Changing teams and the first nervous encounters with new teammates, staff, and equipment is like the first day of school.
I still remember sitting in the corner at kindergarten, aged five with my bucket hair cut, confused and wanting mum. Or my first day at college, surrounded by a thousand new faces and feeling like I didn’t know any of them. It’s daunting, overwhelming and all together scary.
Fortunately, when I walked into the team house my new Hitec Products team was renting for a training camp in Nice, France I didn’t want mum. Sure, I knew things were different. I mean, I had just walked into the perfect genetic gene pool that is Scandinavian women and was feeling a little inadequate. But I didn’t feel like I was surrounded by a thousand new faces. As my teammate, Emilia Fahlin, who also made the move with me from Specialized lululemon said, “When I walked in I felt like I already knew everyone. I felt so welcome.”
And it was true. The 10 day training camp in Nice seemed to fly by and I didn’t want to kill any of my new teammates. After one training ride that turned from what was meant to be a leisurely three-hours into an almost-six-hour-epic, which I labelled ‘team bonding’ (read getting lost) I said to our director, “I don’t know if we just don’t know each other well enough yet to actually get angry or if we just get along so well, but usually you either crack it at each other or work together to get home and we did the latter, so I guess that’s a good thing!”
Already, the new team line-up has shown, just like on camp, that we’re ready and able to work together to achieve great results. With a stage win in Qatar and three days in the Golden jersey, second overall and the young rider's jersey, any nervous trepidation I may have had about the team change has disappeared.
Qatar was full of team highlights. When the race was being lit up with attacks on the third stage Elisa Longo Borghini, the bronze medalist in the women’s road race in Valkenburg last year, buried herself to drop me off onto former world champion, Georgia Bronzini’s wheel.
Unfortunately only a few kilometres later she rode to the finish line with me consoling me after an unfortunate eleventh-hour puncture. Emilia Fahlin was ever vigilant and after rejoining the front group, saw I needed support and jumped straight on the front to bring back a worrisome break. Stage two saw twenty-year-old Thea Thorsen in the thick of things, mixing it with me and specialist echelon riders, and throughout Tone Hatteland maneuvered tirelessly through the peloton feeding us the whole tour.
After all of this I know the team has big things coming in 2013.
It was evident on training camp when we all sat down for dinner around our massive dining table — salmon or pasta ‘al dente’ cooked by two of our own team members — we’re a unit and we want to race and win as a team, not as individuals.
Hitec Products is the self proclaimed biggest-little team of the women’s peloton.
But with three of the top six placed riders at last years World Championship road race in Elisa, Rachel Neylan and Rossella Ratto, seven of Norway’s top female road riders, Sweden’s time-trialling machine Emilia, and me, I think we’re more than capable of taking on the big guns, and Qatar proved it.
Watch out 2013.
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