In the last 14 days I’ve done 8 stages in 3 different races. Two of those stages were individual time trials, one of which proved to be the coldest 11 minutes of my life, the other the best 11 minutes of my life. After braving a skinsuit in 3 degree weather at the Tour de Ardeche and finishing 6th, I was really looking forward to racing against the clock again during GP Fayence. The 3 stage tour included an 8km time trial and, with a wiser wardrobe decision or kinder weather, I had a chance to improve my result.

Race preparation happens wherever you can find parking...
Race preparation happens wherever you can find parking…
Rather chilly in Haut Var
Suffering in a chilly in Haut Var

After racing 95km in the morning, I started to prepare for the time trial that afternoon. Bundled up on the trainer in the cold French countryside with my English music blasting, my brain was focused on one thing: 11 minutes and 20 seconds. That was the time to beat and I was going to beat it. I rolled off the start ramp and immediately set out to chase my minute man. As soon as I hit the first climb, I could feel the gradient starting to bite but not as much as it was biting my minute man. I passed his idling follow car and him after 2.5km.

A bit of recovery time between stages
A bit of recovery time between stages

Having maxed myself on the climb, I relished the few seconds of downhill before the course turned onto a road the Cape Epic would have been proud to use. At 50km/hr, things get a bit hairy when your elbows are jumping out of the time trial bars but I managed to navigate the rough road and stay on pace. With 1km to go the road smoothed out and I wasn’t just on pace, I was on fire. With just 600m to go, I grab the brakes hard and fly around a 90 degree left hander, simultaneously shifting to the small ring in preparation for the final climb ahead. I start to climb but what happened to my legs?! Who the heck puts a 500m climb of 15% at the end of a TT? I’m not sure I can make it.

I was a little tall for the podium.
I was a little tall for the podium.

Out of the saddle, I power into the pedals, convincing myself sprinting early means it will be over faster. I attack the last 100m but the climb hits back, getting steeper and steeper. Finally, I get over the line and immediately pull brakes. I just want to get off my bike but I’m distracted by the announcer: “11m17 pour le 8,5km course. Nouveau meilleur temps.” My French is rusty but I knew what that meant: new best time! Oh man, I’m going to have to speak French on the podium.

The start of my trophy collection...
The start of my trophy collection…
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