La Bourgogne cyclo was not the plan!
LBL Challenge was the plan being part of our build-up to the Tour du Mont Blanc in mid-July. However, a few hours before we were due to leave we decided a change of plan was in order. The choice was wet, cold and distance (LBL Challenge) or dry, sunny, warm and race (La Bourgogne) and so we headed for Viré near Macon and La Bourgogne. As it turned out it was the best decision we could have made.
La Bourgogne is part of the Grand Trophée Series by Sport Communication. Ahead of us was a full-on cyclosportive followed by a training ride through some mini-mountains west of Macon, France.
La Bourgogne Registration
We arrived for registration the day before race day and the weather was spectacular – warm, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. After an interview with the organisers Sport Communication, Hammer Sport’s arrival was announced over the tannoy system and we headed into registration. Our hotel was about 15 kms so we headed there to check-in and prep the bikes. A quick 30 kms spin to the start/finish ensure bikes were setup correctly and we knew the route to the start for the next morning.
La Bourgogne – race day!
We arrived at the start line about 20 minutes before the start and made our way towards the front. Last minute hydration and a gel were consumed. With just a few minutes to the off the atmosphere was incredible, tensions were rising, the combination of anticipation and adrenaline was kicking in. 500 riders began engaging cleats, the tannoy blared, excitement mounted. We were crammed in, more riders tried to get to the front of the group and ahead of us was a 154 kms race and nearly 3,000 m of climbing.
9:00 am – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -Go!
Amidst an explosion of sound and gear-changing we raced for the first turn and climb just 200 m away. The immediacy of zone 5/6 was a shock but if you can hang on for the first 40+ kms …. I settled into a group which gradually dwindled as riders fell behind or pressed on in faster groups. The group didn’t work well together and although I tried to get to groups I needed help and we were not always successful.
Racing through vineyards
Road junctions, towns and villages were well-marshalled, traffic stopped of course as we flew through at fast pace. Rolling terrain gave way to longer climbs, some up to 5 kms and the recognised climbs averaging 6% to 9%. The scenery was spectacular as we passed through steeply sloping vineyards and swooped down descents into small villages before heading skyward again amongst more vineyards. We didn’t have much time to savour the sights during the race – it was full-on from the start until we swooped down through Viré and the finish line.
On a race of this distance, nutrition and hydration are vitally important. Two feed stations were provided but we didn’t stop. Six gels and 2 x 600 ml bottles were enough to keep well supplied in the low 20+C temperatures.
La Bourgogne Results
|1||241||POLVERONI DAVID||04:18:44||M (18 – 29)|
|2||117||RUFFAUT PIERRE||04:18:44||M (18 – 29)|
|3||104||VUILLIER DAMIEN||04:21:55||M (30 – 39)|
6 hrs 15 mins with just under 3,000 m of climbing (despite what Strava says). Could have been quicker if the Frenchman I ‘collected’ had worked and done a turn in the last 100 kms! I was 24th in my Age Category where the Gold Standard was 7 hrs 38 mins. In fact my time was faster than the Gold Standard for 18-29! Good job in my book! 🙂
A cyclosportive in France is an amazing race experience. The first thing you notice is that the speed and standard of riding exceeds expectations and can be a shock if you haven’t experienced it before. Fast off the start line and immediately into zone 6/7 if you’re to be competitive. It’s not uncommon for the first couple of kilometres to be neutralised at 25 mph going up a climb. Motorcycle outriders and cars keep the bunch safe by keeping other vehicles off the road, it’s not a closed road but has the effect of a rolling road closure for those towards the head of the field. Even back in the bunch those first kilometres are protected and looked after.
If you’re looking for something special, a challenge and are willing to test yourself, a cyclosportive is an event like no other. La Bourgogne was well worth the trip and so much warmer than LBL Challenge!
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