The Lotto Belisol Ladies Tour was the first race we competed in over here in Belgium. The five of us riding for Team Canada didn't know each other very well at the start of the week - but we have become amazing friends and huge fans of one another. The team was made up of Anika Todd - the amazing TTer, Annie Forman-Mackey - yet another amazing TTer, Veronique Fortin - insane hill climber, Shoni Laxon - fellow TRT team mate and power house and myself - a lover of European racing.
Although a few of us have raced in Europe before - it had either been a while or we had never done a race of this caliber before. The Lotto Belisol Tour has the best women from all over the world racing for 4 days though the hilly and treacherous Belgian landscape.
|the team before our TTT|
|team presentation - Vero,Shoni, Anika, Anie, and me!|
|Me getting called to answer questions|
Day two proved to be just as daunting - not only were there 2 climbs - but there was a torrential down pour and two cobbled sections that made it feel like we were riding on ice. Being the first big pack race in Europe all year, I was pretty nervous and not as aggressive as I know I can be - and settled into a group of about 50, along with Shoni. I can't tell you how comforting it is to have a team mate in the same group as you - when you are surrounded by non English speaking angry girls hahaha. Over 30 people were time cut or didn't finish this stage - so having our whole team make it through was amazing. Veronique had a break through ride getting 12th on the stage, and Annie and Anika also showed impressive strength finishing mid pack. After we cleaned up and got somewhat dry - we were treated to the hospitality of a local family for dinner in the town where we finished - Nijlen. When you think of Hockey Fans in Canada - that is what people in Belgium are like with cycling. They took our picture to put on their wall, got us to sign autograph books and made us feel like the Queens of England - it was something really special. Speaking of England - my Aunty and Uncle came out to support me today and stayed for the next two days as well! It was so exciting to see familiar faces and have some comforting hugs.
|us waiting our start time for the TTT|
I also need to say a huge thank you to the Mechanic Sean, Soigneur Michel, and Coach/Directer Denise. They were the reason we all finished - and had smiles on our faces. Michel has a magical bag with everything you could possibly need in it, and my bike has never worked so well thanks to Sean.
Stay tuned for recaps of day three and four...