September 13, 2011

Adventures in Holland

Just because Holland Ladies tour is flat does not make it easy. I just finished racing for six days through wind and rain, over dikes and through farm fields, and even up a few hills with the fastest riders in the world!
team presentation: Karol-Anne, Me, Rhae, Julie, Heather and Denise

I knew we were in for a hard week from day one. It started with a 50 km/h “neutral” start, immediately turning onto a dike with a wicked crosswind. A team from Holland then team time trialed at the front and broke the race apart in about 30 seconds, with 5 of their 6 riders in a breakaway. The whole Canadian team was a bit in trouble at this point as we had started near the back of the pack. It was a long day, but we all finished to continue on.

We battled the elements and fought for position in the pack through out the next few stages. The slippery conditions took their toll on the pack and caused many crashes. I was lucky to be one of the few to avoid this fate.
Enjoying an excellent dinner between stages

The last stage was the most interesting course. It started near Maastricht in southern Holland, where there are actually hills. Certain parts of the course are used for the Amstel Gold spring classic. The hills were short, but extremely painful to climb after racing non-stop. Erinne Willock (Tibco) from Canada had an impressive ride this stage and was in a breakaway for 90+km and won the “berg” hill prize.

Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) was the big winner of the week, winning several stages, and taking the overall. It doesn’t matter if it's racing over mountains in the Giro, or sprinting through the fields of Holland, she is simply the fastest and most impressive female cyclist right now!

(Check out this link to learn more about some of the fastest women in the sport, aka the watties! )

I learned a lot and I was proud to be one of the 67 riders to finish all of the stages of the 155 starters.
One of the most important lessons learned was to always double check directions when leaving a race... you just might end up in Germany instead of Belgium!

Time to recover!

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