Team CTC, in their final UCI tour of the 2013 road season, returned from competing in the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche with smiles, miles and sweat aplenty left on the roads of Southern France.
A five strong team including team members Tamina Oliver, Astrid Wingler and Hannah Payton were joined by Guest riders, Vittoria Bussi and UK National cyclo-cross Champion, Belgium based, Nikki Harris.
A six stage tour from the 3rd to the 7th of September in a region where flat roads are a rarity, saw a prologue time trial and 6 stages competitively raced by 27 teams; 11 National teams, 9 full time professional race teams, 7 semi-professional teams and two club teams, yes, the last two include Team CTC.
You would expect a field with multiple world champions competing to race hard, our riders were not disappointed; from the ‘b’ of bang when the gun sounded the off in the first stage, the racing began at a pace which was to be the hallmark of the racing on each day – relentless, fast, unforgiving.
Visiting Rouchegarde, Beauchastel, le Teil, Les Pouzan, Valen Pont D’arc, towns and retreats which were united by culture the l’Ardech river and an enthusiastic welcome to the caravan of support staff, the undulating terrain challenged the 186 starters, whittling them down day by day, the final finishing line seeing only 122 of the original starters. Fatigue, abandonment, pain and the odd crash or two saw those 64 riders succumb to the best tour of the women’s calendar.
The best of the race ? ...challenging terrain, beautiful countryside, elite riders from all over the world; 49 teams requested entry to this race – Team CTC were privilege to be accepted. Steve Bailey Team CTC Manager
The CTC riders faired brilliantly, Astrid put out by some questionable tactics at the back of the race on stage two- some director sportifs (team managers) condoning towing and drafting of their riders should look deeply at their psyche and moral reasoning! Astrid true to her beliefs decided that she would retire with dignity – not get towed by the wing mirror of an outriding motorbike!
Nikki put in a stunning performance, competitive in every stage, finishing with the lead groups each and every day, Nikki now has the opportunity to compete in the World Championships after this performance…. Tam, Vittoria and Hannah, confidence boosted by their success over full time riders, National team retirees, and riding themselves into contention as the tour progressed, proved that if given the opportunity to ride – thank you CTC – Britain can produce great road racing cyclists able to compete with the best in the world.
Full race results, images, video footage and the technical details of the tour can be found on this link;
Prologue: Monday 2nd of September: Vallon Pont d'Arc - Vallon Pont d'Arc (2,5 km)
Stage 1: Tuesday 3rd of September: Rochegude - Beauchastel (120,9 km)
Stage 2: Wednesday 4th of September: Vals-les-Bains - Vals-les-Bains (3,5 km) (ITT)
Stage 3: Wednesday 4th of September: Vals-les-Bains - Le Teil (77,4 km)
Stage 4: Thursday 5th of September: Le Pouzin - Cruas (110,6 km)
Stage 5: Friday 6th of September: Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut - Villeneuve-de-Berg (117,7 km)
Stage 6: Saturday 7th of September: Saint-Just-d'Ardèche - Saint-Marcel-d'Ardèche (74,9 km)