This past weekend (May 25th-28th) I competed in Le tour du Pays de Vaud, a prestigious 4 day stage race in Switzerland, widely known for its relentless climbing and beautiful countryside. I didn’t get to soak in much of the countryside during the race but I definitely embraced the relentless climbing. With over 5,000 meters of climbing in 300 kilometers, the race offered a seriously challenging parcours. The first stage was a short and technical 3.5 km time trial. The first half was almost all uphill before a fast descent to the finish. I went hard up the hill and then raced cautiously for the remainder of the time trial to stay safe. I ended up 18 seconds off the winner, happy with how my legs were I was already looking forward to the next day. The first road stage followed on the next morning and included 120 kilometers with a lot of climbing. About 25 kilometers in there was a big crash that I narrowly avoided (I really don’t know how I didn’t crash here). After chasing back on due to being caught behind the crash the group hit the first KOM climb (King of the Mountain). The field really started to splinter as teams drilled the pace but I was able to make it over the climb with the front group of about 30 riders (there were 126 starters). A few more trickled over just behind the group and caught on during the descent, bringing the front group to now 50 riders. The pace stayed high for the rest of the day and other than one rider who soloed, I finished on the same time as the rest of the pack. The following day was packed with two stages that included lots of climbing and both had a mountain top finish on St. Cergue (about 10 kilometers in length at 6%). The morning stage also had a hard climb halfway through (about 8 kilometers in length) where the field again broke up. My legs were feeling good and I was able to comfortably make it over the climb at the front of the race. Later, when we hit the base of St. Cergue I focused on pacing myself and finding a rhythm that would allow me to get the best result possible. I felt really strong climbing at a steady pace but I would find myself in the box (cyclist lingo for “in pain”) when the field would surge forward to cover an attack. Within the last 800 meters there was one final attack that left me dangling off the back to the finish. I ended up 28th on the stage, just 26 seconds from the main group of about 25 riders. Later in the day the stage played out almost exactly the same, I struggled in the last 800 meters and found myself 16 seconds from the front runners. It was frustrating at first but I reminded myself that earlier this month at Course de la Paix (another international stage race that takes place in the Czech Republic) I found myself distanced by minutes from the same riders that only beat me by a few seconds here. With the two mountain top finishes done and dusted everyone thought the last stage would be a cake walk but that wasn’t the case. On a 5 kilometer climb the field really drilled the pace and dropped a lot of riders. This was followed by another couple tough climbs and an insanely fast descent (we averaged around 75-85 km/h for the 10 minute descent). I again finished within the field and ended up 27th overall and my teammate, Sean Quinn, was able to secure the white jersey (awarded to the best young rider) and 5th overall. I am definitely happy with where my fitness is and continue to see a gradual progression. I’ve also continued to narrow down things I need to improve on, such as being able to respond to fast attacks. This upcoming week we will stay in Aigle, Switzerland for a team training camp before heading to Germany for Trofeo, another UCI Nations Cup junior race.
Thank you for reading!