Hitec Products rider blog
Melanie Hessling (Nutrixxion Abus) leads Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products) at the front of the break
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Last week I did Holland Ladies Tour for the first time. I had heard that the Ladies Tour was one week of crazy Dutch racing and that another name for it could be ‘the Tour of Crashes.’
I started to do some extra core sessions the weeks before (I didn’t want to come home with a broken collarbone) and prepared myself for a tough week with crosswinds, dijks and fast sprint finales. As I am a sprinter this suited me perfectly. I was looking forward to finally doing this stage race and my form was good.
We, Team Hitec Products, came to the race with a strong team. I knew that if we raced well together we would be able to achieve good results. The team confirmed that in the end of the week by winning stage five and getting on the podium on the fourth stage. Throughout the Tour we progressed nicely as a team and I learned a lot both on and off the bike.
The first stage was hectic; six sections of cobbles and one gravel section that made the race exciting when the wind failed. When we entered the gravel section it sounded like a war out there. 12 flat tires in 2,5 km. After this the peloton split in to many groups but in the end it was a bunch sprint.
Argos took the lead into the final and we didn’t manage to put up a lead out train for Chloe Hosking. Wild won and Chloe sprinted to a top 10. This was not good enough, we needed to improve our lead out before the next sprint finale.
The second stage was a 32 km TTT and Specialized-Lululemon did an impressive fast race...again. We finished ninth but made the most of the race with only four-five riders.
On stage three we rode directly up onto the dijks which Holland is famous for. After 20 km some riders started to go fast in the front and I knew I had to be in it. I managed to join them and it was easier than suffering in the wind behind it. After some kilometres it broke up the peloton but the wind just wasn’t strong enough and we were all together again. I was a little disappointed when Chloe and I had gotten ourselves into the first select group.
Later Annemek Van Vleuten (Rabo Liv/Giant) did an impressive 40 km solo break but was caught back right before the finish. I found Chloe in the bunch and took her up to a top 10 position before the last corner. I should have gone all the way to the front, because the last corner was so close to the finish. We both finished top 10. Progress: I had Chloe on my wheel the last 3 km, but my lead out was too short.
The fourth stage in Papendrecht started fast and a small break of two girls established on the first lap. We all tried at least one time to bridge over to the break and Emilia was close, but didn’t quite make it.
The next laps it was periods with attacks and action and periods where nothing happened. On one of the last laps a little pony horse wanted to join us and made some movement in the peloton which seemed to wake us all up.
On the last lap of 26 km with the gap to the two leaders sneaking above two minutes Specialized-lululemon chased the gap down to one minute, but we never caught the break of two.
As we came close to the finish Chloe asked me if I wanted to sprint today. I felt good and took that opportunity straight away. She took me to the front and gave all she had the last kilometre.
I sat on Shelly Olds (Tibco to the Top) wheel and somehow managed to get in between her and Wild in the last corner. With 250 meters to the finish line I suddenly saw the opportunity to get on today’s podium and it gave me an extra kick. I passed Shelly 100 meters before the line and won the bunch kick.
Winning that sprint made me so excited that I raised my hands to celebrate. I know it was “just” a third place, but it made me so happy! It was the first time I finished on a UCI podium this year and absolutely first time winning a sprint against big stars like Olds and Wild.
The first part of my season wasn’t the best and I really needed this one now. It gave me confidence as a sprinter and it was also a good experience to see how Chloe did the lead out. It was pretty cool that we now could ride a finale together with success.
The fifth stage was a fast and hard stage with lots of attacks. Several times the peloton was broken up in parts because of aggressive riding, but again it ended in a bunch sprint.
Emilia and Julie covered all the attacks in the end and with 2 km to go Chloe and I sat on the Argos-train. The last 1,7 km was a straight road to the finish line with crosswinds from the right.
With 1,5 km to the finish I went out on the right, kept Chloe on the left, sprinted as fast as I could in the wind and placed her on Kirsten Wild’s wheel...
Then I died on my bike and dropped through the peloton like a stone in water. I have always been annoyed when “ lead out girls” drop through the peloton like a parked car when the sprints starts, but now I was that girl. When I rode (or rolled) over the finish line and saw Chloe celebrate I was so proud of her and us, the whole team. We won a stage in Holland Ladies tour and we did it because we rode a great race together. Yesterday Chloe helped me and today I was able to pull the sprint for her, amazing team feeling! That evening we celebrated the team’s first ever victory in Holland Ladies Tour with a delicious cake on the team meeting. Oh yes, we deserved those calories.
The last day of Holland Ladies Tour is always something special. You do five flat stages and then the last stage has all the climbs that exist in Holland. One thing is for sure, the last stage is the only stage in this tour that will never end in a bunch sprint.
Our team manager told me it would be good if I tried to get into a break before the first climb and that would be before 6 km… All right I said and jumped on the first attack approximately after 1 km. Did my job there, but we were caught back and then it was a freaky hard race to the finish line.
We did 15 climbs with Eyserbosweg, Kruishoeveweg and Doodeman all on the menu. The Cauberg becomes a “nice climb” after you have done them. Julie and Emilia were both close to getting into the breakaway but we all ended up in the peloton. Emilia had some power left in her legs and finished second in the uphill sprint.
I had a great week in Holland and it was nice to go home with a podium place and to have been a part of a victory. I am also happy that all that crashing and fighting I expected didn’t happen. The atmosphere in the team was great and we also had a good staff; A team manager, who takes the car out to the course the day before, makes notes and shows us videos of important sections; A soigneur that makes delicious pocketfood, makes our tired legs feels better and serves us all the day; and a mechanic that checks the bikes and make jokes most of the time. We also have some great supporters that follow us with their camper anywhere we go in Belgium and Holland. It makes the team happy and this week we had fun. As a team we rode well and the feeling when your teammate says, “You did a great job today, thanks” – that’s the best moment of any cycling race.
- Team Hitec Products UCK
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