Monday, 5 July 2021

Tour De Covid - Part Three

Catherine and I managed another four stages of our epic Flamme Rouge Tour over the weekend. This saw us complete the original six courses, and start on the Peloton Expansion ones.

Here's the original six again:

We would be running La Haut Montagne and Ronde van Wevelgem as Stage Five and Stage Six respectively.

La Haute Montagne is an interesting challenge. It starts with a decent sprint, but there's a meaty hill in the middle and then a long slow ascent to the finish line. Here it is laid out and ready to play. Once again, I was Red and Catherine was Blue.

And here's the riders at the start.

I went for an aggressive start; I wanted to be up near the front of the pack to minimise the chance of being blocked on the climbs.

Catherine also made sure she was in the middle of the pack as well.

The first hill. We each had a rider crest it neatly in order to exploit the descent, whilst one each of our riders got caught in the slow ascent.

The pack closed up again after the descent and the helpful supply zone and we prepared to position ourselves for the final climb.

I pushed out in front for this, deciding to take the hit in terms of exhaustion. Catherine's riders followed me closely. My sprinteur lagged behind.

Almost at the finish ...

... and the final positions. I won and Catherine came second, with the Black Peloton team finishing very well indeed.

Stage Six was the final race of the first set of courses. After this one would be a rest day when there was an extra chance to ditch accumulated exhaustion cards.

This race was Ronde Van Wevelgem; a fast start, then a couple of medium ascents and descents  followed by a short dash to the finish. 

The first two-thirds of the race was a pure sprint, but we had to be aware to keep some useful cards in reserve for the climbs.

My sprinteur took the lead.

He easily dealt with the first ascent.

But the other riders were soon catching up.

My sprinteur lost ground as Green and White pushed ahead up the final ascent.

Catherine got one of her riders ahead of me as well.

The finish. I couldn't maintain my lead and finished in the bottom half of the pack. Catherine did well, though, and closed up her total score towards mine.

The exhaustion my sprinteur had accumulated was quickly lost after the rest-day. And so on to Stage Seven. This was the first of these courses:

Once again it involved a couple of climbs and descents, but with a larger run between them and a good sprint to the finish as well.

Away we went.

The first ascent and descent.

My riders found themselves heading towards the back in the sprint between the hills.

The pack split into two on the second hill.

And stayed that way.

An exciting sprint for the finish ensued.

Catherine and I had both managed our hands well, though, and had the power we needed. I got first place and she picked up second. Our other two riders finished in the lower half though. 

I was now edging ahead of her on points.

Stage Eight was another pair of hills - a big one in the middle of the race, and a smallish one that could be taken at a decent sprint, towards the end. 

Black started strongly in this one. The Peloton 'bot is normally quite powerful, but somehow had not shone in the races so far. In this one it did.

The main pack negotiated the first climb.

And then we were into the run for the finish. I had my deck carefully managed for this, and just had to hope I wasn't blocked at any stage.

And I wasn't! I made my run just before the ascent and moved quickly up through the pack as it spread out. 

My sprinteur took the hill easily, and moved into second place. My rouleur was close behind.

The dash for the finish line!

And a first place for my sprinteur! 

My rouleur just managed  to edge ahead of Black for a third place, making this my most successful race so far. Catherine had an average finish.

So we are two-thirds of the way through the Tour and I have a commanding lead. The scores are:

Red (Me) - 132 points
Blue (Catherine ) - 111 points
Green - 100 points
Black - 100 points
White - 95 points
Pink - 84 points

The Top Riders:

1 - Red Rouleur - 80 points
2 - White Rouleur - 72 points
3 - Green Rouleur - 67 points

We are leaving the hilly stages behind now; whilst there are some ascents in the next four stages, they are mostly about sprints on the flat. However the next three are dominated by section of cobbles, which make it easier to block other riders, and which prevent slipstreaming. So we will have fresh challenges to overcome. The fourth race offers one final climb, and then an epic sprint finish. So the next couple of sessions should be fast and exciting.

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