Last week I headed off with six of my team mates for the annual Team TBB trip to the Alpe D’Huez triathlon. The race itself is one of the hardest races in the world but just to make things a bit tougher we ride there and back from our home base in Leysin. Day 1 – 165km, we leave Leysin, over the Col de Forclaz, into France, lunch in Chamonix and then onto Albertville for the night. Day 2 – 115km, we leave Albertville, over the Col du Glandon and then up the Alpe D’Huez itself to the race hotel. Day 3 – an easy swim in the morning and then the feet up for the rest of the day.
Day 4 – race day. The 2.2km swim for the race is held in the freezing cold waters of the Lac du Verney at the base of Alpe D’Huez. The swim for me didn’t really go to plan, amongst other things I got a punch in the face which left me pretty dazed and with a blood nose so I came out of the water a bit further back in the pack than expected but this wasn’t really a concern because the swim makes up such a short portion of the race in long course triathlon that it’s pretty insignificant really and after doing a few long course races now it’s defiantly true when they say long course triathlon is just a wet duathlon.
A few km’s into the bike and I was up in the front group again for the 115km course which has 3 major climbs, including the Alpe D’Huez which adds up to 3000m of vertical climbing in total for the ride. A few km’s into the first of the climbs it was down to Team TBB’s Aaron Farlow and Steve Bayliss, the Italian Alessandro Degasperi and myself. About 20 minutes into the first climb a French race referee came up next to the group and gave Alessandro, Steve and myself a drafting penalty. Strictly speaking we were within 7 metres of each other but generally there’s some lenience given on this rule when riding up the climbs. I’ve been racing and living on and off in France for over 10 years now and unfortunately dubious decisions made by the French are just part of life. It’s so common that there’s a term for it, it’s called ‘getting frenched’. Everyone who’s raced in France over the years has a story about when they got frenched.
The rest of the ride went to plan and I felt pretty good up the Alpe D’Huez and I lead into T2 with a 4 minute gap to the 2011 race winner, Spaniard Victor del Corral. The penalty given to me by the race referee earlier required me to stand in transition for 5 minutes and during this time I watched Victor come into T2 and run out in front of me. I tried my best to catch Victor on the run but he was just too strong.
Without the penalty the run would have been a nice cake walk to victory but that’s all academic. The main reason for racing Alpe D’Huez was to get in a really good hit out in the lead up to Kona and I did that so all good.
I’m back in Leysin now and back into hard work. I’ll have another 1 or 2 races in Europe in the lead up to Kona but just like Ale D’Huez they’ll be hard training days and nothing to serious.
All the best.
The press conference