Lauren finishes 4th on final stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour

Lauren finished stage 5 of the Aviva Women’s Tour in 4th spot after successfully making it into the race winning breakaway 25km into the 113k race. The challenging route included 2 QOM climbs along with numerous uncategorised climbs making it a fifth and final tough day in the saddle.

“Im really happy with this result, of course a win would have been nice but I was with some fast girls in the break and I tried to escape a few ties in the final 10km but it wasn’t to be”

“Ive had quite a tough week with some bad luck in terrible moments so Im really grateful to finish on a positive note and prove to myself what I’m capable of at the end of a big week”

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Lauren came into the race with General Classification aspirations but after an untimely puncture in the final of stage 2 and a major crash in the final of stage 4, this 4th place in stage 5 proves it will take a bit more to knock her out.

“It wasn’t a good week, I put a lot of pressure on myself and ultimately though just bad luck thing didn’t shape out the way I wanted but that bike racing sometimes, I know I have a really good level at the moment and I really wanted to prove that this week, with this being the last race considered for Olympic selection”

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Lauren’s 4th place marks her 15th UCI top 10 result for 2016 and her 5th World Tour top ten result. She hopes that this consistency will help her case for Olympic selection.

“I’ve done all I can now, I believe I’ve proven myself in hilly races this season and towards the end of last season with my ride at the World Championships. Now it’s up to the selectors to decide”

The Amgen Tour of California

The Amgen Tour of California that took place recently in the USA was Lauren’s first Women’s World Tour stage race experience as well as her first time to California. Below in her own words she highlights the week long experience of the trip to the US with her Hitec Team mates.

We left for the US early on Monday morning from Amsterdam, I was traveling with my dutch teammate Kirsten along with Italian Tatiana and German Charlotte. We were to meet up with the Norwegians Cecilie and Janicke along with our staff on arrival in the US. The trip was long but expected so no real troubles there. We arrived on Monday evening to our hotel in Sacramento, California to warm weather and friendly greetings as the atmosphere started to build with many teams arriving and getting organised to race.

On Tuesday morning after a long sleep we drove up to South Lake Tahoe. This was a really beautiful location with snow capped mountains and the clear waters of Lake Tahoe, we were all getting pretty motivated to race. The biggest challenge that we, along with a lot of the other teams, faced was the high altitude of nearly 2000m for the location of this first stage.

Race day rolled around and as excited as I was to get stuck in, I was pretty worried about the altitude and how I would feel, along with the jet-lag. Its safe to say I didn’t feel fresh for the race. My team and I were to look for opportunities in the race, realistically we are not the favourite for the race and therefore didn’t have the responsibility to control the race. In the end the race resulted in a 1.5k uphill finish were I was in the mix until the last few hundred metres. The altitude added a new dimension that I wasn’t sure how to deal with and defiantly suffered with however I loved racing around Lake Tahoe and it for sure one place I would love to travel back to in the future.

Stage 2 was a 20km Team Time Trial, this time in Folsom at sea level. It was great to get back to some oxygen and my teammates and I were pumped for a solid day. Unfortunately we lost one of our girls early and then a second to a nasty crash just after half-way. I was really happy with my performance and feeling but for a team time trial you really need everyone to be on a good day to pull of a result and we eventually finished in 8th place just over 1minute down on Twenty16 the winning team. My Norwegian teammate, Cecilie, suffered a broken collarbone and shoulder blade in the crash and after undergoing surgery that evening is on the mend and is looking to return to racing soon.

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photo: Anton Vos

Stage 3 offered a more challenging race then most people predicted. Our team plan for the race was to go on the attack and look for a stage result opportunity. I am really proud of how I raced this stage as I put myself out there trying to get up the road and even though it didn’t happen in the end for a sustained period, we rode really well as a team and it was great to be on the attack together. Unfortunately we lost our second Norwegian in this stage which meant that we were down to 4 for the final day’s racing.

Stage 4 was one the main target for our team. It was a fast city circuit around Sacramento. The 70k race looked on paper like a guaranteed bunch sprint and with one of the best sprinters in the world in our ranks we were defiantly excited about this stage. The team rode flawlessly, we are so in sync when it comes to setting up Kirsten for a bunch sprint. There was quite a big crash around the halfway mark that Kirsten was involved with but without any panic we had her back in the bunch within a lap. I didn’t even check how she was until after we were back, luckily she was unaffected in the incident. Tatiana was unfortunately suffering a mechanical issue with her gears as a result leaving us with just myself and Lotte to cover the final stages of the race. Charlotte covered the final attacks while I stayed close to Kirsten and eventually pulled her through the last corner at the front of the peloton. Kirsten won the stage after a powerful sprint to pull off a good week of racing for the team.

Personally I was really happy with how I felt during the race considering the jet-lag and the altitude on stage one but I was hoping to be a bit more of an impact on the final results sheet, however all in all it was a fantastic week to set up the second half of my season. I now have a good foundation to get stuck into the final selection period for the Olympics with Holland Hills and Gooik up this weekend.

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Lauren lands on the Podium twice

Lauren raced with the Australian National development team over the weekend in the Rabobank 7-Dorpenomloop Aalburg in the Netherlands on Saturday and Trofee Maarten Wynants in Belgium on Sunday. On Saturday Lauren finished 2nd to Marianne Vos, after the two had escaped late in the race from the initial 6 rider breakaway that had formed with 60km to go.

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“It was a great day Saturday, the race is close to where I am based in the Netherlands and I generally really enjoy dutch racing. It was a tough race, I was in the breakaway for 60km working hard to establish and maintain the gap with Marianne. With about 5km to go she attacked hard on one of the overpasses and we were just the two of us for the final few kilometres”

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“Marianne was strong in the break and it was tough for me to follow, I am normally not satisfied with 2nd place but today I am happy with my race and proud of this podium result

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On Sunday, Lauren and the Aussie development team backed up for a second one day race, this time in Belgium. The plan was to be aggressive from the half way mark but even with some strong attacks from all the girls it came down to bunch kick on the free flowing circuit. Lauren again ran 2nd in the bunch sprint to Lotto-Soudal’s Lotte Kopecky, a rising star of Belgium track cycling.

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“I am again satisfied with my race today, also the performance from the Aussie girls, it is nice to see their progression over the 2 months they have been in Europe, they all rode really strong today even when they were tired from yesterday”

“It nice to be on the podium twice in 2 days but of course its also a little frustrating to be so close to a win, at least I know I’m heading in the right direction and Im sure a win is not too far away”

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Lauren will travel to California in 1 week to begin the Tour of California on the 19th of May. The Tour of California will mark the eighth round of the Women’s World Tour and with 8 of the top 10 ranked Women’s teams on the start list it will be a tough week of racing.

Photos from Anton Vos

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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Professional cyclist