I ’m fresh from my fourth place finish at Étoile de Bessèges, which made me happy because I’d been injured over the winter, so I wasn’t expecting to go well. They say it’s the small things that get you; I broke my fifth metatarsal at our December training camp by slipping on a flight of stairs on the rest day. The break meant three days off the bike, then some interminable sessions on the home trainer. To get the volume I needed without going mad, I rode in short chunks two or three times a day. I also went for lots of long walks too, which did me a lot of good. I was back on the bike outside after three weeks or so, and I’ll be careful on stairs in future.
I started feeling good again at the January training camp, and my form was starting to come back, but form at a training camp isn’t the same as form in a race. Happily, the Étoile went well – I was well looked after by my team when the race split up one day. I had Rudy Barbier and Samuel Dumoulin looking after me – Sam is very experienced and their help, along with good sensations in my legs, kept me up there.
In the end, it came down to the time trial. I was third there, which is another good sign. You could say that I kept myself in the race with good tactics and teamwork, and then the time trial showed that I was good physically. Disappointed not to finish on the podium? Not really – Lilian [Calmejane] and Tony [Gallopin] were going better than me, and I think fourth was my place. It was better than I’d expected. Then I got ill straight afterwards, but nothing serious.
Lilian, the Étoile winner, and I go back years – we raced together as espoirs, and he’s already doing good things as a pro, like that Vuelta stage 4 win last year. I know quite a lot of the other riders from my generation, but I’m particularly close to Axel Domont, because we came through the same cycling club, Vélo Sprint Romanais Péageois in Drôme, which has an illustrious alumni.
Next up is the Tour du Haut Var, which will have finished by the time you read this. Maybe I can improve on my fourth place in Bessèges.
Pierre surprises himself with his fourth place at Étoile de Bessèges