Last year Dani and Sam Humphrey took on this epic beast of a race, this year it was the turn of Stuart King and Paul Mansfield. This is Stuart's report on how it went ....
I’ve wanted to do this race for a few years now and the biggest thing holding me back was finding a partner to put up with me, and more to the point can I afford the entry fee. My mate Paul Mansfield didn’t hesitate. We entered last November and since then its been at the front of our minds and training plans. After many miles of trying to find hills in and around Dorset to train on, we put in the time and we were both quite happy pushing out 4hr plus rides on back to back days, but these aren’t mountains.
After trying to have a relaxed travel to the start we came very close to missing the channel tunnel booking as we had failed to notice the M20 was closed for the day. The rest of the travelling was fine and driving through France is alway easy going. The day before the race we signed on, got our massive kit bags, numbers, GPS tracking devices and then went out for a quick leg warmer.... 900m assent in 18miles, hello Alps!
Day one: Wet start, didn’t put us Brits off, it was just like a fine weather day in Wales.... 50miles and 7200ft of climbing, but the descent was worth the effort. Bikes held up well, new brake pads required.
Day two: Weather better. Great decent into St Moritz with amazing berns.... One puncture(Paul) plugged in 15 seconds... 38miles and 6400ft of up.
Day three: fast start through a woodland and along the side of a river...30-40 riders all in a line pushing 25mph was probably the most dangerous part of the day!! I took a stupid line over some rocks on a fast decent and punctured (flat) dinged the rim and had to put a tube in... this probably cost 5-8 minutes of time.... my head came off a little and I was kicking myself for not only running low pressure in my tyres but for taking an unnecessary line! 48mile and 6375ft
Day four: Head back on, short and punchy.... This was the shortest but hardest of the days with 6300ft of up in 29.5miles, Sun was out too. Paul was really starting to feel the climbs after 3 demanding days, and I have to start trying to motivate....my motivational speeches are not too good so I just do my best to keep him fed and watered and set a pace we could maintain. Lucky for me, Paul is an awesome/crazy/lucky/balls out descender and I have two options...I either ride with him on my wheel or let him go and catch him on the next climb.
Day five: Final stage and we need to gain about 5-10minutes to put ourselves in a top 20 position in our Masters Category. We get to the starting pen a bit late. After the start Paul puts in some good overtaking moves and I follow. On the first of the descents we take some risks and gain a few positions, but on the main climb of the day things get hard again and we lose what we gained... 40miles and 6900ft up
Final position was 79th out of 330 teams (30 of those being UCI teams) and 21st in our category (Masters).
Thanks to Paul for his commitment and for the laughs. Amazing scenery, some epics climbs and descents to match.
Thanks to the crew at Bournemouth Cycleworks and all our sponsors and Trek bikes, the Top Fuel was perfect up and down, didn’t miss a beat. Bontrager XR2 tyres spot on. Also thanks for all the support from Friends and Family, didn’t realise half of you would be interested in our progress on the live tracking!