The next day the team rolled out for our first Quebec race together. Two road races in St Raymond, up toward Quebec City (Jessica and Simon, very close to Pont Rouge! Did a light ride there on Friday).
First race was relatively short, several laps around a lake, with little rollers and a couple of punchy climbs. While the centre line was in effect, the race was rolling like there wasn't one. Made it quite easy to move in the peleton and not be boxed in when covering attacks. I was a bit concerned someone was going to get smoked by an oncoming car, but it wasn't much more dangerous than the cars parked on the right. Anyway, a break was a short way up the road, about half way through the race, when suddenly the race was brought to a halt. They wanted to tell us that we had to observe the yellow line! They stopped the break, and the peleton when they got there, and we stayed for 10-15 minutes so every last straggler caught back on. With 30km to go! It was pretty weird.
So of course when we started again, it was full gas to the end. We hadn't scoped out the finish, which was a little ways off the lake circuit, so when we made the turn off the circuit, I hoped it was close. Unfortunately, not close enough, and I exploded like a stick of dynamite in a beaver dam. 3 of us in the top 30, out of 84...not real threats, but hopefully if we can dial in the team leadout, we can get someone into the top 5 in similar circumstances in the future.
Photo courtesy Antoine Bécotte
Day two was a longer race, 130km. This was raced more like the road racing I'm used to: a little slower, with hard attacks. Only, the attacking was relentless. Garneau had 14! guys in the race, and mostly used their strength for evil, getting on the wheel of every single attack. Eventually Team H&R BLOCK started running out of bullets and missing more attacks. By half-way through the race, a break of 6 or 8 was off the front. Teammate Brad got on the front, and once the other three of us joined him, we set a solid pace, with the help of Rocky Mountain, started reeling them in.
Eventually we got pretty gassed and pulled off for a bit - in hindsight, this was our downfall...we had the gap down to 20 seconds, but by the time we got back to the front, the gap had blown out to nearly two minutes. I bridged up to a chase group just up the road, and rolled with them for a while, but was on the rivet most of the time and was popped on a hill when we were joined by fresh legs. Lesson for the future: don't be so close to my limit in a paceline...sit out a rotation and weather the verbal storm from my break-away-mates.
Once I was caught, Nick was able to get in a break that stuck, coming in in the third group. What was left of the peleton, with the rest of H&R, rolled in without any energy to contest the field sprint, but still top 30. Really good to have this valuable experience as a team - I'm sure it will be utilized very soon!
Did a little photo-snapping on the drive home, in this here hotbed of Catholocism.