It's all happening

The last couple of weeks have involved quite a bit of travelling and racing. I've written bits and pieces in between and now that we are on the long drive to Spain, I can finish it. After Drenthe we stayed down in Belgium for a week for some training in the hills and for the races that were held there, including the World Cup round at Fleche Wallone. After this we had two Dutch races in the north of Holland; in 'Friesland', the home of the Friesian cow. It is actually so far north that they have their own language and when the two 'Fries' girls on our team chat together in 'Fries', the 'normal Dutchies' are unable to understand. Friesland is also renown for not so nice weather but we were blessed with a warm, 20°c, blue-sky day, and I was presented with some flowers as Olympic Champion on the start line.

However, it was a pity about the race. Myself and four of my teammates were caught behind a crash 10km into the race and never saw the front of the race again! There was a touch of wheels in the middle of the bunch resulting in a domino effect and a roadblock of fallen riders across the entire road. There were a couple of broken collarbones and also a broken pelvis, but fortunately none of us came down and had to unclip and walk our bikes around the chaos. There were crosswinds at the time, the hammer went down and by the time we were back on our bikes there was quite a gap to bridge. The race was 120km and I refused to think that we would be chasing for 110km! But that's what happened and it was a long day. We did have three girls that were in front of the crash, and in the end we placed third with Adrie Visser.

We had raced in a criterium the day before on a circuit that was 1.3km long with eight corners. We did really well, with Suz taking the win - I was third and Nat was fourth. We finished the 60km race in an hour and 20 minutes, and I certainly felt it because I had been sick with food poisoning two days previously, after Fleche Wallone. We arrived back from our week in Belgium and I ate some unopened yoghurt that expired that day but thought it would be ok. However, I think it was this that caused me to spend all my time in the toilet that night and the following day. I have never had food poisoning before but the good thing about it is that it only lasts a day!

For the last week of April I spent my time in Italy, in Novellara, the Australian Cycling base. A camp had been organised for all the Aussie riders in professional teams for medical check-ups, physio and bike position. I received my new bike a month ago when I arrived in Europe and just in the last week started to feel some back and knee pain. It turns out that my seat was 7mm too high so I was very grateful to get that sorted.

From Italy we drove five hours to Lausanne in Switzerland for a one-day time trial, which was on Sunday. It is considered as one of the selection races for the World Championships in which I want to compete in both the TT and the road race, so I wanted to perform fairly well. That didn't quite happen as I placed ninth, but there are more selection races to come, so all is not lost.

I flew back to Amsterdam after the TT, and the following morning at 6am we began our drive to Spain where I am shacked up in the back of the camper. It is quite a long drive with 10 hours of driving today, a stopover in a French hotel tonight and then another 6 hours tomorrow. However, thus far it has been pleasurable watching some movies on the DVD screens, having a sleep in one of the beds and doing some work on my uni assignment which is due this Friday. The racing in Spain starts Wednesday and is a three-day tour before the World Cup on Sunday. We then have three days recovery and begin the 10-day Tour de l'Aude in France, so I'll be in touch.

Keep smiling,

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In August last year, Sara Carrigan reached the pinnacle of her sporting career by winning the women's Olympic road race title in Athens. Turning professional for Team Ton van Bemmelen-AA Drink shortly afterwards, Australia's golden girl will be searching for similar success as a co-leader on one of the most powerful teams in women's cycling.