As I sit here with my feet up, I think I can safely say I feel like I and the team have ended our European uci racing block on a high. This weekend at Sparkassen Giro in Germany, I finally felt all my hard work fall in to place.
The travel to this race felt like nothing compared to the mammoth 7 and 10 hour journeys of the previous stage races. At the hotel we met Hanka, and then went in search of pre race food. The best we could find was a handy placed Ikea, but to be honest Swedish meatballs and rice went down an absolute treat. Techniques for saving our legs for evenings race had started to come into play, me and Hannah jumped on a trolley and got pushed at some speed across the car park by none other than Ms Kupfernagel. The award for the biggest kid on the team definitely goes to Hanka!!!
That evening, we had a 50km crit, the warm up event before the biggy the next day. We were all a little unsure what to expect I think, but we were quietly confident, as crits seemed to be our speciality in the UK, and 50km sounded like a nothing compared to the 100+km stages of Thurigen. I felt surprisingly good from the start, which was lucky as Hanka launched attacks from the gun, (Note: a positive to having Hanka on the team is you get a heads up she is going to do this, so you can prepare yourself for the pain) and I was actually able to counter attack when she was brought back. Yes, that’s right my legs launched me off the front of the bunch, and this wasn’t the only time in the race either. In fact Horizon flipping dominated! Hanka got in a break of 2 with Chloe Hosking of HTC. To be up there controlling the front of the race with HTC and the rest of my team felt amazing. Hanka rocked a 2nd place, and Hannah showed she can sprint amongst the best and was right up there in the bunch kick at the end!
Back at the hotel, I had the pleasure of Hannah as my roomie, which has become pretty standard really. We had both definitely started to realise that all that suffering of the past stage races had all been worth it, those 100’s of Kms slogging it in the groupetto had actually made us…..well, Strong! Through all these races we have kind of developed an evening routine. Get all organised for the next day, then await the inevitable knock of Wyman (Helen) for our evening Boogle challenge on the I-pad. We usually do this until me and Han are sick of being beaten by Helen, then we boot her out and settle into our books. We have blossomed into quite the geeks, which as 2 blondes, we are very proud of!
So Sparkassen Giro, 88km, 6 laps, short punchy hills. We were ready, team morale was high although part of me was slightly worried I’d given a tad too much in the crit. But these worries were quickly erased as we got stuck into the first lap. The pace was high and attacks were being launched left, right and centre. Throughout the race we had a Horizon rider in every move, and right up the front. Hanka was her usual attacking self, and it was great to have Jo back with the team as she was literally on fire!!!! The Olympic track stars on our team are often poached from us by GB for track blocks, but I love it when they come back to us, they are a joy to race with. And I’d like to take this moment to Shout out to Dani King for her U23 European Gold and Silver Medals…….proud to have her as a team mate and a best friend!! After more controlling, and attacking a group of 6 chipped off the front on the last decent, Hanka nicely placed in there. She sprinted to a 4th, and bagged herself the sprints jersey. Hannah again grabbed a 18th holding her own in the bunch sprint! I rolled in 32nd, but not disappointed with that at all. This has been the first UCI race where I felt I could constantly contribute to a team performance, and to be overtaking people up the climbs, well that felt pretty damn good too.
We returned to Oudenaarde on a high, and even got the Pizzas in to celebrate a successful weekend! And that wraps up our European racing block, there has been highs and lows for sure, but to end on such a high really does make you forget about the lows, and get excited for 2012!! For me I’m going to try fit in a few races before I head to the Alps for a 2 weeks training camp with the cross stars in my life Helen and Ian. It’s all about finishing this year as fit as a fiddle so when I come back next year….I can step it up again! And after the flats of Belgium, I’m more than ready to have my breath taken away by the views in the Alps!
I’ll let you know how much pain I’m in of course