Tour de Normandie 2014
Sunny and barely any wind, that is how the start looked like. With the climbing ability of Jimmy, Gertjan, Kevin and Stef, Team3M lined with the goal to go in an early move to get 'KOM' (King of the Mountains)-points. First attack of the day of 3 riders counted Gertjan in it, but this escape never got more than 20 sec. The second serious attack was the right-one. After 25 km 3 riders got in the break-away that lasted till km 164. Stef was in it and won all 3 mountain-sprints. This totals him on 15 points today and gives him the mountain-leaders jersey, sponsored by ... the company: STEF.
140 km in the race, the weather turned from sunny and dry to downpouring rain and the temperature dropped to 4° C.
For Gertjan, Kevin and Stef these conditions became a big hurdle, almost frozen they got in the second peloton.
In the meantime, in the front one English rider could escape and win the race, the bunch sprint for second place ended up in 10th for Gerry and 11th for Tim. In the last 2 km Jimmy got a flat but got the same time as the peloton. Kevin, Stef and Gertjan lost some more time as they crossed the line totally under-cooled.
Team3M was for sure noticed today, hopefully none of our riders will get sick overnight as tomorrow the race has a profile some of our riders like very much
Trop c’est trop...
In french there is a saying: Trop c’est trop. It means too much is too much!
Today in our second day of Tour of Normandie, this saying was very much applicable for Gerry and Jimmy. In a day where in the entire peloton there were about 60 (sixty) flat-tires and numerous little crashes Gerry and Jimmy had their share. But first the good news, Stef keeps the STEF-jersey, eeuuh the climbers jersey sponsored by STEF. Today again a group of 3 guys escaped but no Team3M riders in it. We tried though, but Team3M is becoming a target in this peloton. Stef scored one point on the very last climb, securing his jersey.
We knew today could end in a bunch sprint and our plan was to go for Gerry. Till we got 1 km from the local laps the plan was working (Stef kept the climbers jersey and we had protected Gerry all day). the 3 flyers were to be caught and a bunch sprint would come... Seconds later, the teamcar was called because Gerry crashed. Not real bad (our guys are tough) but he needed another left (DMT)shoe. Then Gerry had to get back in the bunch with a climb ahead of him not an easy task. Gerry got in the bunch again, next lap (luckily there were only two local laps of 30 km) pretty much at the same spot... got a flat (together with 5 other riders). Once again Gerry had to get up the climb by himself, got there and sprinted 6th.
The black sheep of the day was Jimmy. First, halfway the race he got in a crash and needed another bike. Then he needed a great effort to get back in the peloton. Good and well back in the bunch Jimmy did hit a pothole. His handlebars twisted and needed assistance again. Another big effort to get back in the bunch. 20 km from the finish Jimmy flatted. Once again Jimmy had to make a incredible effort to get back in the bunch. Jimmy did and helped the guys to get a good sprint finish for Gerry.
After reading all this you might ask what happened with Gertjan, Kevin and Tim. Well Gertjan and Tim flatted once and Kevin got 7 points for the climbers jersey (good move as this takes points away from the competition). The even better news is that all our riders are OK and spirit is high. Stef already two days in the STEF-jersey and Gerry already a 10th and 6th place in dangerous bunch sprints. That makes the team gain confidence. But trop c’est trop… let's hope we got all the bad luck on Wednesday, so we can move on and make progress. For Thursday we hope there is wind...
Stef enforces his pole-position
The plan for stage 3 had two parts:
First: enforce Stef's position and get Kevin on second place in the Mountain classification.
Second: try in the second half of the race to split the peloton on the third climb (14%).
The first part couldn't be executed beter as Stef attacked with two other riders from km ...1! Kevin, Jimmy, Tim, Gertjan and Gerry together with Team Rapha Condor blocked the road so that Stef and his two companions max got a gap of 4 min 50 sec. Stef won both Climbing sprints adding 2 x 5 points on his account. Team3M did a great job by helping Kevin to get the remaining point on both climbs, totaling him at 9 points. The reaction in the peloton started late, due to horrible weather with hail and a little snow..... this meant that Stef could go for the third and last mountain-sprint to add another 5 points. It also meant that the second part of our plan needed to change, to put all our faith and help on Gerry for a bunch sprint finish at the end of the 3 local laps.
Everything looked very good till the last sharp left-hand corner at 350 meters from the finish, Gerry was in the (later) winners wheel when he got crashed out. Gerry hit the pavement pretty hard. He got the same time as the bunch, but needed lots of ice and doctors assistance to get over the pain. Gerry is amongst the toughest riders in the peloton so we think (and hope) he will start again the Friday's stage.
Team3M for sure left his footprint in the first half of this Tour of Normandie as we have been for more than 270 km in total in the attack and Stef has his STEF jersey secure and good on the shoulders with 31 points, third in this competition is Kevin with 9 points. Gerry, Tim and Jimmy are still within a minute from the Yellow Jersey, so all is still possible.
The team will try to protect Gerry today so that he can recuperate for Saturday and Sunday, of course we have more plans but ... that we cannot tell right now ... as the competition also reads Team3M's Facebook page ;-) .
Maybe just a little hint, our big boy Tim VANSPEYBROECK hopes for a dry day with wind...
Team3M left the fifth day in Tour de Nomandie with mixed feelings.
Stef holds the Jersey, so we're happy. But the team could have secured the jersey and that didn't happen today, that gives a little bad taste in our mouth.
Rain and hail once again were part of the action today, where 3 guys left after about 10 km and gave the chance to one rider to take 4 times 5 points. The period of the race where Team3M should have attacked was crossed by real bad weather so the focus was more on staining upright then on countering the main attack. Gerry struggled the first hour but regained his faith and went full on from then on. 35 km from the finish Gerry and Jimmy where behind a real bad and big crash, it took both a huge effort to get back in the bunch. Gerry couldn't go with the final escape of 4 riders, but could still sprint 7th of the bunch getting him an 11th place Friday.
The Team3M riders are ready to go again but really hope to race at least one day in dry weather...
Meanwhile Team3M has climbed into the Top-10 of the team ranking – out of the 25 participating teams.
Keeping Stef in the STEF-jersey and a stage-win are still the goals.
The team continues to make progress,
Making Progress Possible
The fifth day of racing in tour de Normandie showed once again the progress our riders are making. Individually and as a Team. Day after day defending the STEF (climbers-) Jersey takes a lot of energy. For sure for Stef (Van Zummeren). But the other team-members have their part in this fight. Today Gerry was the guy to help Stef the most by taking the 5 points on the steep short climb in front of Stef's only leftover contender for the final ranking. This way Stef keeps 7 points ahead of the second rider. Right after the climb a speed-dump ended Jimmy's Tour of Normandie 2014. Unfortunated Jimmy crashed and had to abandon the race. 5 km further another crashed caused a big delay for Stef. Luckily, Stef's skills are tremendous and after a 15 km-chase he could catch on again. For the biggest part of the race a group of 7 riders were in a breakaway including Gertjan De Vos. Gertjan's move to go with the brake and even driving that brake made our other riders have an 'easy' afternoon. For the bunch sprint Team3M decided to take it easy and take no risk with the idea that everybody will need to be sharp and fit to help Stef bring the STEF-jersey home tomorrow.
By the way: the rain is gone, it seems like, it was kind of strange to race in dry nice weather after four days of rain, storm and hail.
Sunday, final day of Tour of Normandie
Team3M had two goals, secure the Climbing jersey for Stef (the STEF jersey) and then trying to create a footprint on the development of the last day.
The race started with a climb after 12 km, so our team needed to be prepared, a recon-ride before the race and firm warm-up made our riders ready. Most of all you could see Gertjan, Kevin, Gerry and Tim to do all what would help Stef keeping the jersey. The race went off under a sunny sky (after 4 days of pouring down and cold weather) and instantly Team3M neutralized the one and only rider that could still threaten Stef. A group of 18 riders took off but none of them could endanger Stef's position so Team3M let go. The same story for the second climb, that way halfway the race. Stef knew he was 'King of the Mountains of Tour of Normandie 2014’. From now on we could try to get our footprint on the race and try to bring the peloton back so that Gerry would get another chance.
The 18 stayed away, so no more sprinting for Gerry.
After the race, the crew helped Stef to clean up for the ceremonies. We knew he was final King of the Mountains.
What we didn't know is that he also got awarded for the overall most attacking rider and got a second winning jersey. The jury counted that Stef was in the attack for the entire Tour for more than 300 km.....
It proves Team3M want to make the race and supports riders to do that.
Congrats to Stef, Jimmy, Gerry, Gertjan, Tim and Kevin. Together Everyone Achieved More and made progress again. And… brought awards home.