I’ve never really had the experience of having to defend anything in cycling, in fact I much preferred my job of helping others defend their jerseys. But coming into Peterborough last night I was nervous, not nervous about racing, but nervous about failing and letting my teammates and all those supporting us down. This was a strange feeling for me as I wouldn’t describe myself as a nervous person, even my mum saying she hoped I could win again felt like pressure!! I tried not to let it show though, and my upbeat team did a brilliant job of taking my mind off it all.
Part of me thought Oxford was a fluke, and it was unknown to me, as I lined up first in my shiny white leaders jersey, if my legs were going to be anywhere near the same tonight. I had confidence in our team plan and knew what I had to do, but as I began to run over it again in my head it was too late as we were off. It was a wobbly start as I got shoved into Lucy Garner, rubbing shoulders with a World Champion…Literally! We had to laugh, and no doubt you all will too when its probably going to be shown on ITV 4 tonight. After a cheeky lap of motor-pacing behind the camera, the race was off and fast, just the way a crit should be! An early move by Lucy Garner and Eileen Roe went on the first lap, and I told myself not to panic as surely nothing was going to go that early and stick….then I quickly had to eat my own flipping words (well thoughts), as Lucy was brought back her teammate Harriet Owen launched it with Hannah Barnes in tow. I found myself instinctively jumping across to it, and in hindsight that was best thing I did all night.
So that was it, me, Harriet Owen and Hannah Barnes away after…..6 minutes of racing!!! I knew then if this was going to stick then this was going to hurt! Peterborough was very very different to Oxford, much to my disappointment. It was fast, with no taxing corners meaning it could be ridden at a rapid pace. I’ll put my hands in the air and admit I felt nothing like I did in Oxford, but Harriet and Hannah were both very strong and they most definitely pulled me round. The team had decided that the Sprint Jersey wasn’t going to be the main priority to defend, but again for both sprints I was in the break and with the two girls I was with not focusing on the sprints jersey either, I was free to lap up some more points and extend my lead in that classification.
Coming into the finish I felt gassed and was dreading it, as I knew if Hannah Barnes beat me she would have my jersey off my back, and when your legs are screaming that they hate you this really isn’t a nice feeling. Harriet launched it before the last corner, which I half expected but my legs couldn’t respond because dam she had a good jump! I chased and chased, knowing there was no stopping her but knowing that if I stopped Barnes would have me. I held it, thankfully!
I was flooded with relief but then my mind shifted to my teamies in the bunch, we still had the team prize to defend! I span an easily lap to approach the finish to see carnage across the road, and then the thing you dread the most, a teammate curled up by the barriers. My stomach sank, I jumped off my bike and got down on the floor to see my poor Sarah in floods of tears and pain. My initial thoughts were collar bones, but she was talking and all seemed to be moving but I could tell how much she was hurting, and also I thought Marianne Vos finished Holland Hills with a broken collarbone, so basically I couldn’t make a Simpson diagnosis. I was ushered away by annoying people, but big sis Laura was there so I knew all was in hand. Sarah sadly had to spend the night in hospital but is thankfully now out, but will have a lot of resting up to do as she has bruised kidneys, lungs and spleen. She is in good hands though as team mascot Roubaix (the dog) will be dishing out copious cuddles to aid recovery
The team retained my two Jerseys for Colchester but stood on the podium doesn’t really have the same buzz when your team mates in an Ambulance, but thanks to the girls for the hard work they put in to allow my break to go. Sadly due to the crash the team lead was lost but that’s bike racing and all is most definitely not lost with 3 rounds to go. I enjoyed the rest of the evening stood cheering on the men’s race with Jessie and Penny, and finally got to shake the infamous Mr Walker’s hand!
We now have a bigger gap until the next round on the 7th June, so I’m going to use this time to get in a good training block so I can keep stepping it up!
Until Next time