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Emma Trott

Emma Trott moves to the Dutch Nederland Bloeit team in 2011.

A learning curve in Qatar

Emma Trott
February 05, 2011, 17:46 GMT,
February 05, 2011, 17:58 GMT

Heading home after team debut

After a not so great day yesterday I was determined to do a better ride today. If it meant only riding for the first half of the race, but doing a good job then so be it. One thing that has been hard for me so far is the team mentality. I have never ridden as a team, so to be told that its not important if I bail or get dropped, so long as I have done my job, is OK, is strange. It's about being professional, something that I am slowly getting use to. I have only ever ridden for results, but now it is all change. I am trying to learn very fast but have been told that this is my learning opportunity and if it takes 6 months or 1 year, then so be it, I will be a better rider because I wait. Waiting and being patient however is not something that I’m good at, so I’m going to have to learn that too!

I was tired from yesterday, so knew that doing an early job was crucial. I needed to empty myself early in the race because once the pace went up I was going to be a non-helper. So my job was riding at or near the front and covering moves. I did this for over half the race and then really started to suffer. There are only so many jumps and attacks you can follow before the legs really explode. My team like that I’m a fighter, I don’t give up, something which you can’t teach a bike rider. I was always there trying to cover moves and if I ended up too near the back I would try and get back up as quickly as possible. It’s only the first race of the year, what more could I have expected?

Heading home

So the race is over! It feels like I have only just arrived in Qatar, but tonight I am going home. It’s going to be a long day, although half has already gone. I won’t be getting back to England until 11.00 tomorrow morning and that’s after I get my connection flight from Paris. Traveling is something you just have to get used to as a bike rider because sometimes, there is a lot more traveling than actual riding!

These three days have been a big learning curve for me. OK, I have been riding for a long time but not at this level. I have learnt so much, the things that need improving are not major things but by getting better at these I will instantly improve as a bike rider. It’s a long season and one which I am sure will be successful. I can’t expect instant success at these things, but hey I wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t want to improve at 100mph!

The race itself however did not compare to the race after the race. We had to ride a lap of the crit course, but with a twist. Every rider from the women’s race and men’ s race had to do it. It was quite something seeing everyone together, but very cool. This is something that should happen more often with the men’s and women’s races being held either together or on similar days. We then basically all rode back to the hotel together, something which must have been quite cool to see. It was a very large group and on these roads where traffic is less than friendly, it was pretty cool!

So now I’m trying to pack to return home! I really can’t be asked if I’m honest, it’s not something that I enjoy doing, but in the last weeks it’s something that I have been doing a lot of!

Hopefully I can sleep on the plane, otherwise tomorrow I will be very tired!

Emma Trott's teammate, Dutch champion Loes Gunnewijk, made the winning break on stage2.

Wind, wind and more wind

Emma Trott
February 03, 2011, 18:39 GMT,
February 03, 2011, 18:48 GMT

Qatar has been quite a learning experience

So the second stage for me personally, should we say, was not great!

Okay, yesterday was a good start, but with very little wind it helped me massively. Imagine my joy when, walking down to breakfast this morning, I saw the trees being blown practically sideways. I think the best way to describe how I was feeling would be, I was dreading it! With my size and weight riding in crosswinds is something that, well, really does not suit me at all. So, as we set off today, the only thing I could think of was these dreaded crosswinds!

The three Dutch girls on our team, being more suited to these conditions, their mood was totally different from yesterday and they were ready to give it a bashing. I was just hoping to survive, last group would do me, as long as I did something early in the race.

Okay, I did as much as I could, but I'm not the kind of bike rider to be pleased with that. I helped my team, and the last thing our DS told us was that we are professionals and it’s all about riding for the team. If we get dropped after 1km but we got our leaders to the front, well then so be it! But this is something I'm going to have to get used to, thinking about the team and not me. There is no I in our team, we are a team of six, not just one!

Coming to Qatar has been a good experience so far. I'm learning, not just to be a better bike rider but also in terms of being a team player. This is something that I have never really learnt properly.

Coming to Qatar has also opened my eyes in terms of religion and all the things we in Europe do, but see as normal. Being a cyclist certain things have become normal: things like having a nature break behind a car or tree, not uncommon for men but something that many women would turn their noses up at, or changing in public, not completely stripping but having the aid of your towel. But here religious rules don't allow it, so us cyclists have to respect Islamic practice too.

The thing is how can you tell us we can't pee in public but not give us any toilets! In my opinion it’s no joke, if you're going to tell us not to at least put a solution in place. It’s the same for the changing - no changing in public but no alternative place to change. Myself and everyone involved with women’s cycling would abide, we are trying, if they gave us some alternatives, something which just has not happened thus far.

Don't get me wrong, today was not all bad! Loes, our team leader, had a solid ride today. When the chaos started she was in the right place and being pretty specialized in these types of races she also has the experience to get in the right moves.

When it came to the finish she was, well, pretty outnumbered by HTC and Garmin sadly, each with three girls. As well as being a solid bike rider she is also a solid leader. Not always our protected rider but a leader in calling the shots and helping riders, such as myself, to learn and develop. She has a wealth of experience, something which I am going to tap into whenever I get the opportunity.

This year for me is all about learning; riding as part of a unit but also to improve on things which are not so good, like riding at the front of bike races for longer, something which I have done this week. Having riders like Loes around is going to mean I will learn a lot and I can't wait.

Last day tomorrow, feels strange, we have only just got here!!

Emma Trott moves to the Dutch Nederland Bloeit team in 2011.

Starting the season in Qatar

Emma Trott
February 02, 2011, 23:26 GMT,
February 03, 2011, 18:05 GMT

Stage one gets underway amongst the camels

The 2011 season... has officially started!

Waking up this morning it felt like just another day... one difference, however; it was my first race of 2011. A new team, new clothes and for me, a new race! Amazingly I was feeling relatively calm and relaxed, ready for action and to do my job for the team.

Helmet? Check;
Shoes? Check;
Race numbers? Check;
Following the race convoy to the start...? Errr... not check!

It's amazing how you can get lost when in a race convoy! The sound of the race radio kicks in;

"The teams that have just turned left on the roundabout, please turn round you are going the wrong way."

I look at my sports director and ask; "Who's going the wrong way?" To my surprise the answer was, "Us!" Following the car in front should be simple but it's not so easy if the car in front manages to go wrong. It did make me laugh though.

That was about as entertaining as the journey got, however. Traffic in Qatar is well, worse than the M25 - who would have thought there was a road worse than the M25?

Well, since being in Qatar I had seen no camels or snacks, but today that all changed as the race started at a camel race track.

Racing camels... you should see it - absolutely hilarious. To be honest they are nothing special standing still, but racing them certainly is special. How the guy riding one of them doesn't end up being sick at the end is anyone's guess.

Up, down, up, down, like a jack in the box. For anyone who has ever tried horse racing, I think this is harder! But for us it was just a funny prelude to the real business - focusing on the first stage.

Not much happened in the race today. I did my job, everyone was happy. Massage, food and then bed. Even so it's a long day. So, today I will introduce one of my teammates, Sarah Düster.

Sarah has been known over the last few seasons as the girl who has no fear when it comes to corners and descending. She was also Kirsten Wild's lead out, so not a bad rider to have in the team.

So, what have I learnt from Sarah? A whole bunch of German (nothing that will ever be much use, except maybe occasionally), although there has been a lot of positive stuff too, but that's boring, no? I have also learnt that her personality is just as big as she is - well, she's tall, but tall personality sounds wrong!

She's a great laugh and the one-liners she comes out with are amazing. "I need air everywhere," she told me at the end of the stage; the jersey could not have been any further open... quite an eyeful!

Emma Trott moves to the Dutch Nederland Bloeit team in 2011.

Qatar calling

Emma Trott
February 01, 2011, 22:10 GMT,
February 01, 2011, 22:17 GMT

Emma excited to make Nederland Bloeit debut

Travel...and more travel

The last time I came to Eindhoven Airport it was my first team meeting back in December. I was nervous and quite apprehensive about meeting a new bunch of people, in a good way of course! I quickly realized that they were just like me however, two legs and two arms, and they were not going to bite! This time it was to start the long day of traveling to my first race of the year: the Ladies Tour of Qatar.

Now, many people think the life of a cyclist is quite glamorous, traveling the world seeing many wonderful sights and places, but you try telling my body that as the alarm went off at 4:15 this morning. I needed at least another four hours in bed but sadly for me that was not going to happen. Traveling is not fun at the best of times, but for me it’s just part of the job.

It is nice, however, when a flight goes smoothly and that is exactly how I would describe my first flight. I was even lucky enough to get talking to a student from Eindhoven who was returning from visiting friends in Brighton. Brighton at this time of year must have been mad. In fact Brighton at any time of year must be mad!

As I sit waiting for my lift to arrive to take me to our service course in Dongen I am looking forward to how ours compares to that of a pro men’s team. This is only the start of a long day but one which I am sure is going to have some tales to tell the time we land in Doha and eventually reach our beds!

Preparing for the second flight was crazy and it all started at check in. The race organizers organize our flights and hotels, meaning the team does not have to pay for such a long haul flight. At only six hours, it is not that long but long enough for me and I'm sure many of the other cyclists on board this flight.

The way that we were checked in was very similar to when I went to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games. With Qatar Airways being one of the sponsors of the race it is important that none of the luggage gets lost or left behind, and believe me, there is a lot of kit! All kit has been labeled with pink tags making it very easy to identify for the luggage handlers.

Brussels, Belgium to Doha, Qatar - Monday 31st January 2011, a new flight route added to the airport and lucky us we are on board. So, as I sit writing this, on my second flight of the day, how does it compare to any other flight? Well, before we boarded we got the choice of having free champagne, drinks and a choice of snack food. A free gift to welcome us to a new route but apart from that not a lot is different.

So now its time for me to sit back, continue to read the newspaper, and watch the extensive movies on offer. With only a couple of hours of the flight to go 2011 is literally just around the corner and I for one can't wait to get stuck in.

Welcome to Qatar

When it comes to immigration in Qatar I'm not sure what the laws are but I've never experienced anything like it.

To start with every booth is occupied by a woman dressed solely in black. I know this is traditional, but I guess when you're not used to seeing row upon row of women wearing burqas it’s almost disconcerting and definitely not a sight you see much on the women’s tour!

Then comes the fun part. You need a visa to enter Qatar which isn't different to most countries. So how do you get this visa? Well, I think you either smile nicely and they stamp your passport and let you in or they make a random decision and decide you have to pay. Half our team paid, the other half didn't. Good start in my opinion.

Then there’s the accommodation...

Next stop the hotel. How do you describe, what I have been told, is a seven star hotel? For me one word, and only one word describes the Ritz Carlton here in Doha...WOW! I have been completely blown away, I feel on holiday more and more, and to think I have come here to race.

Then there’s the riding...

How flat and how straight can one country be? In Qatar’s case, very! In nearly two and a half hours of cycling today I did a maximum of five corners, all of which were roundabouts.

In fact I lie, Qatar does have corners, but you have to be on board a plane in order to experience them. I think I did more circles and turns above Qatar last night as we waited to land than I'm going to be doing on my bike. I've just seen the road book for the race, tomorrow I have to deal with all of two corners. It looks like it’s going to be a long road to the finish :)

Then there’s the weather...

'Rain' and 'Qatar' - two words you would never put in the same sentence, well at least I wouldn't feel the need to use them together. But, today I had to eat those rained in Qatar, yes rained!

Riding along, you guessed it, a very straight road, I wondered why I was getting wet. I thought it was some joke from my teammates at the front with their bottles. So, about to open my mouth and have a dig back, I heard one of them say it’s raining. Before I had a chance to say anything we were all laughing about the fact that we left Europe for some sun and what do we get: rain!

OK, it was not a full-on, typically Belgian rain, but still, it was wet stuff coming from the sky. It was actually rather nice for a bit of cooling off with it being quite humid.

So tomorrow I start my 2011 adventure. New team, new clothing and for me a new race! Time to get some sleep and put my race head on, tomorrow the hard work begins.

Emma Trott

After spending two years with the Moving Ladies Team, 21-year-old Emma Trott steps up in 2011 having signed with the powerhouse Nederland Bloeit team, led by UCI number-one ranked rider Marianne Vos.

Trott put in a solid 2010 season, highlighted by a time trial victory in the Czech Republic's Gracia-Orlova stage race, where she bested future teammates Vos and Annemie Van Vleuten. Her season was soon interrupted, however, as she was one of five British national team riders hit by a car while training in Belgium.

Trott bounced back from her broken collarbone to place sixth in the elite women's British road nationals and later capture a British national time trial championship in the under-23 category.

Join the promising British rider as she takes on her first race with Nederland Bloeit: the Ladies Tour of Qatar.