- Eva Lutz
April 27, 2009, 8:52 BST,
June 06, 2009, 9:56 BST
The Mur de Huy played a large role in Lutz' life this week, as she wondered whether the team bus would make it all the way up and later took captain Amber Neben to the foot of the climb
The Mur de Huy played a large role in Lutz' life this week, as she wondered whether the team bus would make it all the way up and later took captain Amber Neben to the foot of the climb.
Here we are again in Belgium. Right now we aren't seeing its best side: everything is built up, lots of industry and traffic. You can barely see anything green.
Tuesday afternoon we went to the team presentation in Huy, which will be the start and finish for us women. On the marketplace we jump on the stage as a team. Accompanied by a live band we wave nicely to the crowds and then we may go home. No, wait! We have something else to do! Lotte (Charlotte Becker) is here for the first time. She only knows the Mur de Huy from hearsay. So we make a short detour. Will the bus even be able to make it all the way up? You can almost hear our soigneur Gerben's heart thumping away as the bus goes up the up-to 23 percent steep street The Mur looks pretty impressive...
At 11 o'clock the next day we drive through the city in the direction of the start. In Huy we ride by the marketplace, and the people look at our auto convoy with curiosity. An odd feeling. A race in the middle of the week. Tension, excitement and concentration within the bus, while outside the normal life is taking place.
The closer we come to the start/finish, the more fans we see along the way and the more difficult it is to get through. We have barely parked before we are thronged by fans.
Who wants to win today must be very clever - and very good! Every bit of strength you lose along the way will cost seconds on the Mur!
Somehow my legs feel very tense today. Usually I am a little nervous and my heart races. What is different today? We forgot to play my favourite song at top volume on the team bus. Lotte never wants to hear it, because it then stays in her head the whole race. I pull it up in my memory and hum it to myself "El Kilo" by the Orishas. That helps!
Our tactic is to ride offensively. Trixi (Worrack) attacks on the first climb. That forces the hands of the rest of those who want to win. As the race goes on we make our final decision: we will ride for Amber (Neben). We jump into groups. Lead the way. Close the gaps. We work well together - this is fun!
The finale! The peloton is getting faster and faster... and smaller... we are approaching Huy! I look for Amber and take her with me. Somehow I have to bring her forward through this confusion.
We approach the Mur at the head of the field. The road begins to climb. My legs are burning. I want to bring Amber even further - and just a bit more...
Then the race is over for me. My work is done, it is up to Amber now.
Trixi passes me. I would just as soon climb down and walk the rest of the way, but she "convinces" me to accompany her to the finish. Side by side we make our way up and hope that Amber is first over the finish line.
In the end she finishes fourth.
This weekend we will ride before our home fans at a Bundesliga race in Karbach, to be followed by a stage race in the Czech Republic. The next World Cup race is May 10 in Bern.
- Eva Lutz
April 16, 2009, 8:35 BST,
June 11, 2009, 3:42 BST
Lutz continued her series of top ten finishes with a sixth place in the Ronde van Drenthe, after a boring Easter Sunday.
We have been living in a nice hotel in a small Dutch village for a week now. So that we didn't get cabin fever, we took part in a "Wielerwedstrijd" on Friday and Saturday. Trixi (Worrck) and Regina (Schleicher) both took a second place. Easter Sunday we had free. Unfortunately I didn't find anyone to join me in an Easter Egg hunt...
In the evenings I am so bored from doing nothing that I can't sleep. I invited myself to go watch a film with Simone. She is a soigneur for Team Bigla but welcomed me anyway. Our soigneur Sabrina brought a bottle of wine and we watched a DVD.
Monday morning we stood together with 120 other girls in a dark factory hall. The doors were closed, which is good because it was cold outside! We still had 20 minutes. Exactly enough to eat a "Silberling" – Sabrina makes these for us before every race: sweet bread with jelly, cream cheese and banana, wrapped up in aluminum foil, which make is silver. After all, today is the longest World Cup race, it is 140 km to survive.
Shortly after 11 the doors open and a little light comes in. The screen is pushed aside and we start on our way.
In the beginning there is a little time to chat with the other girls. But the fight for position starts at km 30. Just a few more kilometres until the first cobblestones. It is nothing more than a forest path with a lot of stones on it. In between are a lot of holes, or even just sand. The peloton goes through the forest single file. I keep trying the side of the path, but there are a lot of branches down and even more holes, plus the girl in front of me isn't doing so well. So I would rather hop around on the cobbles.
Bottles fly around and we ride over them. Gaps form constantly in the group. A lot of tires go flat. But we are well outfitted with our aluminium wheels and 25 mm tires and all of us are in the first group when we leave the cobbles.
Now we are facing the Mullberg. The hill is not 500 meters long and it is not really the 23% gradient that is the problem. The worst is that on the way up only two bikes fit alongside each other and it always turns into a real traffic jam....
The constant attacks continue. My legs are starting to hurt! One more time over the hill. Six of us approach the finish line, 15 seconds ahead of the field. We are not really co-ordinated but manage to hold our lead to the end.
And when I finally get home at some time, then I will practice sprinting with my training mates!
- Cycling News
April 09, 2009, 0:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:16 BST
The women's Ronde van Vlaanderen was the second race on the women's World Cup circuit, featuring...
April 9, 2009
When does the sun shine in Belgium?!?
The women's Ronde van Vlaanderen was the second race on the women's World Cup circuit, featuring fog, rice cake and cobblestones. Eva Lutz reports on falling and getting back up to keep on going.
Somehow the Belgians must have forgotten to pay a bill or something – I can't think of any other reason why the sun never shines here. On our way to the start the fog was so thick that you could barely see 100 metres ahead! Our friends at home were sitting on their patios eating breakfast in the sun, and we stood at the starting line and froze...
Nobody gave us any chocolate this time, but our press spokesman "Flocki" (Stephan Flock) had given us some of the delicious Belgian rice cake in the bus. Even if the sun doesn't shine, that cake is worth the trip to Flanders!
The Molenberg, came 25 kilometres after the start. If you are 30th back, you may as well climb off and push your bike up, it's that crowded. Right in front of me, two girls ran into each other. I "stumbled" over the bikes lying on the ground and did a somersault. Nina (Christina Becker) waited for me.
Now I only had to get up..... But where is my bike? I pull one out of the mass and think, blue?!? Did we have a blue stripe? No, I think my "Rennkeva" looks different.... I put that bike aside and with the next grab I have my Fuji. No damage at all. Wiesy (our mechanic) gave me a push and on Nina's rear wheel, we work our way up through the auto caravan. We made it, all back together in the field!
Groups of fans stood around everywhere. They cheered us on, there is music, noise, signs. Somewhere I even heard my own name. Yes, it was fun to ride here! Even when I knew that this party is really only because of the men's race.
The main field stayed together as it approached the Muur van Geraardsbergen, 16 km before the finish. 475 metres long, up to 20% gradient and totally covered with cobblestones, this was the decision maker. Tight together, we were watched by the fans as we worked our way up. I could barely hear them yelling as I was fighting with my bike and my legs. When I stood up, my rear wheel jumped over the cobbles, but somehow I fought my way to the top.
We were a group of 20 racers at the finish, including lots of sprinters. That's not so much my thing...
Next week I will be back after the Keienstrook in Drenthe – the cobblestone Classic for women.
Until then many greetings from
- Cycling News
April 01, 2009, 0:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:16 BST
There are two important reasons why I made sure the World Cup opener in Varese was on my race...
April 2, 2009
The Trofeo Alfredo Binda was the first race in the women's 2009 World Cup circuit, and cold, rainy weather didn't make things easy. The riders all sought their own ways to keep warm, and Lutz reports on dancing cyclists and chocolate.
There are two important reasons why I made sure the World Cup opener in Varese was on my race calendar this year:
1.Last year they presented every rider with a half kilo Lindt chocolate Easter Egg!
2. In Italy it is warm and the sun shine – even in March!
That with the chocolate happened again this year, but the weather....
Race day was 6° C and rainy on Sunday. On the team bus we all sought the right race clothing. Everyone has their own tactic against water and cold. One pulls thin plastic gloves on her hands, the other puts them on her shoes – I decided to eat a chocolate bar! Then I put a CD from our soigneur Sabrina Sonnenschein on the player. The Bacardi song! We turn it up full blast, open the door and dance on the seats. By now even our Dutch rider Suzanne de Goede knows the words. JoDo (our Directeur Sportif Jochen Dornbusch) runs by us laughing, "Help! My girls have gone crazy!"
The song stayed with me the entire race. Shivering with the cold, I worked my way through the field and sang to myself, "come on over, have some fun, dancing in the morning sun...." I was having problems getting into the big ring after the first climb. I reach over the handlebars with my right hand and pull on the left gear level. After a few tries it works fine!
Don't forget to eat! That can be decisive today. I feel for my gel, but my left arm is so cold, it doesn't listen to me. Somehow I manage to get all the gel in my mouth, though.
On the next to last climb, the decision in the race falls. Marianne Vos and Emma Johannson go over the top followed by Kristin Armstrong and ... me. Over the last 25 kms I convince my legs to hold out just a bit longer. We can't catch up to the two leaders, but the podium is still very close. The last traffic circle, only 250 uphill meters to go.
I attack. After 100 meters my legs want to die. Against their will I convince them to go on. Something red appears on my right. Just a few more meters! On the finish line Armstrong pushes her front wheel ahead of mine....
On the bus, Sabrine had to help us undress so that we can head home to Germany. At least it is warmer there!
Next week we will all meet again to ride together over Belgium's hellinge and cobblestones. The Ronde van Vlaanderen – the famous Tour of Flanders – is the next race on the schedule.
A lot of fans don't seem to know that there is also a race for women! An absolute highlight! The fans there are the best, we really look forward every year to the Ronde!
It doesn't matter whether it is hot or cold. And there won't be any chocolate there, but I'll ride it anyway!
- Eva Lutz diary
Eva Lutz is a fiery German who rides for Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. She is off to her best season start ever, having won the second stage of the Ladies' Tour of Qatar, and bringing in third and fourth places respectively in the Gran Premio Brissago - Lago Maggiore and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. In her spare time, Lutz is studying for an advanced degree in mechanical engineering. This year she has shed the bright red dreadlocks for which she became known, going back to her natural brown curls. She will share her unique view of women's professional cycling with us over the season.