Well, I hope everyone had fun riding around in circles at Mosport yesterday. I just got back from the pounding of a lifetime at Duren today. I will say this much first - we do not have wind in Canada. At least not in Ontario. And nor do we have hills, of which this circuit had two monsters. Nor do we have races anywhere close to as hard as this one was.
Woke up to driving rainand (guess what) more violent crosswinds. We rolled about 20km out of Duren, then did three circuits of what felt like an exceptionally tough round before piling headlong back down into town for a 5-lap criterium finish to make 160km. I don't want to give a total play-by-play, but there were basically four distinct sections of the circuit.
1) 80kph twisty descent, 180 degree turn at the bottom straight into a 1.5km climb topping out at 15-17%. Have to ride this in a 21 at the lowest, or you get dropped. Steep part of the climb ends, then slackens into some vicious crosswinds (still uphill though)
2) Rolly crosswind section, then the only flat section of the course, but it was 3/4 tailwind so deathline at 70kph (no shit). Actually saw a UCI motorcycle deck two bikes in front of me and I thought I was going to die.
3) Fast sweeping switchbacky downhill (no brakes, or again you get dropped), onto a one lane farm track (still downhill) and back out onto the main road to start climb number two. Leaving a one bike gap on the sketchy farm track to main road gutter transition spells almost instant death trying to get back on for the climb.
4) 3km climb, not uber-steep, but light headwinds make it tough. Coming out of the top of this one you're into some really massive crosswinds (worst on the circuit) and more rolly hills.
Repeat 3 times for fun.
The return leg to town was a little sketch, again at 70kph, sweeping through these little villages and everyone is getting all nervy for a sprint (even though we still have 5 finishing circuits to do and there are two groups away). More confusion on the finishing circuit today, but long story short I did a lot of work to keep things under control for Finn in the sprint and I think I ended up somewhere in the top 40 or so. That's a pretty killer result in this race. 200 starters, all pro, usually only a quarter of the guys even finish this race.
I lost count of how many times I had to chase across gaps and fight for position in the front echelon, but it was a lot. I did make the lead group for a little while on the first lap, but I was dangling and got popped on climb #2 where I hooked up with the chase group and we made the junction up top somewhere in the wind after a really tough chase. Ten guys got away on lap 2 and we never saw them again, then another 10 or so in a crosswind section at the start of the last lap. I didn't try to bridge in the wind because I was scared of hill #1 which was looming about a km up the road, so I rode the descent like a star and (unfortunately) almost hooked up with that group halfway up the other side before my legs shut down. Then it was peloton for me.
More info as it becomes available, but check cyclingnews.com for results over the next couple of days.
Oh yeah - 1000 deaths. I dunno how many times I thought I was totally done today, only to fight and come back, but it was the same story for everyone. Even British Champ Russell Downing looked like he was fighting for his life out there in our group...until he put in a killer attack on the finish circuits.