Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Euro Summer Season

This year is flying by and it’s sad to say that the Euro summer has almost come to an end.
Things have been pretty full go since my last update back in China (a long time ago now) with plenty of racing as the tour's began back in June. Spring was all about the brutal one day battles, whereas summer has included more stage racing. It’s been quite a nice change and I can happily say the peloton tends to be a wee bit calmer when racing back to back days. Just a bit!

Looking back a few months I was competing in my first Giro Rosa. The Giro is kind of like the female version of the Tour de France. It’s huge and everyone wants to be there racing. This year is was shortened to 8 days of pain and it was a pretty crazy experience, filled with some great memories to keep. Not only was the racing very challenging but also the logistics. We ended up covering a lot of Italy along the way with some serious transfers after each stage. 600km being the longest...Plenty of team bonding in the camper!
Wiggle Honda’s Giorgia Bronzini took out stage 2 in an incredible sprint and also a 2nd place stage 6. The win was a special thing to be part of.

Following the Giro I had a week to rest up and recover at best in Belgium with the kiwi crew. I’ve been staying in the kiwi base for most of the season just out of Oudenaarde and not far from famous Belgian city, Gent. It’s been a great time there...good training with some nice punchers plus plenty of cobbles and a bit happening in the area to avoid boredom but not too much to be of a distraction (perfect cyclist environment)! To top things off, a great crew of people. It’s been the best being around New Zealanders between races as helps avoid any homesickness and keeps the mood pretty ‘chill’. Kiwi’s tend to be fairly laid back people (as we’ve been told) so it’s been good! ‘All Hood in the Good’ as they’d say. Plenty of barbeque time this summer too which has been a bonus!! Thanks for having me team.

From there it was off to East Germany for Thuringen Rhundfarht; another 7 day stage race. I was a little dubious as to how the bod would hold up after the Giro and the small recovery period following but after some serious relaxation in Belg I was feeling  fit and healthy and ready for new battles. This was my first real time in Germany, having only ever crossed the AutoBahn in the past. German team mates Anna 'Schnitzi' Schnitzmeier and Lotte Becker were pretty pleased to have us there. All in all it was a solid week with a top 5, 15th in the ITT and a few top tens. Following the TT the team was committed to Linda and her contending the GC. She certainly found her form pretty quickly following arrival in Europe! 

After a good few days of relentless efforts to make something happen we had to suffice with 5th place for her in the General. This certainly got her revved up for her next one at the Route De France where she cleaned up on the last day, winning the overall by a phenomenal 6 minutes. This girl flies!

My first Derney race in Germany!

Following this I had a few more events in Germany and the UK followed by a top training camp in the Alps with Anna and Dani  and British men’s team NFTO race. It was only planned for us to be there the week before so I really had no idea of what to expect. Safe to say it was a challenging week – I don’t think I’ve ever gone up so much in 4 days! We conquered some pretty famous TDF climbs and lucky (or not) for us the TDF km signs were still up...28km to go, 27km to go...and so on. I really don’t know if it was too good for the mind seeing that wee sign every k of the climb! 1km to go was a treat, however.
We did some epic days in the saddle but thanks to great company and support it made for a top week. The lads were all very cruisy and welcoming so it was a good time. Must admit I was pretty smoked by the end of it though...
Thanks to John and NFTO racing for having us Wiggle girls along. We had the best week!

Following this I knew I’d have some serious fitness coming into my next big event, The Sweden World Cup team time trial and road race. I’d got the call a few weeks earlier that I had made the team and I was pretty thrilled about it. It’s a very special event and something I’m still new to but am excited about. Wiggle Honda has some very strong TT riders so I’m pleased to be learning from them through this whole experience. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan following the Alps...when your body is at its best fitness (according to my coach)! you either peak or you shut down and get ill. While most of the other riders from the Alps went into top form, I drew the line and shut down picking up a flu virus the day prior to the TTT. I was beside myself and very frustrated at the timing of this. It’s not the best feeling, especially the beginnings of the flu when you’re not quite sure what’s going on. That achy, heavy feeling all over...Initially I thought I may just be tired but then woke with the remaining symptoms the next day. Safe to say I wasn’t an asset in the TTT and contributions were minimal. Much to my disappointment I also had to withdraw from the road race. Not the best weekend but kudos to the girls who pulled off an impressive 5th place with just 4 riders. 

After a few frustrating weeks trying to get over sickness, I was off to France for our next block. I hadn't done much at all these weeks as recovery was taking it's time. Safe to say I suffered a whole lot in Ardeche and the very mountainous terrain didn't exactly help!
All up a successful week with Gio claiming two stages and Linda in the leaders jersey until the final day where she unfortunately got pretty ill with food poisoning. Not ideal but thankfully she came good after a few days :)

Toscana was next up in Italy. With only a few days to recover I was still pretty weary. I was happy, however to get my best result in a prologue coming in 7th. This was cool for me and definitely lifted my confidence a little after the previous sickness. Unfortunately, however after suffering a virus recovery is a lot slower so when you put your body under a lot of stress in extreme efforts like a prologue it can really take its toll. The next day I really suffered through. It was a very miserable bike race and one of those days I honestly wasn't sure If I could reach the finish line. I did and much to my delight after my bad day, I came in to the news our star Gio had done it again. She is climbing like a demon so watch out Worlds!

I'm now cruising with the kiwis preparing for the World Championships road race this coming Saturday, in Italy. I'm very excited to be here competing and hope to deliver a good performance for the team. Team mate and friend Linda just pulled off an impressive 2nd place in yesterday's ITT so we all know she is bombing. I think she too is one to watch!

All has been well preparing aside from the odd hiccup. Yesterday, out training near Montecatino I was cruising home after training when I slipped on a nasty patch of fresh oil coming downhill. I hit my head a bit rough so took a trip in the ambo and spent the day getting tests in a crazy Italian hospital. Wasn't really crazy but they do talk fast?! Thankfully all was ok, just a bit banged and some stitches on my forehead. #harrypotter
Could've been much worse. Helmets are the best!

Jumped on the rollers this morning and body seems all fine so moving on and now looking forward to Saturday! Go kiwis!

All for now.

Thanks again to all Wiggle Honda sponsors, staff and team for a great season. It's been a year to remember and very pleased to say I will be returning for 2014!

Also to O.P.I and Nimue Skin Technology (Global Beauty NZ), Maurice Verkerk, Tina Pic and Rocktape NZ.

                                                  A BIG THANKS!


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