Ride report 1: from the Prologue to the Stage 9 Time Trial

Written by Kim (Mick’s sister-in-law) at Race HQ UK…

Friday 29 June: The Prologue

Those pioneering cyclists on the first Tours over a hundred years ago would have been used to riding after dark and our four One Day Ahead riders had a taste of what that was like when they cycled the 6.4 km prologue at 10.30pm on Friday night. Must have been a good feeling for Jamie, Chris, Adnan and Mick, though, having spent all day travelling from Surrey to Liège, including getting stuck in Le Tunnel, to finally get those bikes out on the Belgian cobbles…

Saturday 30 June: Stage 1 Liège – Seraing

Has the Team Sky bus ever broken down?! The One Day Ahead team are travelling with two motor homes and MH1 (motor home 1) has already got stuck in the campsite mud and blown its fuses into the bargain!

Some serious cycling to do today, a big loop out from Liège and taking in the Braque de Fraiture, the highest point in Belgium (a massive 606m!!). A good first stage as our intrepid team of four pedalled fairly happily the 198km through the Ardennes where 198 pros would soon follow in their wake. ..

Sunday 1 July: Stage 2 Visé – Tournai

One or two legs aching a bit this morning, so thank goodness for the presence of Lisa from Physioworld, who’s travelling with the team for the full three weeks.

A flatter course than yesterday, but the open terrain and the headwinds made it much harder work, and riding in an echelon is not really an option when you’ve got to share the road with other vehicles.  So 7 hours 40 minutes is an impressive time to complete the stage’s 207.5 km.

Monday 2 July: Stage 3 Orchies – Boulogne-sur-Mer

Some steep climbs and narrowing roads are likely to cause problems for the peloton, but are much easier to negotiate when there are only four of you… so Jamie and Chris decided to have a collision on a roundabout instead! No real harm done, thankfully, and the expert ministrations of Lisa soon got them back into shape.

Despite the crash, this was a much better day for the One Day Ahead team than Stage 2, largely due to the fact the wind dropped. They even managed to stay together going up those climbs!

Tuesday 3 July: Stage 4 Abbeville – Rouen

Hopes for today were that a tail wind might assist the team as they cycled south-west along the coast, enjoying some fabulous scenery. Even better, they were helped along for much of the day by some Dutch cyclists. Good companions – although they might have mentioned they knew exactly where the line was… which meant Mick had to be content with coming second in the sprint finish! Oh well, no green jersey for him.

If you believe in good omens, spotting a sign to the Jacques Anquetil Gymnasium when they reached Rouen would count as one.  A perfect place to park MH1 and MH2 for the night.

And another Rouen bonus – no overnight transfer. Shame they’ll have left the city long before the pros arrive. So far the only pro sighting has been a glimpse of Thomas Voeckler in Liège!

Wednesday 4 July: Stage 5 Rouen – Saint Quentin

A fairly fast stage today thanks to a flattish course and some tail winds – the support team in the motor homes were even a bit concerned about keeping up! A good moment in fact to mention the brilliant work the support team have been doing, busy all day long with life’s essentials: preparing food, fetching water and emptying the loo!

Highlight of Mick’s day: putting on a sprint and making a speed camera show 91 kph! Erm, think that was an error as it then corrected itself to 56 kph – not a speed to be sniffed at though.

Thursday 5 July: Stage 6 Epernay – Metz

Oh dear, in champagne territory… but too much work to do to be distracted by the fizz.  And it did seem like hard work today, the rough road surfaces making it heavy going at times. Mick’s calorie calculator (like the speed camera, also prone to inaccuracy) totalled 7,750 calories expended in cycling 207km.

But a significant milestone (kilometre stone?) passed somewhere along the route today – a third of the total miles already cycled.  Good to have something positive to prepare you for the following day’s Category 1 climb…

Friday 6 July: Stage 7 Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles

A dramatic finale to today’s stage on the category 1 climb of La Planche des Belles Filles, with some shockingly steep gradients to conquer. ‘Way harder than Alpe d’Huez’ was Mick’s description, which gives you some idea of what it was like if you’re familiar with that particular challenge. But they got to the top more or less together and in one piece – the summit where less than 24 hours later Bradley Wiggins would acquire his first yellow Tour de France jersey. Nice!

Saturday 7 July: Stage 8 Belfort – Porrentruy

Seven massive climbs today… While the One Day Ahead team were tackling what Cav described as one of the two stages this year ‘that have me nervous’, a drama was unfolding for Sara and Richard, the support team of MH2, desperately seeking some new front tyres for their motor home. Not an easy thing to come by in France on a Saturday afternoon: it took them all day to find a small independent garage which could help them out. Meanwhile, the 1DA cyclists struggled manfully to the end of the stage. Jamie’s tweet said it all: ‘ridiculous watching Brad Wiggins fly up the same climbs we crawled up…’  But crawling or flying, they’re on target for an amazing achievement.

Sunday 8 July: Stage 9 Arc et Senans – Besançon

A 41.5km time-trial stage today, so the support team decided to down tools and jump on their bikes too.  Richard has requested special mention as a guest rider. What Sara (Mick’s long-suffering wife) said about her experience is best not reported.

So the first rest day tomorrow. A chance to take stock and a deep breath for the next three mountain stages. Allez One Day Ahead!

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