After returning from the Czech Republic the race was on the find some way of getting my dodgy knee fixed and strong enough to get stuck into the next stage race which was a gruelling 7 days long! Straight away I was on to the excessive stretching and got myself booked in with the ‘Wizard of Waregem’ as we like to call him, or to other Stefaan Meersseman the Chiropractor. My visit to him on the Thursday was beyond bizarre. He clicked and cracked me in places I didn’t think was possible, and it seemed to be over in a flash! He seemed confident I was fixed advising me just not to race the next day. He straightened my pelvis, femur and back and sent me on my way. I wasn’t convinced it was fixed, as this injury has come and gone a few times before. Even the days leading up to Germany weren’t perfect, something didn’t feel right and I was secretly worried it would ruin another race for me but……I’m happy to say it got me through Germany and is still feeling pretty dam perfect now. So please can we all now cross our fingers that it stays that way (thankyou).
So after the stress off that, we finally got in the car and headed to Germany. Another mammoth car journey, another over night stay in an etap, but I’m always fine with this due to the chocolate museli they have, which then, to my surprise and great pleasure, was in our race hotel too. Yes, i did have it everyday, as i believe it is truly the best way to start the day. It probably was my favourite meal each day, as lunch was usually pasta, rice or potatoes covered in tomato sauce. And tea was the same but usually accompanied by some unidentifiable meat/fish. It was nice but repetitive, and i think we were all looking forward to getting away and having our own personal preferences by the end of the week. Mine was definitely…..Smarties! A highlight for me and my roomie Hannah was definitely the Hot drinks machine downstairs. Some nights we hammered the Hot Chocolate option 6 times, as each portion was only shot sized and didn’t quite satisfy our chocolate addiction, which I’m sure increased as the stage race went on.
So on to the racing, I won’t go through every one of the 7 days. To relive all that again for me would just be too painful. We were racing with the best in the world, and the feeling to have such talent around you all the time was something new for me, and I really liked how much safer it felt but boy was it the hardest thing I’ve ever done. A highlight for me being the first road stage, I finished 44th, in the front bunch. This was a huge step forward for me as it’s my best placing in a UCI race and to be on the same time as the likes of Teutenberg, Pooley and Johanson really felt good. Most days it was just about hanging in the peleton as long as possible, and usually I found myself as part of the groupetto, which wasn’t as easy as most people make out. But I’m not full time, I’m not professional, the way i look at it I’m still a student with so much more to learn before i reach their level. But to dip my toes in the deep end was eye opening and has shown me exactly what I’m working towards in the next few years. To have Hanka on our team as leader really helped too. Her knowledge is endless, and the fact that she can give you a detailed account of the sketchy parts of every stage was pretty impressive too! It’s nice because everything we were experiencing she had been through more than once, and she really did have the ability to say the most helpful things, that made you feel better when times were particularly hard. I made it through 5 days, and I know I finished my race with nothing left, literally nothing!! And my biggest mistake and lesson learnt…..when one finds ones self in the groupetto, DON’T do too much work, because the next day when one attempts to stay in the peleton, one dies a MASSIVE death.
Next for me is Sparkassen Giro on Sunday, and a crit the evening before it! This race is only around 88km, my kind of length! We are hoping as a team to really make a mark there, and I’m more than up for the challenge!
I’ll let you know how it goes