The first was the Valkenberg, which was to be stressed - hilly. The course map said the first climb was after 20km, and coming from the mountains of Vancouver I thought I would be fine. The first climb however, was about a kilometer after the neutral start. It started through a tunnel that three or four people max could pass through at a time. It was one of the hardest climbing races I have ever done - going up the infamous Cauberg, and other climbs of 15% or so. I was pulled along with the pack I was riding with, along with over half of the rest of the field. It has however motivated me to go find some hills and start riding them, seeing as the only rise in elevation for me is going over a bridge :) We did get our new team kits however! They are bright blue and I'm really happy that I get to race with such cool girls and great management for the rest of my time here.
|Marjetka, me and Rachel lined up|
Saturday was a much better race for me, and suited more my strengths. Again, after about 3 km the field had splintered into many smaller groups because the wind was so strong. I managed to get myself up to the main peleton which was the second group on the road, and raced with them for the rest of the 121km. It has also begun to be very hot here, so I gave a try at feeding from the car. It was my first time doing this and I managed to get some bottles for my teams mates as well! The hardest part was getting through the pack to give it to them though! haha. I finished 47th which I was pretty pleased about considering I havn't finished many of the classics. And this one is Marianna Vos' hometown race, so it was a big deal with a carnival and lots of spectators.
|I love this :)|
The icing on the cake for me was that Iris Slappendel (2nd at Gent Wevelgem) remembered me from our car ride home together!! She said hi to me on her way to the showers and asked how my race was. I think it is so cool that someone who is on the best women's team in the world, and who has just finished an insanely hard race is humble enough to say hi to someone she has met once. It's really enlightening to see how the pro girls over here are and interact with each other. I really hope that I get on a team like Rabobank and am able to race and be teammates with cool people like Iris. (I hope she can't read this!)
|my favorite thing!|