As promised I am back sat in my hotel room writing my blog from day 2 of the Aviva Womens Tour. This is quite possibly the swankiest race hotel I have ever stayed in including an amazing looking Spa and swimming pool! Once again this race sets the standards.
So in the past we have been told that race distances can only be a maximum average of 100km per day in a stage race and the longest stage can not exceed 130km. The Ladies Tour of Holland one year was actually downgraded a category by the UCI when they broke this rule. Most stage races use a time trial to help keep the average low. However Sweetspot, the organisers of the event applied to the UCI for special dispensation. For the first time ever we have two 140km stages back to back in the middle of the 5 day race and an average distance per stage of 120km.
As an advocate for my sport I think this is so important on our route to creating the place where we all want the sport to be. As a 'cross rider, it reminds exactly why I chose my sport ha ha ha!
Today was the first of those 140km stages and it safe to say they still haven’t slowed down yet. I am waiting, maybe another 140km tomorrow will sort them out. At one point today I moved out of the line to accelerate to get on an attack and I genuinely went slower. Thankfully Laura shouts she's got this one as she whizzes past as if we are going downhill, making me feel more inadequate. While constantly reminding myself how awesome this event is, the other half of my brain is muttering ‘yeah, yeah I’d like to see you ride the sandpit at Zonhoven'. At which point U23 European cyclo-cross champion Sabrina Stultiens hammers past……whatever.
As a worker part of my job is to get anything the riders need. So around 50km when I heard Lucy asking if anyone had a spare bottle I willingly volunteered myself to go back to the team car. A few other teams were already there and the peloton was in a bit of a lull. Just as I started to grab my 4th bottle from Stef we hit the twistiest little village with railway crossings and narrow bridges and all kinds of random carnage.
I trust my husband 100% and he is such a safe driver in the convoy but even I was a little concerned as the commissaries car was slamming on the brakes in front of us and the peloton was accelerating away from me. It's not just going back, getting the bottles and getting back that takes effort, it's the distribution that can sometimes be the hardest thing. From when you left the peloton where the entire team were riding in close proximity it's almost like a small explosion happened in front of them and now not a single rider is near another. There are only two sides and a front and back to a peloton but these girls manage to actually be in five different places all at once!
Matrix teammate Elinor kept hold of the ‘Best British’ rider jersey for a second day so the team did great. As she had to wait around for the press conference and podium, the team split to get on with the two hour drive to the night's hotel. I was the only rider in the team motorhome with the soignuer Martin. All the food and drinks are kept in the camper. It may be slower but it is so much better for a hungry bike rider. After devouring the pre-made lunch from Martin I then proceeded to work my way through the left over sandwiches, fruit, bag of barbecue mini cheddars (slightly disappointing, turns out original are better) and just under 2 litres of water. Obviously I shared a lot of it with Martin as I didn't want to be the only fatty in the camper and by the third sandwich I was really thinking I probably didn't need ALL of it!!
Now I have had massage, hung out in the dressing gown provided and am ready to roll for a slightly hillier but just as long 140km tomorrow. Hopefully I will still have the energy to write again after tomorrows stage. Till then.