Thursday, 20 March 2014

El Salvador- 1 days

Cycling has taken me many places, El Salvador is one of those places.

I was looking forward to racing with the team for 9 days (3 one days and a 6 day stage race) these races were a great opportunity for us to ride with each other and to also get some valuable UCI points. Having already looked at the race bible I already knew the stages weren't going to be for me. Most days finished on top of a climb that was at least 10km long or more. Mara Abbott, arguably the best climber in the woman’s peloton Sharon Laws and Katie Hall are the climbers and  between them they were going to own the climbs. 

After looking at the profile the night before, the first day was realistically the only chase I was going to have of getting a victory. This is what we thought anyway, far from it. The race started off pretty steady. It just followed a rolling, very wide 3 lane motorway which made it easy to control on the front. About 20km there was a touch of wheels at the front which took most of the field down and 2/3 of the UHC girls. Unfortunately Lauren went down hard and abandoned. Ruth and I stayed up right and neutralised the front so the stragglers could get back on. I was having a horrid day and got gapped on a climb. Even if i was having an amazing day I wouldn't of been anywhere near the front at the finish. The profile seemed to make the stage a lot flatter than we had anticipated. After climbing 15km and then dropping down into the finishing village I was way down on the winning time and pretty disappointed with how I had gone but hearing Mara and Sharon had got a 3rd and 4th was great. 

Day 2 was a climbers day. Lauren was still sore from her crash so she took it easy and rested. We still had 8 days of racing so there was no point in pushing it. Ruth and I had been given instructions to keep the bunch together and look after Mara, Sharon and Katie. I liked this idea. It was going to be fun riding in a different role and not just sitting in waiting until the last 200m to show my face. The bunch was all still together at the bottom of the final climb and there was nothing more we could do so we jumped in the truck. It was amazing to watch Mara do her thing. I had never seen anyone make climbing a 15km climb look so elegant and graceful. To finish off a great day Sharon came in 3rd.

Last of the 3 days also finished on top of a climb so we used the same tactics as the previous day, keep the climbers safe and don't let any breaks go up the road. Lauren was back so we had a team captain to call the shots. It felt amazing to ride the front and be in control. It was extremely hot and humid so I went back to the car a couple of times so get bottles for everyone. About 50km in the attacks at rated coming so we were on our toes and had to make sure we didn't let a group to big get away. Mara’s climbing ability is exceptional so we knew we didn't have to panic to much if a small group of non climbers went up the road but we didn't want to be to lenient. With 5km to go from the bottom of the climb 2 riders went up the road and we just held them at about 10 seconds. There was a tight right hand bend with gravel just at the bottom of the climb and a couple of riders went down but fortunately non of ours. Early on into the climb I lost the group along with Ruth and Lauren so we just rode steady to the finish. Its rubbish never knowing how the race unfolded but by the founds of it Katie had a great ride and set up a podium finish for Mara. 

We then had 2 days off racing before the 6 day stage race begun. 

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