Day two of the Women’s Tour wasn’t quite as exciting as the opening day when my teammate Emma Johansson won and slipped into the yellow leader’s jersey. Today we relinquished the overall lead to stage winner Rosella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren), but we are still sitting in a good position with three days of racing left to go.
We knew it was going to be a hard day because of the weather conditions - it was pouring rain all the way from the hotel, to sign-on, to the race start and still at the finish. Luckily we were all well prepared with our slick rain gear from Craft. I can’t reiterate enough the importance of keeping yourself as warm and dry as possible in conditions like these. It will make the difference at the finish line.
Our plan today was to play it conservative. Although we wanted to defend Emma’s yellow jersey, we weren’t going to patrol the front all day. Our job was to monitor the front to be represented in any dangerous breaks that got away, but not necessarily set the pace.
We knew the weather was going to be a factor. There are some teams like Rabobank-Liv who are very experienced in these kinds of conditions. We thought they would put the bunch under pressure, we were ready for that, but they weren’t as active as we thought they would be.
After the first QOM of the day, Ratto went clear of the peloton on her own. She wasn’t a huge threat as a solo rider so the field was content to let her go. At one point the gap was quite close, but then peloton relaxed a bit and her advantage went out again.
With about 35 kilometres to go, Susanna Zorzi (Astana BePink) bridged across to Ratto and the gap ballooned out again. Behind them the speed was really high. We sent Shara Gillow and Nettie Edmondson to the front to help Rabobank and Boels Dolmans chase the break. There were several crashes that disrupted the chase effort. With slippery roads, potholes, gravel and rain and mud in the eyes, crashes are bound to happen. Fortunately, we are reasonably skilled in these conditions and we all made it out unscathed.
In the end, the chase wasn’t quite enough, but we were certainly breathing down their necks – just 6” back. In another kilometre, we probably would have caught them.
In hindsight, maybe we should have put another rider on the front to help chase. It was a hard situation though. Loes Gunnewijk and I were looking after Emma and the other girls were prepared for last minute attacks. Had we put more riders on the front to chase, we wouldn’t have been prepared for the sprint. It was a really tough situation to judge.
Overall, we were happy with the day. We still have a lot of cards to play in the next three days. We didn’t waste much energy in the chase, and we are very much on the hunt for the yellow jersey again.
Despite the dismal weather, the atmosphere at the start, the finish and the towns in between was still super charged. We were surprised at how many people turned out to cheer us on even in the rain. There were heaps of kids around asking good questions at the start, and hearing all the cheers out on the road for the local girls was quite cool, too. Maybe we can’t change the local weather, but everything else has been so positive, there’s really no complaining.
One of the best parts of the tour is coming back to the hotel and watching an hour of the stage on TV. It’s not often we get to see ourselves racing the same day it happened! The footage is being shot from a front moto, a rear moto and helicopter in the last 30 kilometres. It shows the highlights of the race, not all the boring bits. The announcers are doing a top notch job which makes us feel very professional.
Although the race coverage isn’t live, it is being shown during prime time, not during the middle of the day when people are at work. It’s about baby steps. We don’t want to make giant leaps and cut corners in the process. We want to make women’s cycling a viable enterprise. This is a perfect platform for us to take the next step to live coverage.
By showing the coverage on the same day, not the following week like the UCI, it keeps the hype going. It gets people interested and coming back for more. And that’s exactly what we want.