September 11, 2012

La Belle Vie en Ardeche

This past week I got to explore the beautiful south-central region of France called Ardeche for the Tour cycliste Feminin de l'Ardeche. No better way to see the countryside than by racing through it! The race included a prologue and six stages, making it my longest stage race this year.
Our small but mighty team!

The trip got off to an eventful start when we managed to leave my road bike in Belgium (always double check your equipment!). Thankfully team USA came to the rescue and I borrowed my teammate Janel's Orbea for the week. Besides this slight setback, it was a very successful race for Team Canada. I took home the white jersey for best young rider and 9th in GC, and Joelle got a stage win, two 2nd places and the green combined jersey!

Highlights for the week include:

Staying at a 4-star campsite near les fameuse Gorges de l'Ardeche. There are towering limestone canyon walls that follow the river, a popular destination for tourists. Apparently 4-star campsites include trailers and a full water park, pretty cool, I would go back for a vacation! 

Making the break of 15 on stage 1 and gaining 12 minutes on GC.  Definitely the most important move in the week of racing for anyone hoping to contest the final gc.

Finishing with the lead group to help Joelle win the stage 3 Queen stage. I fought hard to survive the 6300 ft of climbing … mean to make the road point up right off the start line!

A major stage 6 comeback after missing an important split on stage 5 and losing time. I made the select climbing group of 11 and successfully defended the young rider jersey with a 10 minute lead.

Emma Pooley was seriously impressive all week, escaping to two solo stage wins and taking the overall. You know you’re in trouble when she goes on the attack.. does she feel pain?

Overall my first race in France was an excellent experience. It was by far the most climbing I have ever done in one race. Not going to lie, there were many times I looked at the race profiles and doubted my abilities, but then remembered everyone else was also tired. Best to tackle long races one day at a time.

Only thing the race could work on for next year is better rider safety. There was a lot of oncoming traffic to avoid on supposedly closed roads, just a small suggestion. 

If you're interested in more details of how the race played out, check out this great write up:

Here are a few photos from the week: 

what 4 star camping looks like!

water park!
Team Canada: Vero L., Joelle, myself and Lex credit: Denise Kelly

Les Gorges de l'Ardeche

Start line for Stage 6 photo credit: Denise Kelly

Merci Ardeche, c’etais difficile mais formidable, à bientôt!

photo credit: Lex Albrecht


  1. A wonderful recap of your adventure! Good job to you and your team.