Back to Racing!! This after all is what it’s all about! So you might think it would be nerve wracking to be on the start line again but it’s actually quite exciting and relaxed when you know not too much is expected of you. Also, I had done plenty of training and could tell I had the stamina to complete a race even if I would be missing some top end speed in the sprints. I had enjoyed a week training in Gran Canaria as well, with some really hard climbs which I would just do repetitions of day after day. I was ready to start again.
My first race was the Amstel Gold race in Holland, quite hilly with the famous Cauberg climb to be completed three times. I managed to put in a couple of attacks off the front but towards the end I ran out of steam and finished in 19th place. Kasia Niewadoma won the race with Marianne Vos in 2nd place. Two days later was the famous Fleche Wallone finishing on the Mur de Huy and this was a bit more of a struggle for me. No amount of training can prepare you for the constant changes of pace and sudden accelerations required at the front of a race and my legs were feeling weak. I finished in 23rd place, after leading my team mate Elise into the bottom of the Mur de Huy. Another few days saw me over the border in Liege, Belgium for the third of the Ardennes classics – the Liege Bastogne Liege race and I managed a credible 7th place. The first three riders were all Dutch, they are going to have a real selection problem for the Worlds in September!
I had been looking forward to The Tour De Yorkshire for a long time and I really enjoyed it, but I came in well down the rankings. I hadn’t been feeling too well and I blew all my energy chasing Anna Van Der Breggen on the steep climbs around Robin Hoods Bay on an absolutely horrible day with freezing rain and sleet.
In contrast the following week I flew across to America for the Tour of California and a bit of sunshine! My team Trek Segafredo are American so they are keen to put on a good show at this race. Unfortunately I could only manage 14th place and the race was won by that familiar name – Anna Van Der Breggen – I am hoping she wears herself out by September!
So my results had been average and it would have been unrealistic to expect anything better after such a long break from racing, but I knew they would improve. I had got the basic mileage in and could begin to work on intensive efforts, to get my sprinting speed back to where it had been and this would prove quite decisive in the OVO Women’s Tour this year. As you know I was absolutely thrilled to win the race by a margin of 2 seconds from Kasia Niewadoma but I had won a lot of time from intermediate sprints, particularly on the closed-circuit stage and finish line sprints, which carry bonus seconds and these can make a critical difference in 21 hours of racing. My team Trek also won the team prize and everyone was absolutely thrilled.
I am now going to Ireland for a week’s rest and then back to training. My next race is La Course in July and then a few more races before the big one in September! Thanks everyone for all your support and I will see you there, I am sure. Fingers crossed!