L'Ardeche is one of those really interesting regions of France.
The Romans came here and many villages feature medieval as well as antiquity buildings and ruins. The region is littered with hills, gorges, magnificent rock formations and vineyards. As well as the beauty, it's a place that can get very windy. It is so remote that the easiest way to find it is to get a highway map of France and look South East : when you find a blank spot (devoid of any major roads) you know you have found Ardeche!!! This means loads of small meandering roads and spells out fabulous racing! Logistically, the remoteness of the region spells out long slow drives to get to the various venues, a problem compounded by the race meals being organised by the councils of the towns hosting starts or finishes, instead of being had at the camping ground serving as race accommodation. The field is unusually large for this time of the year, 28 teams including 11 National squads, one can tell the World Championships are just around the corner. All of this will result in a frantic crash spell regularly interrupted by the bunch detonating over the many climbs on offer. For us, this means really focusing our efforts. Since this is the last race of our Tour, everyone will come out swinging and try to make one last impression on European racing. Chloe McConville was not particularly impressed by the profiles of the various stages, but came to realise that the wind could be a big factor here. It's a case of "you get to them before they get to you" for her, where she will try to use the flatter windier bits to separate herself from the bunch before the bigger climbs get her in trouble. Chloe has made a very good impression this tour and has now got a few teams looking at her. Emily Roper has found her mojo in Europe and has now started to show her ability to read the best moves and get herself into them! This race will be rife with opportunities and the climbs will suit her. Tiffany Cromwell joins us from ORICA-AIS for the week and besides being our team captain, will most likely be our GC contender. She is using this race to build up for the Worlds. Oh! and she wants to earn enough money to buy herself this really nice dress she saw in Florence last week!!!!! Brooker ( Taryn Heather) is finally over her stomach ailment picked up in Sweden and should make good work of all the climbing. But she will be especially interested in the two short time trials. This could spell out a high GC result for her as well. Amy's game is simple - she has now won a handful of races on this Tour and this race will be no different - be attentive, assertive and unleash the sprint. She has been impressive so far and should receive a lot of attention from other squads. Finally, since every cloud has a silver lining, Grace's accident has provided Miranda Griffiths the chance to join us for the week. This will be a good test for her, as she can hope to do really well in the climbs but will have to navigate the biggest bunch she has ever encountered just to get there.
Voila! We are all looking forward to a big finish to our tour and hope you will join us everyday to follow our adventures