The Evreux Duathlon is organised by FFTRI (French Federation of Triathlon) and is one of five Division 1 races which make up the French duathlon Grand Prix. At the end of the 5 stages, the title of 'Champion of France in Duathlon' will be awarded to the winning men and women. Sundried ambassador Laura Smith talks us through this year's race.
Racing In The French Grand Prix
My debut race for the Montluçon Triathlon Team in Division 1 French Grand Prix for Duathlon was approaching and the nerves were starting to kick in. It would be my first elite level duathlon and full of world class athletes…YIKES! It was a new experience from start to finish but one which has been the highlight of my racing calendar.
I first had the task of getting myself, my bike, and rucksack (the size of me) to France and through Paris to Evreux… oh the joys. I won’t dwell on the journey but let’s just say it tested just about every part of my physical and emotional strength. One challenge down… onto the next…I don’t speak French!
I instantly gelled with the team, despite the linguistic barrier, it’s amazing how ‘banter’ can be so universal and independent of spoken language. Once I was kitted out (to the max) and given some goodies, courtesy of the team’s sponsors (I could get used to this professional athlete malarkey), we were off to recce the bike and run course. It was soon apparent that the race was going to be tough… the bike route was quick and technical with sharp corners and dead turns, and the run was off road looping through woodlands.
Triathlon can often be a lonely sport encompassing long rides, runs, and swims but the weekend with Montluçon Triathlon Team was anything but lonely. It was a welcome change to be a part of a team and prepare for the race as a unit.
Race day came around quickly and I was feeling tired from the journey but I had to get my head in the game and pull out a good result. I decided that I needed to go off hard on the first run and stick with the lead pack to put me in a good group on the bike. I stuck to my guns and ran hard clocking a 17:03 for a tricky off road 5km. Onto the bike… It was a bitter-sweet bike leg for me. My bike fitness is up there with the lead girls but my technical skills are still developing which meant I was getting dropped on each corner. After 10km of sprinting out of corners to stay in contention with the group (great crit practice I guess), I blew up and finished the remainder of the bike leg working with a Spanish athlete just behind the leading pack. I held onto 25th in the final run and crossed the line with a whole host of mixed emotions.
There is definitely more work to be done with regards to my bike skills and so I plan to introduce more technical practice and cycling races into my training programme in the off season (crit racing it is next season…OH NO!).
The 2017 season isn’t quite over for me and so it’s back to work ready for my next race!