If you missed my last post, you can find it here.
On Friday I went with the team to northern Jutland. We were participating in the Craft Cup stage race 3 Days in the North from Saturday to Monday. I was very excited to get the season started and to get a feeling of my race mode. It was also the first trip with the “new” team and some new faces to get to know 🙂
The first stage was in Hjørring and we woke up to a chilly morning with frost and a very cold wind. I put on several layers of clothes and warming balm on the legs – better safe than sorry seems to be the lesson from last year where everybody was nearly freezing to death because of the cold and wet weather.
Again, this year we are only two riders in the women elite class on the team and we are battling against teams of 10+ riders (not in every race, but in general). Normally we race with the men’s C-class, but in this race women elite and women B-class was put together and we were 20 riders on the start line.
Our strategy was to be “on hold” and see what the other girls had in mind. One of the other girls attacked shortly after the start and my team mate, Josefine, followed so I stayed in the peloton. Unfortunately, she didn’t caught the group of three riders in front and they went on a breakaway.
Only Josefine and I wanted to close the gap which was an impossible mission without help from the others in the peloton. I didn’t feel strong and I was too disappointed of not being in the breakaway, so instead of playing tactical for a 4th place I just wanted to finish the race.
That meant I took the front for the last 7 kilometers. Of course, no one wanted to be up there in the final and it is very typical when we have these women races that no one ever wants to take a lead. Because of the work all day and the position before the finish, I didn’t have anything left for the sprint and I came in 7th while Josefine fought her way to 5th.
The day after we went to Thy with a plan. I was supposed to win the stage and I tried to escape the peloton, but I was closed after 8 minutes in the heat. Then Josefine tried and because of the hilly course I guess the others didn’t think she would manage to go solo for 69 kilometers. But she did!
The peloton waited a long time and was going really slow while Josefine drifted longer and longer away. When the peloton finally decided to close the gap, I followed every single move and a group of six riders formed a chasing group. I was in it, but not willing to work until the end, when I knew they couldn’t catch Josefine in the front.
There were several attacks with long breaks in between, but it was only on the final hill things split up. I didn’t see the attack from behind, so I lost a few meters to the others. On the top I couldn’t get my shifter from small to big chain ring, so it took me ages to catch up and when I finally did the girls started the sprint, so I finished 6th and was a bit disappointed. But I was also really happy about my performance, being able to cover every attack until the end and for Josefine to take the stage win on a course that didn’t even suit her.
On the final stage in Aalborg, we had not only one plan, we had a plan A, B and C because now we had the opportunity to go home with the overall win and the jersey. I had put on my racesuit for the big final 😉 Again, we wanted to be the waiters, but again the pace was too slow for my taste, so I went to the front just to speed things up a bit.
I didn’t go that fast, but suddenly I had a small gap. As a reflex I pushed harder but it wasn’t a part of any of our plans so I thought about stopping for a second, but decided to give it a go. It could help us getting the others a bit tired by trying to catch me.
After the first lap I had gained a minute and after the second lap it was 1:30 minutes. On the third lap I was passed by the men elite which was a huge group followed by service cars.
My car in front didn’t know what to do, so instead of just keep going it slowed down to let the men pass. It took too long and I was losing time, so I passed my car – it came back a bit later. After that lap I had lost time to 1:15 minutes.
I still had two laps to go and I was starting to feel the pain for real, but then on lap four I had gained 3 minutes. I kept the pace up to test myself and on the last lap everything was hurding. I thought I was going slower and slower but looking at the laps afterwards I was pretty steady with a difference of maximum 30 seconds between the laps.
With a few kilometers to go I was passed by the junior men and again my car couldn’t keep up. The juniors blocked me because they were going for the final sprint – but hey, so was I! It was a bit of an anticlimax to cross the finish line at the same time as a sprint finish in another class and no one noticed me passing the line. I wasn’t even announced the winner in the beginning.
I had been out there alone for more than 86 kilometers and even though I know the peloton was probably unable to cooperate and establish a pursuit, I pushed hard, so I was tired and my abs were hurding for the rest of the day because of heavily breathing for 2,5 hours.
In the bunch sprint Josefine was in position of taking the overall win but she was blocked and only 1 point differed from 1st to 2nd place. My win gave me an overall 3rd in the Craft Cup, so going home with two stage wins, an overall 2nd and 3rd is pretty damn good by our little team.
It was our first races as a team and it showed that we can cooperate and that we race smart. Not always according to plan, but we take our chances and sometimes we loose other times we win. That’s racing 😉
Women’s Cycling in Denmark
I don’t know how it is in other countries, but the “problem” with women’s racing in Denmark is the big difference in levels. Normally we race with the men where the pace is high and the peloton big.
In these races we were only 20 riders and it seemed like no one wanted to race. The pace was ridiculously slow and only a few riders participated in the work – some didn’t because they didn’t have the strenght and others, well, I don’t know. It was so boring at times and I don’t understand how anyone thinks that is fun racing.
I DO support women races and wish we could have them every time, but not like this. Not until we have enough riders on a level where it is actually going to be a race.
Our team is racing again this weekend and I’m looking forward to race with the men and get som speed in the legs. Hopefully it will be another succesful race-weekend 😀