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Elisa Longo Borghini

Elisa Longo Borgini at the Trofeo Binda

By:
Cycling News
Published:
April 02, 2014, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
May 12, 2014, 16:42 BST

Latest installment of the Hitec Products blog

The second World Cup of the year was Trofeo Alfredo Binda last Sunday in Cittiglio, next to Varese. It was won by Emma Johansson who outsprinted Lizzie Armitstead and Alena Amialiusik.

I ended sixth after a really good race, in my opinion. I attacked and tried hard but I messed up in the sprint (strange! Just kidding, I am better known for my climbing abilities) and I got boxed in. The team and staff worked really well for me giving me the best possibility to perform.

But today in this post I would prefer to write about what this race means for me than about the competition itself.

Trofeo Binda is among my favourite races on the calendar for many reasons; the lap and the organisation are nice and perfect, I won it last year, and – last but not least – it is the nearest race to my hometown so relatives and friends are all there to cheer me on.

Having someone you love watching you while racing is amazing. It makes you give that two per cent more effort that sometimes can make the difference.

On Sunday I had my mum, sister in law, and nieces at the GPM, my dad in the team car, and all the other relatives spread out on the lap. I often heard my oldest niece Anna shouting, "FORZA ZIA ELISA!" and this made me proud and glad.

As I said I didn't have only my family there but also some of my friends, especially the ones from my small, home town Ornavasso.

They founded a group called "Zampine Orna" (which literally translates as "Little paws from Ornavasso" but it would be too long and stupid to explain the reason why!) which supports the local volley-ball team that competes at the top level, the football team, and myself as a cyclist.

They were on the climb with flags and they were running behind me like fools (but aren't all crazy cycling fans like that?). I really had to concentrate to avoid laughing while racing!

They also gave stickers and t-shirts to some of the other riders both from Hitec and other teams including Ellen Van Dijk, Alena Amialiusik, Valentina Scandolara, Audrey Cordon, Giorgia Bronzini and a lot of others. Some of the girls even put the stickers on their helmets!

Now they are busy making a video from their day at Binda and they will publish it soon on their Facebook page.

Well, I know they are crazy... :-)

After these stories I hope you all can understand what Trofeo Binda is for me; not only a stunning race but also a day that my family and my friends make special!

Tone Hatteland Lima

Tone Hatteland in El Salvador

By:
Tone Hatteland Lima
Published:
March 26, 2014, 2:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 29, 2014, 18:14 BST

New instalement in Hitec Products riders blog

El Salvador "We're going to El Salvador! We're going to El Salvador!" This was the sound of joy from the Norwegian girls that got to travel to El Salvador to compete earlier this month for Hitec Products.

As we arrived at the airport in El Salvador, the blond group of Norwegian girls got the first shock; armed police & guards. Even the average man carried weapons. In Norway it's prohibited to carry weapons in the general public, even the police are not allowed to carry a gun. The second shock; we had to spend the first two nights in a beach house shared with the Russian team, Rusvelo. Our team was only given two rooms, so five of us girls had to squash into one room while the staff were in the other. Everybody that has slept in a room for five people knows how comfortable that can be...

While it wasn't the five star accommodation offered in Qatar, other than the cramped living quarters, the beach house was quite pleasant and offered all girls the third shock; the greatest horror, lizards, cockroaches and bats!

Arriving a few days early to acclimatise we completed two training sessions before the first race, the Grand Prix GSB. Starting at 7:30am each morning we tried to escape the worst heat. After all, we had come directly from the Norwegian winter. It was almost a forty degree temperature change.

In El Salvador they have a simple way to solve logistics, what doesn't fit side by side can be balanced on top of everything else. The first days our team had one truck which needed to fit eight people plus our driver. The back of the truck was used to transport bikes, wheels, luggage and...people.

Driving around was another thing altogether. It consisted of frequent changing of lanes and erratic passing of cars. Despite this, I was left questioning the technical skills of our driver; at points he had to have numerous attempts at hill starts and I caught him changing into second gear at 80km/h a few times. It got a little too thrilling for my taste!

Already on the first day the Hitec Products team made the front page of the newspaper, but not in the way we usually want to. The picture on the front page showed Cecilie [Johnsen] and Siri [Minge] in a crash; Cecilie took the hardest hit breaking her front wheel and bike frame and also suffering quite a lot of road rash. In terms of results there was not much to report home from the first race. The first three days of competition were category 1.1. The courses were held in different places but they were all identical. We started every stage with 70-80km transition into a finishing climb of 10-15km.

The safety of these competitions was the worst I have ever experienced through all of my years of competing. Trucks and buses would pass the peloton at the same time as the road was open to oncoming traffic. No arrows or signs marked the route, but every now and then there would be a guard showing directions. But it wasn't the identical one-day races or the open roads that were the biggest problem for us. After the first three days all four girls competing got food poisoning. As if food poisoning is not bad enough itself, it didn't feel any better in 40 degrees.

After the first three one day races in El Salvador was the stage race, Vuelta El A Salvador, which started with a 4km prologue. Still suffering from food poisoning our form in the morning advised us not to start, but we decided that we had traveled so far and we wanted to give it a try. We finished the prologue through easy riding and hoped to feel better on the second day.

The stage race didn't turn out to be what we hoped for in results. The stomach trouble, and not to forget the heat, was too severe for us. In addition, when five out of six courses favoured the climbers, we didn't have a strong enough team to get the results we wanted.

On our last day of racing we experienced an upswing as Cecilie finished in sixth place.

To sum up, it was exciting and eventful to race in El Salvador. The organiser did a good effort considering the challenges they had with the road standards and traffic. Although I have to admit that in many of the races I felt like I was racing with my life at stake.

Audrey Cordon

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Blog - Audrey Cordon

By:
Audrey Cordon
Published:
March 04, 2014, 23:30 GMT,
Updated:
March 05, 2014, 0:26 GMT

Hitec Products rider blog

There are days where nothing can get in your way. You are given a mission and nobody can stop you. Saturday's edition of Het Niuewsblad was one of these days.

The plan for our Hitec Products team was clear. We have one of the best riders in the women's peloton on our team, Elisa Longo Borghini and we were all ready to work for her until we could do more.

Knowing the plan made things are simple. For us the first 60kms were irrelevant, except perhaps to just avoid all the crashes in the peloton! I found myself involved in crashes twice, as a gift they gave me a good burn behind the right knee.

But despite that it was important to keep a cool head, as Marc (Bracke) our DS says, "frustration is a waste of energy."

Things started to get serious after the 62km mark with the Côte de Trieu (a steep paved climb). The peloton split and we ended up with a group of 20 at the front; with Elisa, Ashleigh Moolman and I making it for Hitec.

But the race kicked again immediately after the Côte de Trieu with the Paterberg (a nasty cobbled climb). A crash forced Elisa to stop at the base while four women went 'spinning' off the front (Emma Johansson, Amy Pieters, Lizzie Armitstead, one dropped later).

After waiting for our team leader Ashleigh and I set out to chase until the first cobbled section (Karel Martelstraat). We kept the gap close but it wasn't enough. We were the only team to really try and close the gap down as Orica, Boels-Dolmans and Giant Shimano had riders ahead and everyone else seemed scared to take Wild (Giant Shimano) to the line...

Our group of 20 were always very close to the break, never more than two minutes. Unfortunately, we lost Elisa to another crash on Karel Martelstraat so we had to change the plan on the road; I had to protect Ash who was the fastest of us in the sprint.

Ash followed an attack by Rabo/Liv's Annemiek van Vleuten and they tried to bridge to the leading group but they couldn't quite get there and the chasing group caught them a little more than 20kms to go.

And so begun my job of covering all attacks during the last 20kms. Rabo/Liv didn't want to sprint with the super sprinter Kirsten Wild always present in the chase group so they attacked relentlessly without success until 3kms to go.

In the end our chase group had to settle for sprinting for fourth place, less than 10 seconds behind the first three. Ashleigh finished eighth and I finished 22nd.

Pieters out sprinted Johansson and Armitstead to claim victory.

Personally I'm very satisfied with my feelings and my race, I tried to be there for the team and do my best. Even if the result is not up to our expectations we were able to ride as a team and challenge the 'big' teams like Rabo/Liv and Boels-Dolmans and this is a good thing for the future.

Added to this was the perfect work of our team staff Juan, Didier and Kristof. Without them nothing would be possible.

I thought I had lost a family changing teams from Vienne Futuroscope to Hitec at the end of last year after six years with the French squad. But I'm happy to have found another one in Hitec Products.

Hitec Products Julie Leth

Julie Leth on balancing the track and road

By:
Julie Leth
Published:
February 24, 2014, 23:00 GMT,
Updated:
February 24, 2014, 23:19 GMT

Hitec Products rider blog

Living in Denmark, track riding is a good supplement to the dark, wet, and cold road rides of winter. I live three hours from the only indoor track in Denmark, which can be really annoying. Most of my track training this winter however, has been with the National Team and in training blocks that we've had before the World Cups, so I haven't had that many transport days this winter. When I was younger though we usually went to the track in Ballerup once a week. In that way, the track has always been something to look forward to, the bright spot in the dark cold winter – my weekly escape from the cold.

I absolutely love racing the track, which means I sometimes try to persuade my teammates into doing it. In the lead up to the Road Worlds in Florence last year, I desperately tried to teach my former teammate Emilia Fahlin to do a Madison sling (mostly because I wanted her to give me a good sling up those hills), but unfortunately I didn't have any success with that project.

I know my new Hitec Products teammate, Sara Olsson has been doing some track, and I also saw some sneaky pictures of Ashleigh Moolamn cruising around on the track. What's more, Thea Thorsen claimed on training camp that she could "crush" me on the track so who knows? We might soon have our own Hitec Products team pursuit team.

Not everyone on the team seems to share my love of the track, however. After missing a fair bit of the season last year due to a crash our Italian climber, Elisa Longo Borghini decided to do some track training over the winter. I soon discovered she wasn't as fond of the track as me.

When she first got on the track – like everybody else – she was scared to death so decided to just keep going faster. She told me that the rest of the Italian National team was doing a warm-up behind the derny but she was still lapping them.

Then she thought the breaks between efforts were way too long and couldn't see the point in just sitting around. Instead she spent a solid five hours on the rollers when she wasn't on the track. I guess she isn't going to be in the Hitec Products team pursuit team. But enough about that …

After not having done much track since I was junior, the Danish Federation gave me the opportunity to do some Points Score races over the winter. It was an offer I couldn't say ‘No' to.

I didn't have any particular reason for going back to riding around in circles on a single speed bike other than I really missed it. But coming back on the track almost felt like coming home.

One issue with juggling road and track is that you don't really get a break. I had one week off the bike after the Road Worlds in Florence and will be going from the track straight onto the road again after I finish competing in Cali next week.

Obviously, this is a thing to consider. The season is long, and I guess my team managers could be a bit concerned about the fact that I might be very tired – both mentally and physically – already in the beginning of the road season. But hopefully this will not be the case!

Luckily for me both Karl Lima (our team manager) and Marc Bracke (our team director) have been very supportive, even though I will be missing the first few spring races.

So why Points Race? The answer is pretty simple, since it's mainly because it's my favourite event. I love the speed and the tactical aspect of the race. Whoever comes away with the win has to not only be strong but also smart and have a good grasp of the race. You can't just sit around and wait for the sprint.

For me the track is a way to keep motivated and focussed throughout the winter, but first and foremost, it's a part of my development as a rider. Still being very young that's my main goal; being as good as I can be, both for myself but also for my teammates.

I think I can benefit a lot from this winter of track racing. The track gives me a lot of speed and skills that I hope to be able to bring with me onto the road. I hope that this in the end will make me a better and more complete rider.

Next up for me is Cali, Columbia, and a race for one of those rainbow jerseys.

Today I had my last track session in Denmark, and I'm now looking forward to some good recovery days. It is hard to say what I expect, but I want to be part of creating a good and exciting Points Race.

Not having done many international Points Races it is hard to know where to place myself, but I'm quite confident and believe that on a good day (and with a fair share of luck), anything is possible.

I'm really excited, and can't way to start racing!

The 2014 Hitec Products team during the Benidorm training camp

Insight into the Ladies Tour of Qatar

By:
Lauren Kitchen
Published:
February 11, 2014, 22:30 GMT,
Updated:
April 09, 2014, 15:54 BST

Lauren Kitchen on her debut race for Hitec Products

The Ladies Tour of Qatar was the first race for the 2014 season and my first race with the Hitec Products women’s team. However, it was my sixth time to the desert state and was definitely one to remember.

The race offers a fantastic environment to begin the season, with warm weather perfect for racing, a fabulous five star hotel – the Ritz Carlton – and some of the toughest conditions for flat racing in the world; that being strong winds that can blow the bunch apart in just a couple of kilometres.

This year my Hitec Products team – led by Chloe Hosking – had the opportunity to meet and give advice to the new Qatar women’s cycling team. During our pre-race day training we met with 22 young women, aged between 14 and 25, who are making history for their country by riding a bike.

The Qatar women’s cycling project has only existed for three months and while we were initially nervous to ride with an inexperienced group we were all very impressed with their skills and strength and were left wondering how far they will come in the following year.

Their goal is to have a team ready for the Qatar World Championships in 2016 and with a recently retired pro rider, Pia Sundstedt from Finland, leading the charge plus the support of the affluent Qatari sports academy anything seems possible.

On our final evening we were invited into the home of one of the athletes of the new team for a tea party. This was an eye opening and truly memorable experience; being in an Islamic home and learning about the differences in culture was something I’d definitely not had the opportunity to experience on my five previous visits to Qatar.

Yes, the race through the desert has been the start of my season since I began cycling at the elite level in 2009. Having been part of every edition of the race so far I have seen the race grow from a luxury desert adventure into one of the most prestigious Tours of the early season calendar.

The crosswinds prove to be unforgiving and it’s a case of if you miss the echelon you most likely won't see the front of the race again that day. This results in chaos when the peloton approaches a corner; every rider knows they have to be one of the first few through the turn just in case the wind changes so they have a fighting chance to make that elite group which goes on to fight for the stage honours.

More often than not, the strongest girls finish at the front. There is nowhere to hide and no free rides. While hard, the race provides a perfect opportunity to see exactly where everyone is at and how much work has to be done before the spring Classics begin in a few weeks' time.

Run by the ASO and held only a couple of days before the men’s Tour begins the Tour is very important for the development of women’s cycling. Live television coverage which can be streamed worldwide offers cycling fans the rare opportunity to witness just how exciting 100 kilometre races can be. What's more, many media outlets send press over a few days early so they can cover both the women’s and men’s races.

We all know the opportunities to showcase women’s racing are few and far between and the Ladies Tour of Qatar is at the forefront of showing how it can be done, and well.

Interest in and coverage of women’s cycling, however, is growing and the exciting new race ‘La Course’ by Le Tour to be run in Paris on the final day of the Tour de France shows the belief and growth potential the ASO see in our sport. I’m very excited to be seeing the change in women’s professional cycling and look forward to experiencing the Champs-Élysées in July with the women now part of the biggest annual sporting event in the world.

Ashleigh Moolman in her South African national champions jersey

Ashleigh Moolman's take on Hitec's Benidorm training camp

By:
Ashleigh Moolman
Published:
February 04, 2014, 0:04 GMT,
Updated:
April 09, 2014, 15:53 BST

Hitec Products rider blog

I have just completed my first training camp with my new team, Hitec Products. This training camp symbolised the coming together of a multi national team. Although the team is a Norwegian sponsored team and consists of majority Norwegian girls, this year Team Hitec Products consists of 13 riders from 7 different countries, and 3 continents.

As a new comer to the team, I was completely blown away by the friendliness and very warm welcome I received from the girls and staff. I have only spent one week with the team, and I already feel I have been part of the family forever. We have a great mix of girls on Hitec this year – we all have something different to bring to the team and together, I'm positive we will have a great season in 2014!

Under the direction of Marc Bracke, one of the new team directors for Hitec Products, there was a very strong theme to our camp - and that was teamwork! Cycling is of course a team sport, and the most important task of a team director is to bring the team together. Marc, together with the other staff members did a great job of this, which made our camp particularly special.

Coming Together
After everyone had arrived from their different destinations, the first team activity was an orientation ride along the beautiful Spainish coastline towards Calp. We were treated to fantastic, warm, sunny weather and this ride was a great opportunity for us all to get to know each other better and to feel out our new Scott Foil race bikes (which are absolutely amazing by the way!)

Outside our comfort zone
A highlight of our camp was our team photo shoot on the beach on our first rest day. This was a great icebreaker and team building experience, as some of us found ourselves somewhat outside of our comfort zones. The wind picked up and with that, our hair blew everywhere, but somehow we all managed to stay cool, calm and collected! Through sharing jokes and encouraging one another, soon we all became naturals in front of the camera and we found ourselves having an absolute blast ;)

Staying Together
Three days into the camp and we were thrown a slight curve ball. The weather changed and our longest ride of the camp was scheduled for the day with the strongest wind and coldest conditions.

Nonetheless, we set off on our six-hour ride regardless of the weather conditions. This was a great opportunity for the team to learn to start working together. It was just amazing to see how we all really stuck together on the day, supporting and encouraging one another.

Through perseverance and a little bit of patience, we all had a great day on the bike. And of course the beautiful scenery along the way, the great company and our warm Doltcini cycling kit made all the hard work and surviving the cold that much easier in the end.

Working Together
Our camp ended off with a rather unusual test of teamwork. As a final send off, we were treated to a team dinner at an all you can eat sushi restaurant in Benidorm town. We quickly realised that all you can eat is not the best idea after a long, hard week of training!

As it turns out, our eyes were way to big for our stomachs and finishing what we ordered was a true test of teamwork (especially due to the fact that we would be fined for any food left over )

Our week in Benidorm, Spain was a great start to the year for Team Hitec Products! The beautiful, but tough cycling routes, along stunning coastline and up some great mountains provided an ideal environment for hard training and team bonding. We had a wonderful time together and many happy memories and strong bonds were formed.

Next up for the team is Qatar to kick off the 2014 race season (Ladies Tour of Qatar) and I'm on my way back to South Africa to take part in my national championships this week.

Until next time - adios amigos

 

Author
Team Hitec Products UCK

Follow Chloe Hosking and her Hitec Products UCK teammates, as they race through their second season.