Czech Republic, May 5, 2006
Well, as most of you probably know by this point if you follow the T-Mobile women, Judith DID end up winning the Gracia-Orlova Czech tour. And she won three stages in the process, along with a field sprint win for second place in the final stage. I think the girl is ready for the 10-day Tour de l'Aude. And so is her team. Judith is honestly one of the greatest competitors I know. She always seems so calm, never cocky or over-confident. Shes a very genuine, honest, good person and an amazing athlete. And she makes me want to be super dometique! I love my role on this team, I honestly do. The rewards are huge and the joy of winning is so worth it.
Perhaps the toughest day of the Tour for everyone was the double day on Saturday. The distances were not long, but it was cold and rainy all day. Our first stage began in Orlova just outside our hotel. I cant remember the last time I started a race with absolutely no warm up. We sat in the car until 15 minutes before the start and then went straight to the line. The stage was 74km long and crossed into Poland, which was cool. But its not like we could see much with all the rain coming down. Everyone was shivering and freezing at the finish, and all the girls headed straight for the showers: over a hundred wet, muddy girls and four showers. That was a sight to see!
We had four hours until the time trial that afternoon. Andrzejs brother, Yarek, who lives in Poland, had come to help us with the race. He somehow found a hotel near the start of the tt and got us a room so that we could relax and stretch and not be cramped in the cars avoiding the rain. It was great! It really must have helped Judith, because she went on to win the time trial. She is on a roll!
The final day was a 6-lap 16km circuit race and although it was raining again, it was simply misting, not coming down in sheets. So I can handle that. It was a really hard race with Amy, Kim, Christina, and I trying to cover and get into breaks, protecting Judiths lead over Amber Neben and Nicole Brandli. Whenever I saw Amy and Kim at the front and noticed that I was drifting back, they motivated me to get my ass back up there. They later told me it was the same for them. Its nice to know were each others support system. And through the whole thing, theres Judith, calmly asking me if I need anything, telling me good job. And then she goes on to win the field sprint at the end. I like this chick!
After the race, the team was going to their respective homes in a myriad of ways. Two Americans and a Canadian were heading to Prague. We had a hotel reservation there for the night. But on our drive there, the rain was really coming down. There was no reason to stay in the city if it was raining, so we called and cancelled our hotel. But then of course, as we finally neared Prague, it was like the heavens opening up. The sun came out and the city looked beautiful. Our trusty navigation system took us right into the heart of the city and we spent a few hours walking along the Charles Bridge and through the main city square. I think Prague is one of the most beautiful cities Ive ever seen. But by about 9pm, we were ready to get in the car again and drive until we crossed the border into Germany. It just felt better to sleep near home.
Now weve got a few days at home to rest, recover, and pack up for our next adventure. We head to Spain on Friday for Sundays world cup. Then we drive to France to begin the Tour de lAude. And THEN I go home to see my husband - I can't wait.