The Tour of Yorkshire

Yesterday Lauren and her team took to the start of the 2nd edition of the women’s Tour of Yorkshire race. The event was highly anticipated on the calendar as it offered the largest prize pool ever for women’s cycling with 15 000 pounds for 1st place along with live coverage on Eurosport for the entire race.

Hitec went with a strong team to the event with arguably one of the best sprinters in the world, Kirsten Wild. Having a strong sprinter and race favourite doesn’t make it any easier with every other team not in favour to take Kirsten to a bunch finish.

Lauren and her teammates worked hard to keep the race together for a bunch sprint including a tough 30km chase to bring back local hero and world champion Lizzie Armistead in the closing kilometres.

Kirsten delivered and the team was rewarded for their work when they saw Kirsten with her arms in the air.

“It was a tough race, but such a cool event as well, I’m stoked that Kirsten won, it was a real team performance today,  it was defiantly not an easy win for us”

“Personally I was really happy to be at the front of the race at critical moments after I had a few days easier this week, I didn’t know how I would feel and although I wasn’t super I was really happy with my level and I’m looking forward to some solid training in the next couple of weeks”

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To cap off a perfect day for the team, Lauren also snagged the Sprint jersey competition, winning a teddy bear that Lauren has called Don, after the town of Doncaster where the race finished and a Yorkshire pudding crown! The competition sponsors.

“The sprints weren’t a goal or a plan but I was there just before the first one and I thought ‘Why Not’, after I won the first one, I thought ok I will see for the second and after I managed to finish third in that one I had it wrapped up”

“It was a nice little extra for the team”

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The highs and lows of Flèche Wallonne

Lauren competed in the 6th round of the Women’s World Tour yesterday in Huy, Belgium. La Flèche Wallonne is an iconic race for the men’s and women’s peloton and 2016’s event was another spectacular race of short steep hills and twisting roads around the Wallonne region of Belgium.

It was not this first time Lauren has lined up for the event, but it was the first time she has started the race with real aspirations to be a contender in the final sections of the race with a top 10 result being the goal of the day.

“I knew a top ten would be really tough to achieve but thats why I worked hard for this race for the last month or so, I have worked a lot of my climbing power recently and I was really happy to see this pay off yesterday”

Lauren just missed the selection of 7 riders over the second last climb but was still in contention for a top ten when her group of around 15 riders arrived at 1km to go and the base of the Muur de Huy, a 10% climb to the finish with a maximum of 24% gradients with about 500m to go.

“I was really happy with my race up until about 500m to go when I was essentially taken out by a crash from another rider, she of course didn’t mean to do it and it wasn’t that I was in a bad position, it was just really unlucky”

Lauren remounted quickly and finished in 27th place 1minute and 23 seconds behind Anna van der Breggen from Rabobank.

“I was very upset after the race, I felt like I was going to prove something today, that I can climb well and it was essentially taken away, but you know this is also part of bike racing and it is important to move on and not dwell on it”

“I know I have a really good level at the moment and it is important remember the positives from the race as well, I really enjoyed the race and it is one that I defiantly intend to come back to in the future with big aspirations to do well, along with Strade Bianche this is my favourite race.”

Lauren will line up again on Saturday for Omloop van Borsele to essentially close up her classics campaign for 2016. After this race she will have a few days to recover to begin to work towards her next season goal of the Tour of California in a few weeks time.

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Lauren finishes 4th in Omloop van Ijsseldelta

Lauren has recorded her best european result for the 2016 season with 4th place in the wind swept, dutch classic yesterday. This is Lauren’s 13th top 10 UCI result for the 2016 season as she shows no signs of slowing down ahead of some big season goals in coming weeks.

Ijsseldelta was a typical dutch race around the city of Zwolle, Kirsten Wild’s home town, Lauren’s teammate and last years winner. Team Hitec Products began with the goal to try to set up their home town super sprinter but with very strong winds, a controlled race was not an option. After just 12km into the 134km race the bunch was in many groups with a group of 9 eventually forming after 30km. Lauren and Kirsten were both part of this group, Along with 4 riders from Rabobank. With canyon-sram and wiggle both missing the front group it was not an easy ride in the front group with the gap hovering between 1 – 2.5minutes for the next 100km.

Lauren and Kirsten rode well in the closing kilometres trying to secure a podium spot however it was not to be with Lauren finishing 4th and Kirsten 5th.

“Its a bit disappointing to not be on the podium today, I wanted Kirsten to have the best chance in her home town so I was thinking about her and in the end there were so many attacks it was hard to control.”

“It was a super hard race 130km of riding full gas!”

Of the 200 starters there were only 31 finishers, showing just how tough the conditions were.

Next up for Lauren is La Flèche Wallone on Wednesday April 20. Which marks the 6th round of the Women’s World Tour of which Lauren is currently the 14th overall.

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Lauren finishes 9th in Binda

In the third round of the Women’s World Tour Lauren finished in 9th place, winning the bunch sprint behind the select 8 rider breakaway. This is Lauren’s third top 10 result in the WWT for 2016, showing her consistency over varied courses. The Trophoe Alfredo Binda in Cittiglio in Northern Italy is a tough race with longer climbs with little recovery making this round favourable to the climbers of the peloton. This year there was a new climb added to the finishing circuit which as predicted made the race even tougher then before.

“It is a really tough race, there is a long 4-5km climb in the first part of the race and now in the finishing circuit there is to just the 3km Orino climb we have 4 times but also a shorter but stepper 1km climb just after the finish line”

“I really wanted to go well in this race because it is hilly and I have been working on this area in training, I am very happy to finish in 9th place, I wasn’t good enough when the eight riders went to follow, but I wasn’t too far off and this gives me motivation to work harder so maybe next time I can go also”

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Lauren’s 9th place maintains her top ten ranking in the World Tour and gives her a confidence boost heading into Belgium’s cycling week. Next up is the fourth round of the World Tour in Belgium next Sunday for Gent- Welvegem before Pajot Hills on Wednesday and the big one of The Tour of Flanders on The following Sunday.

“Im exactly where I need to be form wise heading into Flanders, it would be something special to get a good result there. I have the form now its just about it all coming together at the right moment”

Lauren finishes 8th in The Ronde van Drenthe

Lauren has continued to show her strong form in round two of the Women’s World Tour yesterday by finishing 8th in The Ronde van Drenthe in The Netherlands. The 138km race was vastly different to round one in Tuscany last weekend with long cobble stone sections, wind and a short man made climb over a rubbish tip being the main obstacles in a majorly flat course.

“This is always such a tough race, it is quite long for us, I think one of the longest races we have all year, the race is always on small roads and it is very nervous in the bunch, it is always a fight to be at the front, particularly before the key cobble stone sections”

The race split apart on the cobbles with a break of 4 going clear with still 70km to go. However this strong break had nearly all the major teams represented and stayed away until the end with Chantel Blaak of Boels Dolmans taking the win. Lauren finished 4th in the bunch sprint to finish 8th in the race, making this her 3rd top 10 result in 10 days.

“I’m really happy with 8th today, to be honest I didn’t feel great today, I found the cobbles hard and I suffered more then I would have liked, but that makes this result even more encouraging heading into the next World Tour races” “My teammates rode 100% for me and I am really thankful for their support, I think we have a respectable result and I am looking forward to continuing the good feeling in the team in the next races”

Lauren will line up again today in Drentse 8, a UCI 1.2 race in The Netherlands before a week of preparation for round three of the World Tour in Italy next Sunday.

“The weekend is not over yet and we have another chance today, I have good form so its about taking the opportunity when it comes, I hope it is sooner rather then later!”

Photo: Sean Robinson/Velofocus

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Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche may not have a long history but the unique nature and challenging course offered a fantastic event to open the UCI Women’s World Tour (WWT) yesterday in Siena, Tuscany. The WWT is made up of 17 events across the season and offers a stage for the pinnacle of women’s cycling to perform at the top level. All events must include either live coverage or a TV package of the race in order to boost the media profile of the sport.

Strade Bianche’s first women’s edition was held in 2015 and while Lauren and her Hitec Products’s team didn’t take part it was a great event and a race Lauren really looked forward to this season. The iconic race was 121km long and included just over 23km of gravel roads looping around the Chianti vineyards to the south of Siena. While the gravel roads provide a challenging obstacle, the rolling climbs and limited flat roads makes this event one of the hardest on the calendar.

“I really was looking forward to Strade, It looked like such a cool race last year and with it being World Tour this year I had this as my first goal for the Spring this season. I went into the race with a goal to be top 10, I really wanted this but I also was a little unsure as I didn’t know where I was at form wise on the longer climbs and against such a top level field.”

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photo: Matt Attard

Lauren continued to make each selection over the first 5km climb then over the next two long gravel sections to be apart of the front 35 riders after 70km of the race. The next 4 gravel sections were short but included very steep climbs and this is where Lauren forced herself into the selection of riders that formed the chase group behind the leading trio of World Champion, Lizzie Armistead, European Champion, Kasia Niewadomia and Swedish Champion, Emma Johannson. The chase group swelled form 7 riders to 14 in the closing 5km of the race with Lauren eventually finishing in 9th place in Siena for a good days work.

“Im really happy with this result, it was my first goal of the Spring and to be up there with the best in the business on such a hard course, it shows my form is just where it needs to be for this part of the season and it gives me confidence for the next few weeks and the next WWT events”

Lauren now turns her attention to the Ronde van Drenthe, which is the next round of the WWT taking place in The Netherlands next weekend.

The video highlights of the race can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toSKpzxz_FM

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Photo: Cycling Tips

Lauren top 10 in Le Samyn des dames

Lauren continued to show her strong form ahead of the opening Women’s World Tour race this Saturday with a 9th place in Le Samyn des dames today in south of Belgium. The semi-classic was a challenging race with high winds along with rain showers greeting the 190 rider peloton. The course consisted of a 62km opening lap followed by 2 X 25km finish laps. The finishing lap included 4 cobbled sections along with 2 categorised climbs. The cobbled sections proved challenging, splitting the group each lap.

“I take confidence from today’s performance, I got into the selection of 21 riders that went in the wind early on, then in the final I had some mechanical problems that did cost me, but that’s racing and I know that my time will come”

Lauren had to have a bike change only a few kilometres before the first cobbled climb, which lead to a lengthy chase back tot he front group. “for sure I used a lot of energy then, but that’s part of it, I am happy I could get back in and still contest the finish”

Lauren found herself unable to follow the front 8 riders on the last lap through the three starred cobbled section and won the sprint for 9th place. Next up is Strade Bianche on Saturday and this marks the start of the UCI Women’s World Tour, the top division races for the women’s elite peloton.

“These first three races in Belgium have been a fantastic beginning for me to prepare for the WWT, these next races are big goals for me and I know now my form is right where it needs to be”

Lauren travel’s to Italy on Friday morning for an early race on Saturday morning around Sienna, Italy on the white gravel roads of Strade Bianche.

Pic : Matt Attard

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Lauren on track after opening classics weekend

Lauren competed the opening weekend of Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop het Hageland over the weekend and showed encouraging performances moving towards the start of the WorldTour next weekend.

On Saturday, Lauren and Team Hitec Products were met with cold but dry conditions for the lap of the flanders region, with a max temperature of 7 degrees it was very different to the Aussie summer! Positioning is the key in these races and Lauren was right were she needed to be until a touch down on Petersburg put her in chasing mode, she bridged back to the front group over the next climb however was out of position for the next critical selection point at Molenburg climb. Eventually finishing a disappointing 28th.

“I was disappointed, I had good legs and I could have been in the mix for sure, but thats racing, I take a lot of confidence from today, I was feeling good and thats the most important thing to take moving forward”

Sunday was a 128km race around the Hageland region of Belgium. It was again a cold race that seemed a lot colder then 5 degrees with the bitter wind that blew through the peloton.

“I really wanted to have a good feeling after today, considering how I felt yesterday after the race, Today I was in the right place for all the splits and I felt good to follow Elisa Longo-borghini on the climb on the last lap, so Im happy with that today”

Unfortunately the move of six that formed on the last climb was short lived and an eventual bunch sprint emerged, where Lauren finished 17th, she was happy with the day’s work.

“Yes it was a good day today, I know now from the weekend that my form is just were it needs to be and with a little bit of luck I am confident to be in the mix in the bigger races”

Next up is Le Samyn on Wednesday, another semi-classic in Belgium before Lauren will travel to Italy for the first World Tour race of the year, Strade Bianchi in Sienna, Tuscany next Saturday.

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Lauren on the Podium in TDU

Lauren has just completed the Women’s Tour Down Under, which ran from the 16th to the 19th of January in the Adelaide region of South Australia. With the support of her Hitec Products teammates, Lauren secured the final spot on the overall podium behind Orica-AIS rider Katrin Garfoot and American Shelly Olds. The final podium positions were decided on a count back as the top four riders in the four day race finished on the same time over the four stages.

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“I am very happy to be on the final GC podium, this race was well contested among the Aussies and I think shows Im on the right track heading into the season. I am most proud of my performance on stage 3 where I really had to show I was physically at a good level along with ride smart and control Orica-AIS, who had the numerical advantage in the breakaway that had formed over the toughest part of the course.”

Lauren also finished 3rd on the 3rd stage, to give Hitec its first two podiums in a UCI road event ofthe year. Lauren was consistent across the four race days with her results being 4th on stage 1, 5th stage 2, 3rd stage 3 and 8th stage 4

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“Im happy with where I’m at right now, I have shown that I am ready very competitive and my form is good, now I have to rest for a few days and prepare for Cadel’s next weekend, before heading overseas.”

Next up for Lauren is Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race which takes place on Jan 30 in Geelong. Then she will travel to Qatar for the Ladies Tour of Qatar before onwards to Europe.

Photos: Kirsty Baxter

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Lauren Kicks off the new year with a Bronze medal ride

Lauren began her national championships campaign on Wednesday night with a Bronze medal ride in the women’s Criterium title. She also sealed the Sprint jersey competition on the way. The Crit title was Lauren’s first race since the World Championships last September so she was pleasantly surprised with her form after a long break and training block.

“I really didn’t know where I was at, I a hadn’t even done a local race since September, so Im also a bit relieved to see Im around the mark heading into the season”
This was Lauren’s third Bronze medal in the event in a row and her 6th medal in the event over the past 6 years. It is no longer an event that Lauren can fly under the radar despite her having no teammates she was always a favourite.
“I have a good track record in this race, I guess the course suites me with the tough drag to the line and my ability to race it in different conditions over the years. I won it in 2011 and then I think I have 4 other Bronze medals (3 Elite and 1 U23 along with a gold U23) so I am little bit sick of standing next to the winner to be honest, so in some ways I am disappointed, but the aim was to have a good hit out for the weekend’s important Road Race and that was defiantly achieved.”
The race came down to a breakaway of 9 riders which included 4 Orica-AIS riders. However it was Sophie Mackay who stole the show, just getting over Orica’s Lizzie Williams on the line.
“I think Orica had a bit of a mix up in their leadout and Lizzie had a big gap on their sprinter out of the last corner, I was behind Sarah Roy, their Sprinter and when I saw the gap, I realised I had to go really early, so that really wasn’t great for me. I was happy to get to Lizzie on the line but didn’t quite get there to take the title”
Next up for Lauren is the Road Race on Saturday where she has been named as a favourite. The race can be seen in the early afternoon on Channel
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