Monday, February 17, 2014
The New Season is on and the Racing has come to Town!
The Tour Méditerranéen is one of the first professional cycling races of the year in Europe. It is a multi-day stage race that takes place in the Provence region of France. The event literally comes right by our backyard. It is amazing to watch some of the best names in cycling laying it down on the same roads that we use for daily training.
This year the Tour Med took place with 5 stages over 4 days. That means that on day 3 the riders, in fact, rode two stages back to back. In the morning, the peleton competed in a 63k road stage from Lambesc to Saint Remy de Provence, and then in the afternoon there was an 18k time trial (TT) on beautiful mountainous roads starting and ending in Saint Remy. The Time Trial was a perfect focal point for our coverage of the race. Liam was booked with Mountain bike training and racing which conflicted with the week of the Tour, but Aidan (now 11) and Roan (now 9) were really looking forward to checking out the race and helping out with the blog.
Roan and I decided to make the hour drive up to Saint Remy de Provence and make a recon video of the TT course the day before the Tour Med started. Roan is now of the age that he can handle the riding, and he really gets into the adventure of it all. It was the first time to Saint Remy de Provence for both of us, so we took a little time after the ride to get to know the town. I think for Roan the highlights were riding the course, and also a visit to the local chocolate shop owned by the famous Chocolatier Joël Durand. They make a chocolate with the local almonds and the black olives of the area which is delicious.
On Saturday, I headed back up to Saint Remy, but this time with Aidan. I love going places with all three of my sons together, but it is also important to individually get in some one-on-one time. Saturday was the day of the Tour Med double stage. The riders had already raced 63k in the morning before taking on the afternoon TT. In an individual Time Trial, riders start about 1 minute apart and their time of the effort counts for the overall race classification. We arrived in Saint Remy a few hours before the 2 o'clock start. Aidan and I hit the TT course. The day was super windy and the descents were pretty technical, but Aidan handled it amazingly well. This year has marked an incredible improvement in Aidan's riding and stamina on the bike. He is riding and racing with both his club and school teams, and his progression is a pleasure to witness. After the ride, we returned to town to watch the professional riders warming up for the "race against the clock" over the same course we had just experienced.
The Trek Factory Racing Team Bus was our first stop when we got back into town. This was our chance to check out the the new team in action. While at the bus we spoke with Sports Director Luc Meersman. Luc is from Belgium and is a former professional cyclist. He now serves as second Sports Director for Trek Factory Racing. Luc is also a reconnaissance expert for the team, and as such, he will play a major role in this season's classics effort. He painstakingly notes every detail of the chaotic cobblestone courses (Harelbeke, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix). This information will then be used on race day to successfully navigate and, hopefully, win one or more of the great classic races this spring.
To our surprise and pleasure, Luc invited us to accompany him in the Team car as he followed Boy Van Poppel out on course. Wow, what an opportunity! He explained to us that Boy wouldn't be going "full gas" because he was needed by the team for the next day's final stage effort. If what we saw wasn't full gas, I can only imagine how insane a full effort would be. Boy flew around the mountainous technical course with a 40.5k average speed. He was comfortably rolling at 70k an hour on the flat sections. These guys are truly amazing athletes.
When we got back to town we were able to interview Boy after the ride and then go to the finish to see Trek riders Riccardo Zoidl and Bob Jungels come across the line in 2nd and 7th place respectively for the day - great results for both athletes and the Team. Aidan and I then got an opportunity to talk with Ricarrdo, Bob, and Matthew Busche after their rides and ask them about the upcoming Mont Faron final queen stage. You could say that we that we had a very good day in Saint Remy de Provence.
Stay tuned for our upcoming post from Mont Faron with photography and a video from both Aidan and Roan as they worked the cameras on the epic Mountaintop finish, finale of the 2014 Tour Méditerranéen.
Livestrong, Train Safe, and Live Well!
This is Bill, Aidan and Roan signing out.