June 18, 2008
Tour de Prince Edward Island
With our team Menikini-Selle Italia, we won stages one, two, three and five (second in stage four) in the recent Tour de Prince Edward Island (PEI). We took first, second and third in the general classification, and we also won the mountain and sprints jerseys.
One might ask if there was anyone else there – well, the answer is yes! There was a strong field in PEI; not quite a European field but winning did not come easily to us, we had to fight and work intelligently as a team to pull off those consistent results.
My team-mates were Nat Bates, Kori Kelly Seehafer and Trine Schmidt; we raced as a team of four. Our director was Klas Johannson and our manager was Walter Ricci.
We had a nice, relaxed trip and worked really well together – it was the first time this year that we have raced as an English speaking team and I think that the language aspect alone contributed to our success. We were all committed to each other and had 100% faith in our director's tactics… even though we often questioned our capabilities – or if the demand/task would hurt ourselves more than our competitors.
This past week we all felt equally a part of each and every result. We all played different but very important rolls and we can't forget how important the directors role is in tactical bike racing.
We definitely did not go into the tour feeling cocky; I personally went into the tour feeling very nervous. We were up against some well known strong sprinters from Cuba and also a lot of unknown competition. Our team manager had high hopes and expectations leading into one of his favourite races, so we were feeling the pressure.
After winning on day one we all felt very satisfied; not so much with the result but more so with our tactics and faith we put in each other. We were able to control the race with wise orders from our race car and then we executed the sprint finish perfectly. I was unsure of how fast and how far my team-mates could take me in the final kilometres, so I didn't know if I could or should rely on them. I took a chance and vocally directed them from behind with three kilometres to go. We pulled off our original plan and won!
Our confidence was running high after day one. We had learnt a lot about our commitment to each other, our abilities, our current form and our motivation to win. I was surprisingly impressed with the physical condition of all three of my team-mates and we all managed to make it through the week without breaking down or getting sick.
The tour was especially satisfying for me because as a sprinter it often feels unfair that the whole team doesn't stand on the podium after a triumph, but at the Tour of PEI all of my team-mates were on the podium! It was a great feeling.
If you could have seen the work my team put in in order to make sure I got to the finish in better condition than my feared rivals, you would understand why my three stage wins at the Tour of PEI were so appreciably satisfying!
My next race will be Rabobank Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden with my new team Flexpoint. I'll fly to Holland on Wednesday to meet with my new team-mates and staff, and to adjust to my new bikes and equipment before the Giro d'Italia. We start the Rabobank Tour on Thursday 19th.