Kivilev post-mortem

One of ours!

What can I say? The weather was fantastic, the event was well supported and everyone enjoyed themselves. The local rag gave us a two page spread in the Sunday paper – unprecedented. Amael Moinard and Geoffroy Lequatre (wearing his G4 Dimension kit) both kindly rode the 105km course and gave one of our promising young riders a day to remember, for ever.  I should add that he was only the unofficial winner as, aged 15, he was too young to take part in the event.  The shorter course proved twice as popular as the longer one, with the winner completing it in 3h 00′ 22 “. That’s a wee bit quicker than I’d have managed to do it.

Those competing in the 175km cyclosportif also had some illustrious company: Alexandre Vinokourov, Andriy Grivko and Max Iglinsky. The winner, Gregoire Tarride, time-trialled his way to victory in 4h 58′ 47″, 11 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.  Remember that name, you’re going to be hearing it again. He’ll be riding as a neo-pro for VC La Pomme Marseillaise from next month. Another of our promising youngsters finished 3rd, Jeremy Couanon. That too is a name to remember.

While the amateur riders were happy to tuck into the delicious post race feast, including my cakes, the pros were more restrained, making a bee-line instead for the orange quarters. Though, I did see Grivko eating a piece of my pain d’epice.

We had lots of positive feedback from the participants, many of whom were taking part for the first time. They were particularly complimentary about the course security which for us is always the primordial issue. My Swiss friends, who had not ridden the course before, took it at a more leisurely pace than the winner, stopping to re-fuel at the feed zones en-route and generally enjoying the surrounding countryside.

The Swiss boys

The Kazakh Ambassador to France also graced us with his presence, much to the delight of the local dignitaries. Although I hadn’t met this gentleman before, we have been in regular correspondence since last year, so it was nice to put a face to a name. I should add I had no idea that he was in fact the Ambassador when we started corresponding.

One of the highlights of these events is the tombola. This year we surpassed ourselves with some prizes that I thought (for once) were actually worth winning, largely thanks to generous donations from club members, the Moinards and the Lequatres – thanks guys.

You might be wondering what happened to my beloved. He had a whale of a time playing at being Graham Watson on the back of the biggest motorbike I have ever seen. He’s taken some great shots which I will be featuring on the blog whenever he deigns to share them with me. To be fair, he left for Italy on Sunday evening and is due back this evening.

By the end of the day, at our wrap up evening meal, we all felt tired but content with a job well done. Typically, I was buzzing with ideas as how to improve next year’s event and I’m sure the others have some too. You cannot stand still and rest on your laurels, there’s always things that can be improved upon.

Postscript: You can find the photos from both courses on Picasa under “La Laurentine Andrei Kivilev 28 mai 2011”

Full of promise

We’ve profited from the fine weather these past few days to log plenty of kilometers on the bike. The weather forecast keeps indicating adverse weather but it’s generally been holding off during the day. The combination of rain and warm sunshine has ensured that the countryside looks particularly green and bountiful, long may it last. We needed all that additional mileage to counter the effects of yesterday’s blow out birthday luncheon: my beloved’s. I quaffed champagne and ate asparagus, morilles and  lobster. All my favourite foods, beautifully cooked and served, in the relaxing surroundings of one of our local restaurants, which has a fabulous view of the surrounding area. Feeling decidedly sated we returned home to watch the Presidential Tour of Turkey and the Tour of Romandie.

Both races have given some of the peloton’s newest pros a chance to shine, as well as providing opportunities for those who are more established.  For example, the Tour of Romandie’s 3.5km prologue had Taylor Phinney’s name all over it, particularly as he rides for the Swiss BMC team. No one had thought to tell Basque rider Jonathan Castroviejo who registered the ride of his life to take it, and the leader’s yellow jersey, by a nano second. In yesterday’s stage, Pavel Brutt (Katusha) one of the peloton’s perpetual breakaway artistes maintained his advantage, in the wet and windy conditions, to win the 172.6km stage into Leysin, by a healthy margin, to take possession of the yellow jersey. After what for him would have been a disappointing Classic’s campaign, today Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) prevailed, ahead of Cadel Evans (BMC) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana). I anticipate that the latter two will be fighting it out for GC come the end of the race.

Meanwhile, over in Turkey, some of the world’s best sprinters have been losing out to a number of opportunists. Andrea Guardini (Farnese-Vini-Neri-Sottoli) – remember him from the Tour of Qatar – beat Tyler Farrar (Garvelo), among others, on the Tour’s first stage into Instanbul. Stage 2’s sprint finish into Turgutreis was won by  non-sprinter (or so the others thought), Valentin Iglinsky (Astana), Max’s younger brother and clearly not a man to be underestimated, certainly not by Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD). On stage 3, Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF Inox) notched up his 3rd win of the season. Yesterday, Petacchi, feeling he had a point to prove, surprisingly prevailed on the Tour’s queen stage, at the end of a wet and hilly day. While today’s stage, 218km  into Fethiye, was won by Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Neri-Sottoli), his first ever podium. Thomas Peterson (Garvelo) now leads the pack ahead of Cameron Wurf (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1 – Sanofi Aventis).

A number of riders are using these races to hone their form ahead of the Giro d’Italia. Others, like Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Sungard) are using the time to reconnoitre the more difficult stages, of which there are plenty, ahead of the race’s start in Turin on 7 May. I will be there.

Round up of sporting action

It’s been a busy week end for me what with trying to keep track of football, cycling, rugby and the Winter Olympics from Vancouver.  Midweek, my beloved boys in claret and blue drew at home against Manchester United whom they will play in the League Cup final at the end of the month. Unfortunately, United were reduced to 10 men fairly early on in the game making them even more difficult to break down. Still AVFC have picked up 4 points out of a possible 6 in the Premiership which augurs well for the League Cup Final. Sadly, however, they drew against a very spirited Crystal Palace yesterday in the FA Cup meaning a mid-week replay before their date at Wembley – not ideal preparation. OGCN sadly lost away at Valenciennes in the dying minutes of the match and are now staking their claim on 17th place in the French League. I fear for the manager. I’m just waiting for that death knell “support from the Board” and it’ll all be over.

Having got into gold, Wouter Mol stayed there to win the GC in the Tour of Qatar. Last year’s winner, Tom Boonen, had to be content with two stage wins. The boys now move on to Oman where Jimmy Casper of Saur-Sojasun (another team looking to impress ASO) wrapped up the opening evening criterium, beating Edvald Boassen Hagen into second place. Meanwhile, the Tour of the Med, having had stage 4 neutralised thanks to the weather, finished yesterday on Mont Faron with a stage win for Aqua & Sapone and an overall win for Alejandro Valverde. Astana were 3rd and 5th with respectively Max Iglinsky and Alexandre Vinokourov.

The French are justifiably cockahoop after beating Ireland in Paris. They’re also currently leading the medal table in Vancouver having picked up two golds: one with Jason Lamy-Chappuis (current World Cup Leader) in the nordic combined and the other with Vincent Jay in the 10km biathlon sprint. The former was anticipated, but not the latter.

What you might ask of my own sporting endeavours. Well I have at last received my training plan. Indeed, today is Day 1 of the plan and it’ll be interesting to see how I progress over the next 6 months. The trainer guarantees at least a 5% improvement but, quite frankly, I’m hoping for a lot, lot more.