Season Round up

Stuart Balfour | Thursday 30th November, 2017

Stuart Balfour

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After spending last year in the south of France with wall to wall sunshine it felt a lot more like Scotland this year during the early season races in Brittany, with the freezing temperatures and almost constant rain. For most people this would definitely be a negative but I think it worked in my favour racing in the conditions similar to home. The season kicked off much earlier than I am use to, at the start of February with a 9 day training block in the Vendé competing in the Plage Vendéennes which consists of 5 separate races. This is the season starter for most of the top level French teams.

Sadly it wasn’t exactly the start I would have hoped for after picking up a cold in the first race which developed into a chest infection causing me to be off the bike for a few weeks. Once recovered I manged to really focus and slowly get into the season with a steady progression in the early months. This meant lots of long miles fitted within a big block of racing. It was a tough few months racing with heavy legs but I still managed to pull out some results with a 10th in GC at Fleche d’Armor and the KOM jersey in Etoile de Tressignaux. The main objective though was to build up my endurance after losing valuable training time last year due to surgery.

As we came to the mid-season I began to feel the benefit of the early season racing and long miles kicking in, plus being a few kilos lighter, I started to be able to perform in some of the bigger races. Things really started to turn around for me after winning a round of the Ronde Finistérienne and managing to get myself in the yellow jersey, although losing it after missing a round of the series, but managing to keep the white jersey.

 This really gave me the boost of confidence I needed. I knew I could win these sort of races. After that I went into a large block of races, such as Tour d’Auvergne (National), Tour Alsace(UCI 2.2), Pais Chauny (UCI 1.2)a round of the Coupe de France track and Agglo Tour (National). Alsace had been my first experience racing in the senior UCI ranks so it was a great chance to prove myself. After a strong ride in the queen stage which contained 8 mountains I managed to put myself into 34th on GC holding my own against some of the best climbers in the u23 ranks.

 Being the youngest in my team it meant I spent a lot of time working for my team mates. We had two of the strongest riders in the French scene, ranked 1st and 3rd in France, so I managed to help them to 4 GC wins. But there was still a chance to ride for myself in the final round of the Coupe de France managing to get a 7th place against the best riders in the French scene. Then another 7th in Circuit des 2 Provinces-Le Pertre (National)




In the final months of the season my main focus had been Paris Tours espoir. Putting in a lot of miles and races I was slowly managing to reach my full peak for the season. The weekend before at Trophe de Champions I had a strong ride in the build up to Paris Tours I spent 120km in the break, I ended up rolling into the finish in the peleton, when a rider fell in front of me. I went straight over the bars and hit the tarmac hard. Initially we didn’t think it was broken but after hours spent at the hospital doing tests and scans it turned out I had fractured my collarbone.

That week I would have to get surgery to put in a plate and 6 screws to straighten the bone. It was a disappointing way to finish a successful year, knowing I had the form to ride well in my last goal of the year, but that’s cycling. All in all it was a successful year, I had set out to make a name for myself in DN1 racing and I had certainly managed that after making huge progress throughout the year. This year I am even more motivated to go out and get the results I need to step up a level.



Chris Hoy


Endura Equip