long way down on GC (27th I think) I had to wait a while to see if I'd won, which is a horrible feeling. I was the only rider under 23 minutes, but I won by only 5 seconds (all the time gaps were close, very different to an evening 10 result sheet: result). The quality of the field was high, 2nd place was the eventual GC winner, an Estonian called Maasing from Etupes who has a decent palmares already, I wish I was doing races like that when I was his age. Another rider of note was Julien Berard, who rode for AG2r for a while. I think there were some other good riders (several with former national champ bands), too but I've yet to look them up, all good scalps anyway. It has been really hard to find photos so far but someone made an atrocious video of the stage, I feature in it for about 5 seconds (on the podium, not riding). I was asked how many victories I had this year and I genuinely couldn't remember so looked extremely arrogant.

The final stage was in the afternoon and unfortunately in my overconfidence I resorted to my old tactical methods by attacking randomly and too often. I was one of the strongest but threw it away by doing a lot solo and a long 2-up with a Charvieu-Chavagneux rider. Etupes were controlling the race for Maasing and they only let a late attack stay away (with a handful of seconds). Had I not had my unexplained catastrophe late on stage one I think I would've had a shot at yellow. Never mind, the TT result is my best this year and just in time for finding new teams for 2010, and for the TT champs on Sunday.

Please look at the missing bike poster below, its very funny.

And if you haven't been sent the link already there's a funny article on the BBC news website about a real sport here.


Edit: Added some photos.
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Updated 20-10-2009 at 10:54 AM by David Mclean

Tags: clm, loire, pilat Add / Edit Tags
2009 - ASPTT Mulhouse


  1. James W's Avatar
    Well done Dave! great to see another well deserved win. Hope this weekend goes well - you've got the legs going great guns.
  2. David Mclean's Avatar
    Thanks James, I made the mistake of meeting the chaingang out in the rain yesterday and getting really cold. Hopefully I can recover in time for Sunday. I don't think I've ever had form like this before (or felt this 'fragile' healthwise - if thats the word) so it'll be good to see if I can do a decent ride.
  3. James W's Avatar
    Vid: "David-uh, MAC-lean!!"
    Was that you flying up the hill - looking V. strong there.
    I know that feeling (not very often, admittedly, and usually in October!) about being on good form and worrying all the time about being ill. It's taken me years and years to learn to ignore any niggly throat feelings (and palpable lumps!) and to relax and just go with it. Do a great ride this weekend, blank out the worries, and ride your heart out.
  4. David Mclean's Avatar
    Theres no footage of me actually riding as I was quite far down on GC.

    Thanks for the advice James, its times like this when I don't really like cycling that much if I'm honest, - its all far too serious and nerve-racking and not really enough fun. It might turn out to be worth it though.