This past weekend Roc Laissagais hosted the first European round of the 2015 UCI Marathon World Cup Series. The event takes place in Laissac which is a small village about 30 minutes east of Rodez. Laissac is in the Aveyron region which is located in the north of the Pyrenees region of southern France and is named after the Aveyron River.
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I flew down to Montpellier on Friday dragging along mum for support, she wasn’t keen on the driving on the wrong side of the road malarkey. She had to learn quick though as there she’d be driving to 4 of the 5 feed zones to provide USN drinks and mechanical assistance should it be needed. In the end Mum did a great job keeping the car on the road and reaching the feeds. The race itself was an event I’d done twice before so I was familiar with the circuit which covered 88kms and 3000m of ascent. The organisers had added a new 20km loop at the end, the climbed started on a 25% gradient and didn’t really ease up until you started the descent with 10km to go. How kind of them!
I didn’t have a great start, or middle part of the race but gave myself a stern talking to after 54km.
‘You are not going to give up, you will at least finish with a fight.’
I rode the final 34km flat out, probably the best I’ve ridden in a long time, moving up from the 30s to around 20th. There were no updates out on course so it was frustrating to find out after crossing the line I’d just lost the sprint for 20th and the last qualification spot for World Champs. If I’d known I would have taken more risks on the final descent to drop the other rider and chase down some more riders. The Scott Spark could have handled it, that bike was on rails once I’d told myself off and started having fun. I kept the supporters happy on one descent hitting all the jumps whilst all the other riders minced around them!
21st is still a solid result, next opportunity to qualify for World Champs is in 2 weeks in Italy at the next UCI Marathon World Cup.
The race was won by Portuguese rider Tiago Ferreira racing for Team Protek by Marconi Project. Samuele Porro was 2nd, Robert Mennen 3rd. Most impressive ride of the day goes to Frans Claes, riding for his own team and with just the support of his parents he finished on the podium in 4th place. Former World Champion Ilias Periklis was 5th.
Sally Bigham of Team Topeak Ergon will be happy with her first visit to the event, taking the win ahead of Helene Marcouyre and Marlies Beckers.
Next year the Roc Laissagais event hosts the 2016 World Marathon Championships. Many new riders visited this year’s event to learn about the track, the winners Tiago Ferreira and Sally Bigham will take extra confidence into next year’s Worlds.
The official date is yet to be announced for next year’s event but we can highly recommend racers attending the event to do one of the support races. For spectators the course offers great accessibility, with a little planning you should be able watch the race at the start, finish, and maybe 5 other locations. The nearest airports are Toulouse and Montpellier, both about 2 hours drive from Laissac. There are plenty of accommodation options either in the nearby city of Rodez or in the surrounding countryside. Should you decide to visit be sure to stay an extra couple of days, Aveyron has plenty to keep you amused, whether it be amazing scenery or fantastic cycling routes.