There is nothing quite like Paris in July, and apparently everyone thinks so because everyone seems to be in Paris in July, including all my bike friends and bike family. And on this fateful day in Paris in July, the Tour de France and La Course came to take over the streets of downtown to add to the chaos and charm of it all. The weather is usually warmly accommodating, but last year we learned that that even this can have an unexpected turn. Fortunately for the fans and riders alike, it was truly a beautiful summer day in Paris this year. J’adore.
You can’t hide the enchantment that Paris contains deep within the cobbles of the Champs Elysees and elegantly displayed among the ornate buildings shimmering with gold. It is like you are visualizing poetry. These old structures you learn about in school and see in the movies seem to loom over you with great expectations of grandeur yet acceptance of the simplicity of being present.
It’s one thing to visit Paris in July, it is a whole other plate of brie and escargot to be able to race there! Speaking of which, have you ever tried to eat escargot? You need tools and it is a process. Maybe it is similar to bike racing, and the snail usually loses. This is one race that once you get there and are on the streets, maybe the champagne isn’t only dependent on your result. Maybe those that get to truly experience such a grand occasion can partake.
In the women’s race, we completed 13 laps on the iconic circuit, and the speed remained quite high for the duration of the race. Thankfully, this year it was not as slick on the diesel-soaked rocks as last year, but it still offered some traumatic crashes and drama galore.
Isn’t Paris supposed to be all about romance?
I guess without heartbreak you don’t have true love. Breaks were allowed a little bit of leash for a lap or two, but ultimately, the peloton was motivated to bring their prized sprinters to glory over the line. Wiggle High-5 played a game of tactics, patience, and solid execution to deliver Chloe Hosking to the line for the win. Although she appeared shocked, I think most of Chloe’s competitors and teammates knew the speed she had to complete this mighty result.
Also impressive to note was Cervelo Bigla with Lotta Lepisto and Joelle Numainville finishing 2nd and 4th with a diminished starting squad of four and suffering a mechanicals and crashes to prove that small and mighty do great things. And having Olympic and mutli World Champion Marianne Vos sprinting to a 3rd place shows she is in stellar position for the Olympics.
Rabo-Liv pushed the pace today, were active, and did not need to wait for the sprint, showing their depth and options as a team. Ellen Van Dijk launched a vicious attack with 2k to go, yet she was caught close to the line. Seeing Ellen take off is like watching a TGV train to Paris leaving the terminal. She had her ticket punched and no one could even consider hopping on board.
The rest of her Boels Dolmans team had unfortunate luck in some late crashes that took out other potential contenders such as Coryn Rivera. Unfortunately we heard the news that Barbara Guarischi of Canyon SRAM sustained a broken elbow and this is only one casualty of many that were left out there.
There was pain shared among all the riders between burning lungs, stinging legs, and ill-fated impacts. Some women you could see were more cautious of risks involved with the impending Olympics and others were more willing to capitalize on the opportunities. You could see how fast the peloton is as many of the riders are in peak form to compete for their country in Rio in fourteen short days. Just like the poetry of Paris, you can literally see the pressure lingering in the air.
Racing La Course has a lot to do with skill, power, and tactics, and of course a healthy dose of luck. There is a little bit of playing the lottery out on those cobblestones and those that are strong enough and lucky enough can find success. Cylance Pro Cycling suffered some misfortune, but I am proud of our young squad that is fearless and motivated to perform on the world’s biggest stage. It is like they realized their first love and feel no pain. These women constantly inspire me to continue achieving and work towards something greater.
My still healing broken ribs don’t mix well with 78k of cobbles and it was a rather painful experience in total. However, I am always proud to represent my team and sponsors, especially at this magnitude of event. It has a way of bringing us all together to share in this incredible experience and unite the world of bikes. Now, let’s think about adding some more days of racing for the women. It will only increase the value of the greatest bike spectacular on earth.
Some find love in Paris, and some race bikes. Some can celebrate with champagne, and others should just drink champagne anyway. What did I learn in Paris? Maybe that you should only drink champagne when you win and when you don’t. You are in Paris after all. May all your pain turn to champagne.
La Course by le Tour de France 2016 Top 5
1. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High5)
2. Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla)
3. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
4. Joëlle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla)
5. Roxane Fournier (PC Futuroscope)
The next Women’s WorldTour race is the Prudential Ride London Classique on July 30.