Saturday, 26 April 2014


Start: s'Heerenhoek, The Netherlands
Finish: s'Heerenhoek, The Netherlands
Distance: 120km
Status: UCI 1.2
Team: Giorgia, Lotte, Bea, Amy, Elinor and I
Staff: Franky, Jarrod, Pascal and Bart

It felt like forever since I had been away with the #wigglettes at the Energiewacht Tour, the only reason I didn't go insane in Buggenhout is because it was Easter which means chocolate, and I was able to get back on my MTB for two races. I had similar plans for this weekend until I got the late call up to ride Borsele in place of Emilia who had been battling illness for two weeks. I was super motivated to race and race well. I had a big two weeks of training under the belt and with the Women's Tour closing in quickly, with only one position vacant within the squad I wanted to prove that I was worthy of it and today was my chance to do that.

After the first lap splits only 60 girls remain
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

After my weekly scope of the race preview on I knew the race was five laps around a wind swept circuit with a few narrow roads thrown in for good measure. It was no secret from years past that the most important part of the race was after just 3km. A 180 degree left hand bend takes you from a tail-wind highway to a cross-wind backroad and the race would be made form here. Despite lining up 35 minutes before the start gun I still found myself on the back row with fellow Australian Nettie Edmonson for company, happy to welcome her back for her first European race of the season. 

If Franky hadn't done enough to warn me of the importance on being frontline at 3km, she certainly did her job in scare tactics to convince me that it wasn't an option- I HAD to be there. So the story goes… 3km in and I was lead ten into the penultimate corner. There were multiple crashes and when the dust settled, we had just three survivors in Gio, Bea and myself. The peloton had been reduced from 170 down to 60 and those that missed the move never saw the front again. As damning as that may sound, such is the nature of Dutch racing and it's half the reason I have fallen in love with it so quickly.

Looking after Gio incase her legs change their mind
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

I won't reflect too much on covering 'this attack' and 'that break' because it was an ever changing day. Gio had made it clear pre-race that her legs weren't good and on a few occasions took me to the front so that I could make my mark. But I couldn't help but feel guilty for that and helped her out in return when we were starting to fall too far back. I tried to spend most of the day in the echelon but it was obvious that the wind wasn't quite right, the impetus wasn't there, and the stretches of road weren't long enough in the right direction to cause a proper 'split' in the peloton. Instead a few breakaways were formed and the narrow roads allowed some block tactics, but even representation from every team didn't drive our nine person break up the road. Teams didn't just want a rider up the road, they wanted their #1 rider.

One lap to go..
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

My legs hadn't felt great all day. I spun them out on the rollers this morning but I knew they were tired and I just hoped they would behave. They were still doing the talking when it mattered, but to make up for any shortfall I tried to follow the right wheels, today my pick was Gracie Elvin (Orica). We had been in a 9-woman mid-race break together and she was keen to make it stick so I decided to keep my eye on her. As we came through for one lap to go it was Specialized who were shooting bullet after buller off the front, but when the canon fired with 20km to go they were the only ones to miss it. Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans) and Annamiek Van Vleuten (Rabo Liv) were the aggressors, and as their team-mates rallied to block the narrow road ahead, Gracie and I managed to find our way through the cross fire.

Part of a 15-woman breakaway in the final 20kms
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen
It took a group of 7 swapping off to reach the two leaders, including Aussie Chloe Hosking (Hitec-Products). I looked around to see that we had three in a nine-rider break and it made me reflect on just how strong the Australian contingent of riders in Europe is becoming. As the kilometres counted down to single digits there was no haste in the roll-through. A few riders were waiting for their team leaders and not surprisingly a strong group bridged the gap to swell our numbers to 15. I felt pressure free as we passed three kms to go, knowing that I had no responsibility to chase a move and if I was sneaky enough and fast enough, I could perhaps claim an unexpected podium here. Two kms to go and I was in the drops, more than ready to…puncture!

Chloe Hosking overcomes Kirsten Wild to take victory
Photo courtesy

It was both ironic and uncanny that I punctured today. It was actually our first team puncture for the year that wasn't on cobbles and Jarrod felt personally responsible. We had team car number one, so after the bunch came flying past and I was pushed off by the neutral spares they came alongside me. I said a few things that I won't repeat publicly, but Jarrod could only sit in the back seat with his mouth open, speechless. I had been so excited about racing on the new Campagnolo Bora 35's and bragging about our Vittoria Corsa CX (gum wall) tyres but the truth is that it's just unlucky. Shit happens. I would not have won the race, but it would have been nice just to try. I caught back to the bunch and finished 32nd. The only thing that can heal this wound is rubbing dirt in it tomorrow on the MTB :)

Results: Via Cyclingdatabase
Garmin 510: Via Strava
Race Video: Via Hans Verbeek