Professional cycling, or just professional sport in general, can be an emotional roller-coaster. One day you can be on cloud nine, nothing could have gone better and you're loving life. The next day everything can go wrong and you just want to crawl into a dark corner and stay there.
After yesterday's ecstasy brought on by the team's fantastic performance in the opening road stage of the Giro Rosa that saw Elisa Longo Borghini finish second on the stage and move into third overall, today was a dark corner day for me, and for the rest of the team.
The race was one for the sprinters; six laps of 20km circuit on dead flat roads. There was a small chance a breakaway could escape but with teams like Wiggle Honda, Orica-AIS and my team, Hitec Products, all looking for a mass bunch kick the odds were never in the favour of any escapee.
Despite this teams who didn't have a sprinter still wanted to have a go. With just over 50km to go a lone rider broke away from the fast moving peloton and established a lead of almost two minutes before the sprinters team's decided to take charge.
With 40km to go we sent three of ours riders to the front, along with Alé Cippolini, to bring the gap down and were joined by Wiggle Honda a little later on. While the lone rider put up a valiant effort she was reeled in with just under 20km to go and we were set for a bunch sprint.
I had been sitting comfortably in the bunch all day and my confidence was being bolstered by my teams's unwavering belief in me.
In the team meeting before the race our Director had said today was all for me and the girls were all in agreement. They did a fantastic job throughout the race to make sure I was always protected, well hydrated and just generally okay.
With 15km my team and I were coming together, we'd spoken about where we wanted to start our lead out train and I had all seven of my teammates with me. Elisa, clad in her blue best Italian rider jersey had taken control and was organising all the girls; Lauren Kitchen, Audrey Cordon, Ashleigh Moolman, Julie Leth, Emilie Moberg, Cecilie Johnsen. They were all around me, it was an incredible feeling to have that sort of support.
A huge crash, right at the front of the peloton. Like dominos girls just started piling on-top of each other.
I had no where to go but down, riding straight over the top of poor Amy Pieters (Giant Shimano) who was on the bottom of the pile. Getting up straight away I looked to my left to see Ash on the ground with me.
Picking my bike out of the pile I could hear Emilie who had managed to avoid the crash frantically asking if I was okay. I was fine, but picking my bike at of the tangled mess of riders I could immediately tell that my bike wasn't.
With car number two my team vehicle was quick to arrive at the crime scene and I caught my mechanic just before he started running towards me with wheels, "spare bike, spare bike!"
He immediately dropped the wheels and ripped my bike off the roof, putting my race bike to the side I jumped on my spare bike to see Emilie waiting for me and a frantic chase began.
I should note that this all transpired in less than two minutes. In bike racing so much can happen in the blink of an eye.
As Emilie and I started the chase back to the peloton I could immediately hear a noise coming from my bike and could feel extra resistance, like that horrible feeling when your breaks are rubbing but worse, but I pushed it to the back of my mind. I was concentrated on getting back to front of the peloton.
Within a minute I saw Lauren and Audrey up ahead, they had also waited to help me get back to the front of the peloton. Crashing is never something you hope for, but when you have support from your teammates like I had today it makes it just a little bit better.
The three girls brought me back to the peloton and immediately started weaving through the mass of riders to bring me back to the front. With less than 10km to go the back of the peloton was not where we wanted to be.
Elisa, who had been waiting for us in the peloton saw the green train of Hitec flying up the side of the peloton and jumped in to help but I could still feel something off with my bike.
When the girls got out of the seat to kick out of a corner I couldn't do the same, it was like my fast twitch fibre had disappeared. I'm sure if I had an SRM (a power metre computer) on my bike it would have told me I was I was pushing close to 600 watts when those around me were pushing 300.
With 3km to go Elisa, Audrey and Julie were all still with me but as the peloton weaved through the technical approach to the finish I was finding it harder and harder to accelerate out of the corners.
Slipping further and further back in the peloton my race was over. It was a devastating feeling to have your teammates so committed to helping you get a result and then not being able to deliver.
Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) went on to win ahead of Vos (Rabobank) and Shelly Olds (Alé Cipollini).
Unless you're Marianne Vos you don't get that many opportunities to win a stage of the Giro Rosa in your career and today feels like a missed opportunity. Knowing that my legs were good and my team was even better just adds salt to the wounds.
The silver lining of today's race is that Elisa remains in third overall and in the best Italian rider jersey and didn't lose any serious time on the general classification, while Ash remains in the mountains jersey.
Tomorrow's 125km third stage from Caserta to San Donato Val di Comino will be another day where the general classification riders will come out to play with the race finishing on a 5km climb.
From a purely selfish point of view I'm hoping there are more opportunities to sprint in this Giro so I can bring myself out of my dark corner.
7 days left.
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