Trofeo Alfredo Binda World Cup
A crash ended my first Road World Cup. But I never went down. A teammate fell and I made the split second decision to stop. She was one of our protected riders and we were about 10km from the base of the first climb. The team had planned to use me up before that point, and for the first 20km I had zero impact on the race and provided no assistance to our team, as I was in the second half of the bunch struggling to position. The closest I got to assisting a teammate was when Emily called me back to help with her radio that had fallen out of its pocket in her knicks. I was battling just to keep upright through the fast corners and narrow streets and was in no position to take a hand off my handlebars, let alone reach under her jersey.
When I saw Kat fall my immediate instinct was to stop. The bunch had some pace so I had to slow down safely, move to the side of the road and double back to reach Kat who was assessing her injuries. I was using a race radio for the first time and had actually forgotten that I had the ability to communicate with the team car. I called the crash in as I rode back toward Kat. My legs were good and I thought I could bring her back to the bunch. As our car sped towards us, I thought Marv yelled at me to get off the road, but then soon after he yelled for me to go. A small group of dropped riders came past and I jumped on, still looking back waiting for Kat. When I was told Kat was out of the race I got on the front and started chasing. But before long a race commissaire drove past and told us to stop racing. At this point in UCI races when you have lost contact with the main group, the road gets reopened to traffic and you're on your own to find your way back to the finish line, or team car. I rolled around the rest of the lap with a bunch of dropped riders, stopping to watch the race come past at two points. They spoke mostly in Italian and seemed happy enjoying the warm spring day. I was riling over my decision to stop when it was clear that I probably should have kept riding. I was also concerned about Kat and disappointed I could not support the four riders who were still in the race. We talked about my decision at length after the race, first with just my team director and then in our team debrief. I also asked friends from other teams what their protocol is. Turns out I made the wrong call. I may however never be faced with that decision again.
Fortunately my tough teammate Kat has only grazes and one nasty gash on her elbow that needed a couple of stitches. Our climber Rachel was our sole finisher and represented the team well. Chloe also collected some sprint points. I ate far too much to prepare for a 21.5km race. The enormous Lindt chocolate block as our gift from race organisers won't help either. I stopped at just two rows tonight. So that's two DNFs from two starts in Europe this season. It is always an honour to wear the green and gold, but I was unable to honour it today. I learnt some valuable lessons in racing and hope to redeem myself in the coming months. We have one more week training from our AIS base in Northern Italy before moving to the Netherlands. Our next race is the Grand Prix de Dottignies in Belgium on 7 April.