The La Look Cyclo-sportive is held in Look’s home town. Nevers is about 100 miles south of Paris and is in the heart of French farming land. An industrial town and the place for Look’s factory and distribution centre. Look had invited us down to see something new (more of this later) and the invite to the launch included an entry to the event, so we were happy to oblidge. They even lent me a 565 bike to try out, and very nice it was too, a test report will follow.
Cyclo-sportives in France are big. With around 1000 competitors even for a relatively small one like this. The options for the La Look were a 80 km route (Senior Keo) or a 162km (Master – 585). The La Look takes in much of the surrounding region, woodland, farmland a couple of cotes and rolling roads. Closed to the riders and perfect for a ‘non-climber’ like me!
After the usual crush at the start, I managed to get through to the front group and I was surprised to see that this was no ‘sportive’ at all, it was more like a road race with groups attacking and forming off the front of a 300 strong peloton of riders, who were all to attempt the 162km event. I have to say I was a little concerned that this was going to be a little too fast and with riders like ex-world mountain bike champ Miguel Martinez in the group I thought that maybe this was going to be a tad too tough…
After about 40 kms a group jumped away and a level crossing stopped the peloton and ‘helped’ to allow them a 5 minute lead. This was real Tour de France stuff as the motorbike timing marshalls shouted time checks and the Mavic support car forced its way through the peloton and up to the ‘breakaway’. Blimey this is serious.
Many semi-pro and pro teams use these events for training and this means that there are plenty of riders happy to chase, there was a team from Skoda and the Look factory team also had half a dozen handy riders, all on 585 Look team bikes and sporting red jerseys. The Gendarmarie team (I kid you not) decided that the break had had enough time out there and they worked hard for an hour or so and the time gap tumbled, Look and Skoda entered into the effort and before too long we’d shelled out a few hundred more from the peloton and the group left was around 60 or so.
The La Look terrain was rolling rather than mountainous and because the pace was fast my strategy was to sit in the first 20 and try to stay in touch. So far so good. But after two hours I’d run out of water and there were no feed stations for miles. Most of the riders seemed to be getting drinks handed up, so I was now starting to worry about running of of fuel. 5 kms to the main climb and a drinks station. I was thinking that it would be like the Etape and that we’d all stop for a fill up, how wrong I was, as Martinez and co chucked in a massive attack on the hill and sailed straight past the lines of energy drink and piles of bananas. B******s.
Thankfully I did get a small bottle of evian passed to me, so decided that I had enough food anyway and should chase the attack. I was mad, these guy’s are hardly ‘sporting’. So in true Tour style there was a massive effort to get back on and I hi-jacked a couple of chasing groups and we all joined up again by the valley. A fellow chaser even shared a bottle of cold peppermint tea, which was nice.
But there was split upfront and the Gendarmes were driving it along. The following 40kms a big through and off was organised (these guys knew what they were doing) and the split was caught with 10kms to go. By this time I was shattered. Run out of water and ready for a coffee. The run-in to the finish would have made Thor Hushovd wince, so I followed the wheels until the final hill – 26th place and 3 minutes down on the ‘winner’. I had intended to take some pictures, but I didn’t get the chance… Great event, beautiful countryside (when I had the chance to look!) fantastic organisation and nice to ride a Spotive that doesn’t involve HC category mountain passes!
More pictures and the full results later…
Loads of cups, didn’t get one tho’
Loads of snazzy Look bikes too
Look launch the secret bike…
Glad to hear it
Trumpton band stand French style
Look get plenty of fans in Nevers
CYCLOSPORTIVES – “GRAND TROPHEE” – 2006
Dimanche 7 Mai
CEZANNE SAINTE VICTOIRE
Aix en provence – Saint Antonin 13
TROPHEE DE L EPERVIER
Cogolin / 83
VENTOUX BEAUMES DE VENISE
Beaumes de venise / 84
LES 3 BALLONS
Champagney / 70
LA MORZINE VALLEE D AULPS
Morzine / Montriond 74
Vaujany / 38
Bourg d’Oisans – Alpe d’huez / 38
Belleville – Beaujeu / 69
La Bourboule / 63
LA RONDE PICARDE
Abbeville – Eaucourt / 80
LA RICHARD VIRENQUE
Hyères -Hyères / 83
More details at La Look
Entries for the Grand Trophee at www.sportcommunication.com