My OVO Women’s Tour Stage Three
I shouldn’t be writing this blog. I have a post grad uni assignment due on Sunday that I haven’t started and my brain power would be undoubtedly better used completing, or at least starting, that. But, I think of my parents and know that in the long run, they would be more disappointed in me not writing a blog about my first World Tour win of 2017 than failing my assignment.
My Dad will tell you that the stars aligned — he wouldn’t actually, he’s very practical — to bring me the win at the third stage of the OVO Women’s Tour of Britain. A combination of factors coming together perfectly at the same time to net me the result I had wanted.
Firstly, it was a straight, slightly uphill drag to the line. He always tells me about the sprint I won at the Junior Goulburn Tour all the way back in 2006. It was also an uphill drag, “you were so strong, they couldn’t come around you”. I can’t for the life of me remember said sprint, but for my own self confidence I have decided to believe him ever since.
Then; it was the third stage, and longest stage, of a Tour that had already had two long, tough stages before it. “You ride into races, you will come good later in the week,” he texted me after the first stage on Wednesday when I had told him I felt strong in the race but was missing something in the finish.
So two factors. But still. They aligned.
“I want to sprint today.”
Sitting in my room last night I declared to my roommate Romy Kasper that tomorrow was my stage. Inspired by the latest Australian blockbuster, Lion, I had trolled google maps and decided the finish was mine to win, or lose.
There was the slight issue of the 150.8kilometres before the finish that had to be dealt with, however.
Sitting in the team bus with my teammates my team manager explained our tactics for the race. He had been clear all week; there was no pressure on the team, we wanted to use the race as preparation for the upcoming Giro Rosa after we had all had significant periods without racing. With that in mind we were to attack, or at least follow in breaks.
I spoke up, “I want to sprint today.” I think he was surprised. There were two categorised climbs in the last 40 kilometres. I told the girls I would roll into breaks but I wanted to try and save for the finish. Va bene. Which in Italian means, okay. Or good. I’m still unclear on that one.
About 25kim in however, it seemed like my plan was coming crumbling down around me. On a fast, wide open descent two girls directly in front of me locked handle bars and shortly after hit the deck. I found myself literally commentating the crash, saying out loud, “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” until the inevitable happened and I rammed into their bodies on the ground and flew over my handle bars.
Do we chase it? Where are they on the general classification? Who is in there?
I don’t think there is any footage of the crash but I’m fairly positive I chest dived. I feel like I would have looked like those skiers who plummet down those massive ramps and then take off with their arms back and chests out. Except I didn’t land gracefully, I hit the ground with my chest with my chin and lip close behind. I now have a fat lip, however while I may feel like Kylie Jenner, I definitely don’t look as glamorous. I did get it for free though.
Surprisingly, after the shock of the crash subsided I found that myself, and my bike, were okay and so I got on with things.
A break of five escaped with about 60km to go and the peloton seemed unsure of the plan. Do we chase it? Where are they on the general classification? Who is in there?
WM3, with their Polish champ in the leaders jersey controlled the gap keeping it at just under 2minutes but it wasn’t coming down fast enough. After the final QOM of the day, which I managed to suffer over with the help of Romy who stayed with me and closed the slight gap to the group in front, the plan seemed more clear.
Canyon and SunWeb got on the front and lifted the pace, the chase was on. They also wanted a bunch sprint.
The escape group got caught with about 10km to go and you could see all the teams starting to organise their sprint trains. I was tucked on to the back of Wiggle with my teammates keeping me out of the wind.
But it was far from an organised sprint. With 2km to go the peloton was still scattered everywhere and I decided the Wiggle train was not close enough to the front, I jumped ship and found myself on the Canyon train as we rounded the final corner with 700m to go. Some where between my jumping ship and finding the Canyon train a crash took out Marianne Vos and some others, I’m not sure what happened but I hope they’re okay.
Battling with Hannah Barnes I came out of the corner in third wheel. It was too close to the front with 700ms to go. The Wiggle train had obviously avoided the crash and three of them came rocketing past with about 600m to go, I didn’t need an invitation, I jumped on.
In classic OVO Women’s Tour style the road narrowed with 500ms to go, only wide enough for three, maybe two riders, to fit past.
Jolien d’Hoore took over the lead, leading out for her team mate Gio Bronzini and with 300m to go, nervous that I would get boxed in I went to go on the right. But she had seen me, Jolien went right and Gio left and I was boxed in.
I don’t know how, but I managed to get out and with 175m to go I saw a clear run to the line. Alice Barnes must had seen the same run and we drag raced next to each other for about 50m but as the road kicked up I kept going, and as Dad said, “they couldn’t come around me”.