Elizabeth Emery Sport
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Grand Prix des Nations
September 19, 1999

GP Nations is a big-deal, single-day Time Trial. There are events for all categories - pro men and women, under 23 men, junior men (I'm not sure about young women, either under 23 or junior), and then lots of sport and veteran categories that went off first. It was 35km on a 100% rolling course - no flats at all. All the climbs were big ring climbs, though I used some big cogs in the headwinds. The women did one lap and the pro men 2 laps for a total of 70 kms. On race day the wind blew harder than it has during our whole stay in Europe. I was sure my TT helmet would fly off my head and I would sail off the road.

After thinking we were closed out of the race, we found out Thursday that we might be in and Friday morning that we were, in fact, in. Many of the riders had dropped out, leaving space for both Mari and me. Mari wanted to race to get UCI points to move her up from 11th to 10th overall. I wanted to do another TT before World's.

Friday morning, Chad, our mechanic, checked out our TT bikes, we packed up the car and drove off the US Air Base, where we've been staying, at 11am. The drive turned out to be much longer than we thought. The Air Base is near Kaiserslauten, Germany and the race was in Normandy, France (somewhere far north west of Paris). It was a 600-km drive. We arrived just in time to get our race numbers and race packets. Our hotel was 40km still farther. We got there past 7pm and ate dinner.

The next morning we had the typical French hotel breakfast of baguettes, croissant, jam, butter, cheese, coffee, tea, cocoa - not enough for race day, if you ask me. Then into the car again, back to the race site and lots of circling while Henny figured out how to get onto the course. We wanted to drive it before racing it. Then we found a parking spot, checked out the TT bikes on the road and then hopped onto the trainers for the more intense part of warm-up.

Riders started at 2-minute intervals. I started behind a Swiss rider I don't know about halfway through the 20-rider field. The race was hard. The rolling terrain and wind were quite brutal. Not knowing the course and corners was difficult too. At the halfway checkpoint I caught my 2-minute rider. At 10km to go I had a breakdown of some sort and just didn't keep it together through the corners, nor go hard enough. At 5 km to go I got it back together and picked up speed again.

Mari got a front flat quarter of the way through the race. She changed wheels and that one didn't work and ended up changing bikes.

Anna Wilson (Aussie) had a stunning race, finishing :30 ahead of Longo. I was third :10 back from Longo. Then came Marion Clignet and Hanka Kupfenagel.

After the race I had drug control. We then got back into the car. I had to beg Henny to stop to let me pee (a hazard of drinking enough for drug control). Then we all had to wait for two hours to get to the highway before we could eat since highway food is so much better than what we would have found in these little French towns. I was very hungry.

Back at the base before 1am.

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 Elizabeth Emery
 John Tomlinson
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