The day before Lex Albrecht (BePink) landed in San Francisco for the Amgen Women's Tour of California the Canadian rider received word from her Italian team that she would need to find a ride from San Francisco Airport to Lake Tahoe. The team had gone ahead so Albrecht took to Twitter to make things happen.
Chicago sports photographer Ethan Glading, who was also on his way to cover the first US Women's WorldTour event, was landing around the same time and responded that he could help. Albrecht made it to South Lake Tahoe and finished 17th in the hard first stage.
Albrecht is several months into her first year on a European team. She brushed off the hiccup in her travel plans as part of the process.
"That's part of bike racing, you figure out how to make things happen," Albrecht said. "It's cool the cycling community is so tight. Even though we don't necessarily know each other super well or personally we all know end up in the same position at some point."
Albrecht's team set her up with lodging in the Bergamo region of northern Italy, and she's spent time getting used to the little differences of the European peloton.
"We do super long drives to get to all the races," Albrecht said. "I was a little bit apprehensive about that but I actually prefer it. There are no security lines, we and stop for coffee breaks. The Italians do that a lot which I like. That's something we definitely see eye to eye on, coffee."
Albrecht started racing in February at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where she finished 48th. Her schedule for the next several months was filled with Women's WorldTour and UCI 1.2 races. March was rough for Albrecht and the 29-year-old Canadian suffered through several crashes, a minor concussion, and mechanicals through her first block of racing. Albrecht began to find her footing in April and finished her first Women's WorldTour race at the Tour of Flanders.
"There have been some ups and downs," Albrecht said. "There was a little bit of bad luck at the beginning of the season. Other races went super well. It's my first time doing all of the spring races in Europe, that was something I knew I definitely needed to do as an athlete, and I'm happy I was able to do that. It is an essential stepping stone in my career."
Albrecht's breakthrough came at La Flèche Wallonne Feminine where she made it into the early breakaway and won the Queen of the Mountain competition. Albrecht was the first over all the classified climbs and was awarded 300 Euros for her efforts.
"Flèche was definitely a really good discovery for me," Albrecht said. "I had never raced Flèche before and I definitely really liked the course. Some of the races with a lot more cobbles were a challenge for me. I'm not as much of a powerhouse over those tough bumpy sections as I am in the pitchy climbs."
Albrecht returned to her home in Montreal after a three month block of European racing. Albrecht, who is on the Canadian Olympic road racing long team, used the down time before the Tour of California to recharge and get ready for her next series of races. Albrecht is looking to put in a good showing at Winston-Salem, Canadian nationals, and the Philly International Classic to earn an Olympic spot.
Despite a few bumps along the way Albrecht is focused on Rio Olympics, and feels her progress this year is enough to keep her racing beyond 2016.
"I'm really happy to have the opportunity to race all the Women's WorldTour races on the calendar, and to be based in Italy," Albrecht said. "Its taken a little bit of adaptation, culturally and just how the teams are run, but it is a really excellent experience. I'm really happy for it. It is exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I need as an athlete.
"When I first started my career I told myself to put my head down until 2016 and not second guess myself in my decision to become a full time professional cyclist. But now because of where I am I definitely don't want to stop after the Olympics.