Europe – part two
The Australian team cleaned up at the Molenomloop van de Schermer last month – a stage win, two seconds, a third, best young rider, points jersey, second overall, third overall, and five in the top-10. We also smoked the teams classification by more than six minutes. After a dozen one-day races during the previous three weeks it was nice to line-up for a Tour, the 2-Daagse Omloop van de Schermer (2 days, 3 stages). But above all the results on paper, as always in cycling, it was a great team effort. It is always nice to share in the success of your teammates and contribute (when you can).
After finishing second in the opening individual time trial I was a protected rider in the afternoon criterium. I spent the early part of the race up the back. I keep replaying lines I have been told by peers and mentors in the past: position is everything; if you’re not moving up, you’re moving back. It’s all true and I’d like to think it is easier said than done. My teammates were amazing, looking around to find me, dropping back and guiding me through the bunch, and stringing it out so I could stay toward the front of the bunch. I attempted to contest two of the sprint primes but my legs were no good. We soon changed the plan and would now be working for Amy. I was back on my own fighting for position. I was feeling confident and comfortable enough in the final lap of the criterium but had slipped toward the second half of the bunch when a crash brought down several riders. I thought I had managed to pull up and avoid it, but a girl fell right into my bike. In the process she put her hand through my front wheel and somehow snapped the lever that adjusts my back brake off the frame of my bike. After I had cleared her hand from between my spokes I began the mad chase back to the small group of riders who had missed the crash. Just like a time trial, except with my back wheel rubbing against the brake pads. I was the only rider who managed to get back on, making contact in the closing kilometre as the rest of my team were on the front nailing their lead out to get Amy up for second in the stage. In getting bunch time, and with Amy collecting some bonus time, I had slipped into third overall with one stage remaining.
With five of us now GC threats we had several options for the final road race, but the cross-winds were also going to have an impact on the race. (You know it’s a windy place when you ride past wind turbines during the race!) I spent the first 40km toward the back of the bunch but moved up when I could to join our team who were controlling things up the front. I covered a couple of moves, but when the decisive move was made I was too far back. First Ash got in a group of three that slipped off the front and then a group of six joined them which included all the big hitters and Grace and Amy. With three of our girls there, all high on GC, our job now was to man the chase group. Grace was a star and out-sprinted classy track rider Vera Koedooder to win the stage and move herself up into third overall with Amy finishing second. As our coach Gary Sutton would say, the Tour was more “money in the bank” but with so many fantastic results we also cleaned up the prize purse and actually added some real money in the bank.