Euro Beat w/ Spencer

This past weekend was planned as a selection for upcoming races. Therefore close to the entire Cat. 1 & 2 squad was at the start line on Saturday’s race in Dommartin. The teams were to be selected based roughly on the race for the Tour de Cote D’Or, Tour du Beaujolais and Tour de Pays de Savoie. I was hoping for a good performance to make the selection for the latter two. The team for the Tour du Beaujolais would be made up of 3 Cat. 1 riders and 3 Cat. 2 riders. This made it important for me to be one of the top Cat. 2 riders representing Creusot. The team for the Pays de Savoie would be harder to make as only the top 5 espoirs on Creusot would be able to race.

Dommartin is a small town in the South-East corner of the Saone et Loire. It is on the Bresse plain which despite having a reputation of being completely flat, still possesses hills which will be found for a race. On the drive to the course, the sky opened up and it rained quite heavily, but it let up as we neared Dommartin. After signing in, it was a scramble to find shelter as the storm moved in. The team changed in the dry warmth of various vehicles, which served us well as at one point it was raining exceptionally hard. As the start time neared, the rain slowed to a drizzle, and I went out to warm up. The race was a circuit race with 14 laps of a 9 km course. The terrain was a little hilly, but there was nothing serious.

As I came back to the van, we gathered for race instructions from Steve (our Director Sportif). We had the largest numbers of any team at the race and the field was rather small at around 65, so we were instructed simply to dominate the race. There were sprint points each time across the finish line which we were to take and it was expected that someone on the team win the race. Personal instructions to me were to be active and aggressive. With everyone knowing what to do, we lined up to race.
The race started and I immediately began to work my way to the front. It seemed easier than normal and I quickly arrived with many teammates around me. It was still raining and the roads felt a little sketchy. I decided to go off the front to test my legs and avoid any early-race mishaps on the wet roads. As I thought this, a few of my teammates went in a move and I lay just out of range to bridge without pulling the peloton. So I waited for someone else to jump and I would be the good teammate to hop on the wheel and I either prevent them from getting across, or better yet, let them tow me across. The gap was at a mere 10 seconds when sure enough, the rider I am following jumps. I am immediately on his wheel and he half-turns his head to see this. Seeing me, he puts on his brakes. Now, I don’t know if this slipped his mind at the time, but a rider accelerating right behind you probably won’t respond well if you slow down drastically. So, without time to react (or my brakes didn’t engage quickly due to the rain) I rode into his wheel at a speed and angle to launch me off my bike. I landed on my head/face and then rolled before having someone ride over my face. When I got up, the pack had passed and I was fairly delirious. I was dizzy and had a hard time standing up without falling over. My team saw this and helped me into the broom-wagon which took me to the fire station, the only first-aid equipped people around. They cleaned me up some, but did not know what else to do, so they waited for my team car to pick me up. After some time my dizziness went away, but it was replaced with a headache that progressed through the afternoon and evening. It was hard to watch my teammates race while I sat to the side. In the end, it was Cyril Lecler of Creusot who won in a breakaway of 20. We were well represented in the escape with 4 riders, the next best at the finish being Bartosz, my roommate, in 6th.

After the race I spent a few days taking it easy as the headache continued for a few more days. I was notified during the week that I would be racing the Tour du Beaujolais and was a replacement for the Pays de Savoie. I am recovered from the crash now and hope for a good-showing in the Beaujolais this weekend to bump me onto the team for Savoie.

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