Premondiale Giro Toscana Int. Femminile – Memorial Michela Fanini: Stage 1

15 Sep

Statistics:

Distance: 5.4km

Time: 6minutes 27seconds

After two days rest (one for those coming from Holland), we entered another stage race.  This time, in the beautiful Tuscany region of Italy.  Today we did a team time trial.  The course was pancake flat and 5.4km in length.  It included two very long straight sections and two very short end sections with two turns each.  We did two laps of this course.  Our squad included Judith Ardnt, Ina Tuetenburg, Charlotte Becker, Chloe Hosking, Katie Colclough, Ally Stacker, and myself.  We were the third from last team to start, putting our start time around 6:30pm.  After a good warm up, it was go time.  Ina started things off and took a very hard pull.  So hard, that I had trouble holding her wheel.  Next it was my turn.  I took as hard of a pull as I could.  Judith came around me when my speed started to drop.  From there, it was about survival.  I filled in spots as I could.  My teammates were motors and I had some serious trouble trying to hold their wheels.  In the end, we finished with six of our seven riders with a time of 6minutes 27seconds.  Second place was thirteen seconds behind us.  It was a nice start to the tour!  Judith will start tomorrow’s stage in the pink jersey.

Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche: Stage 6

13 Sep

Statistics:

Distance: 73km

Time: 2hours 5minutes

Speed: 34kph

The final stage was anything but easy.  Even though it was the shortest stage, it was one of the hardest.  We climbed over 1200meters in total.  The race started off with a bit of a climb, before descending into the major climb of the day.  This climb was 6km in length, with an average gradient of 5%.  Luckily, we had a tailwind going up the climb.  The bunch stayed together until about 2.5km from the top.  Emma Pooley threw down an attack.  I followed, along with the other G.C. contenders and a few other riders.  We rotated through at the top of the climb, but were eventually caught.  The Russian national team had missed the break, so they drilled the pace and caught us.  Ally and Emilia were in the chase group.  Evie did not start today, as she was preparing for a time trial the next day.  Amber was also preparing for the time trial, but opted to ride the race at an easier pace to recover as much as possible.  We descended for quite some time.  The next major point was at 57km into the race.  There was a short and steep climb.  Emma Pooley attacked again.  This time only four other riders were able to hold the pace.  I dug as deep as I could to stick with the attack, as the riders only two seconds ahead of me were in the split as well.  The last 500meters of the climb were hard and Emma wasn’t letting up on her pace.  We finally reached the top and started the long descent to the finish.  A small group chased on to our group on the descent.  Emilia was in it.  This was a great situation for us.  At 5km to go, Emilia attacked.  She got a gap, but was chased down by Emma Pooley.  A few kilometers later, Emma attacked.  She was chased down eventually.  Emilia hit the front at about 700 meters to go.  The finish was technical, with a sharp right hand turn in a round-a-bout 50 meters from the finish.  The motorbike went straight in the turn, taking the group with.  Once we realized it, we all turned as quickly as possible and sprinted the final 50meters from a dead stop.  Emilia was the first one into the corner, and the first one across the line.  So incredibly cool to see!  I came in behind Emilia for 2nd place.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to put any seconds on the two riders ahead of me.  So I finished 4th in G.C., just two seconds off 2nd.  I also won the young rider competition.  Emilia won four of the seven stages.  As a team, we won five of the seven. We took the team G.C. as well.  It was a very successful tour for us.  We all had a lot of fun and enjoyed racing our bikes!

Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche: Stage 5

13 Sep

Statistics:

Distance: 125km

Time: 3hours 40minutes

Speed: 33kph

Today’s game plan was just like every other day.  We wanted a stage win.  The course didn’t have as much climbing as yesterday, but we could see from the profile that it was going to be just as hard, if not harder.  The first 40km of the race were extremely tough.  It was constant up and down.  On top of all that, it was extremely warm.  We had a tail wind for most of the climbs, so sitting in the pack got a bit toasty!  Amber, Ally, Evie, and Emilia all took turns attacking.  I was supposed to sit in a conserve for the finish and try to gain seconds on the two places ahead of me.  Eventually Emilia got in a break with four others.  Pia Sundstedt attacked and put a minute into Emilia’s group.  Emilia attacked her break-a-way companions shortly after and bridged to Pia.  The two of them worked together and put a significant amount of time on the peloton.  Back in the bunch, Garmin organized a chase.  We caught the remainder of the break-a-way, but Emilia and Pia were nowhere in sight.  In the finish, Emilia sprinted for the win!!  I sprinted in the group behind for 3rd place, but Christel Ferrier-Bruneau got me at the line.  At the end of the day, I finished 4th and retained my 4th place on G.C. and 1st in the young rider competition.  The entire team did amazing again today.  We were very aggressive early on.  While in the bunch, Amber, Ally, and Evie did an awesome job looking after me.  I focused on following the top three G.C. contenders, making sure they didn’t go up the road without me.  I have been learning a lot these past couple of days.  I’m focusing more on conserving, hydrating, and eating on and off the bike.  Today I think I drank 7 or 8 bottles!  That’s nearly 2 bottles an hour, which for me, is a huge improvement.  One more day!

Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche: Stage 4

11 Sep

Statistics

Distance: km

Time: 3hours 40minutes

Speed: 35kph

Phew, that was a long, hard day on the bike.  As you can see, the race started off with a significant amount of climbing.  In total, we climbed 3000meters (9000feet).  This stage was noted the “queen stage”.  Our goal was to win the race.  We were very aggressive from the beginning.  Ally, Amber, Emilia, and Evie all took turns attacking.  Since  I was up in the G.C., my job was to cover moves by the others around me and be conservative for later in the race.   Eventually, Evie got off the front with two other riders, one being Carla Ryan from Garmin-Cervelo.  The field sat up and the break went up the road.  Two riders got free of the peloton and managed to bridge up to the break.  Later on, we caught one of them, leaving only four up the road.  The peloton was pretty content with the situation.  However, the Russian National team set tempo up every climb.  Around 90km into the race, there was a fast downhill leading into a climb.  Emma Pooley used the momentum to attack on this climb.  I followed, but soon fell off the pace.  Teammate Amber Neben kept up with her, along with the two riders in front of me in G.C. I climbed solo, but saw a group of 3 others coming up behind me.  I let up and waited for them.  We chased hard on the descent, and eventually caught the group ahead of us.  By that time, Evie was up the road about 6minutes by herself.  We caught her break-a-way companions.  From there, the group worked hard to manage the time gap to Evie.  She had become a threat to the G.C.  The last 5km were in to a solid head wind.  It was brutal!  Coming into the last 1km, Amber and I discussed the finish.  Amber gave me an awesome lead out with 500meters to go.  I came around her with 150 meters to go.  It came down to a bike throw between myself and Christel Ferrier-Bruneau of France.  Afterwards, I found out that I had thrown my bike well enough to win the group sprint for 2nd place!  Very cool to go 1-2 on a stage like today.  It was an AWESOME display of team work all day.  So happy to be a part of it!  Also, I moved up to 4th in G.C. and into the young rider’s jersey after today’s stage.

Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche: Stage 3

11 Sep

Statistics

Distance: 96km

Time: 2hours 40minutes

Speed: 35kph

After a relaxing afternoon, we headed back to the start for another bike race.  The race was pretty interesting at the beginning.  Lots of ups and downs, lefts and rights.  At 17km into the race, there was a climb.  This wasn’t the make or break point of the race though.  At 27km into the race, there was a short, but steep climb (resembling a Belgian style climb).  Just before it was a fast downhill.  Emma Pooley attacked the climb and split the group.  I was quite a ways back, so had to chase onto the group.  The break consisted of 2 Garmin riders (Emma Pooley and Lizzie Armistead), 2 riders from the Russian National team, 2 riders from the French National team (Christel Ferrier-Bruneau), 1 rider from Colavita, 1 rider from the Belgium National team, 1 rider from the Norwegian National team, Ashleigh Moolman, and myself.  The break worked well together.  I was told to sit on, as Emilia was in the leader’s jersey and we didn’t want the break to gain time on her.  The first climb was hard, but we had a tailwind and it was manageable.  It also helped that there weren’t any attacks and the group was committed to putting time into the peloton.  On the second climb, which was 8km, Emma Pooley attacked at about 4km from the top.  I tried to bridge to her, but wasn’t able to make it.  From there, we all continued to roll the break to keep Emma from gaining too much time.  Once we got closer to the finish, attacks started happening and people stopped working.  Yes, it was frustrating, but that’s part of the game.  At the end of the day, Emma Pooley won the stage with 2minutes 25seconds on our group.  The finish was a bit sketchy and there was a crash.  I managed to stay ahead of it and finished safely in 8th place with the rest of the group.  The peloton was over 5 minutes behind our chase group, and 7minutes 33seconds behind the stage winner.  It was a hard day on the bike.  The finish moved me up into 5th place overall (2minutes 22seconds off 1st, 11seconds off 2nd, 2seconds off 3rd, and 1second off 4th).  It also moved me up into 2nd place in the young rider competition.  Unfortunately, Amber had a mechanical before the “Belgian climb.”  Evie went back to help her catch back on.   The move of the day happened before they made contact.  Tomorrow is another day, and we are here to win some bike races!!  More to come.

Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche: Stage 2

11 Sep

Statistics

Distance: 3.5km

Time: 5minutes 25seconds

 

Today was the double day here in the tour.  The morning started off way too early.  We were up and eating breakfast at 6:00am.  Ouch.  Fortunately, Ronny booked us a hotel only 8km from the time trial.  The first rider was off at 8:30am.  My start time was 9:46am.  We got to the course and pre-rode it several times.  It was very technical.  The total distance was 3.5km.  It started with a 1.5km climb that got pretty steep in sections.  From there, you made a left hand turn down a really fast and technical descent.  Perfect time to get some recovery, even though it was only maybe 5 seconds.  At the bottom of this descent, there was a sharp left hand turn.  The rest of the course was gradually downhill with lots of sweeping turns.  After another left hand turn, the course started to drag uphill to the finish.  When I first pre-rode the course, I thought I would use a road bike for sure.  A road bike would climb faster and on the descent you can get more control of the bike.  In the end, we all used time trial bikes with disc wheels.  It turned out to be the better choice.  The downhill/flattish sections of the course were a lot faster on a time trial bike.  At the end of the day, my teammate Emilia Fahlin completely crushed the course.  From the sounds of it, she flew down the hill posting a time of 5minutes 13seconds.  She beat 2nd place by 6 seconds.  I came in 6th with a time of 5minutes 25seconds.

Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche: Stage 1

7 Sep

Statistics

Distance: 112km

Time: 2hours 50minutes

Speed: 40kph

Altitude Gain: 1300feet

Thankfully we had a late start (2pm). I was pretty tired from the day/night before, so needed as much sleep as possible! The race started off fast. There was a GPM sprint at 15km into the race. We decided that Evie or I would go for that sprint today. Amber gave me an awesome lead out and I took the points. I had a small gap, so I pushed the pace down the hill. It was a moderately technical and fast descent, and I knew I would feel more comfortable at the front and away from the peloton. The rest of the race was pretty straight forward. It was fast, as we had a tailwind most of the way. Once we hit the headwind though, the group came to a halt. Things started to get active again about 20km from the finish. Garmin-Cervelo took turns attacking and counter attacking. We were covering all their moves. Eventually, everyone knew it was coming down to a sprint. Garmin set up their lead-out train. It was a sketchy final 5km. Cars were all over the road and the group was nervous. Fortunately, we all stayed upright. Emilia did an awesome job and stayed at the front. She finished 5th in the bunch sprint. Tomorrow we have a double day. Time for some sleep!