2e Manche Nationale Besançon (FRA), 18.11.12

2e Manche Nationale Besançon (FRA), 18.11.12

Photographer for once...

For the first time this season, I didn't race myself but watched others suffer in the mud. It felt weird, watching others almost always makes you want to grab your bike and try out yourself. But to race as a non-french person, you basically need a licence given by the FFC (french club or team) or be invited by the organisator. So, armed with patience, a warm jacket and my camera, I went on a hunt for good pictures of Josselin (U23) and his brother Florian (Junior).

The juniors started at 10am, for 40 minutes. 127 riders on the start, which was a hell of a lot compared to what Florian is used to see. It was his first big cyclo-cross race and he did well considering it being a first. Some minor errors, due to inexperience, a place far behind in the starting grid (14th row out of 17) but he gave it his best which is really all that counts. Progress comes with experience and patience, he finished 99th out of 120 on the arrival, around 7 minutes behind the winner from the Rhone Alpes.

Josselin started at 11am with the U23, which they call Espoirs in France. There were less riders on the start than in the juniors race, but the start still was impressive. Josselin started in the 8th row out of 11. The best french Espoir racers took the start, amongst others a friend of ours, the french national U23 champion and later winner of the race Julian Alaphilippe. So off they went, TGV-style. The best riders quickly detached themselves from the rest, behind almost no groups formed, most riders were left on their own. Josselin did what he could, he hadn't done a recognision lap in the morning, so he was hesitant at first, but quickly dealt well with the mud and the slippery road sections. Looking at the starting list, at the names, it was clear that there wasn't a place in the 30 first riders to be expected, it was only Josselins second race on a higher level (after St Etienne les Remiremont last week, Steve Chainels home race) and his very first Challenge National. Like his brother, he did all he could, but the first riders were just too fast, and the judges took Josselin out just before he could go into his last lap. He finished 64th out of 78th at the arrival (3 riders quit the race). 

The experience was nice, it felt great to see a bigger race, reminding me of the races in Belgium which I do miss (even if I never finish with a result). There were not amazingly many spectators, I expected a bit more for a race of this size, but the organisation was great, especially if you consider that they only had a month and a half to do everything (after the manche at Miramas had been annuled).