Lauren is headed north once more today for the Ardennes week, a triple classics week in both Belgium and The Netherlands. While a full Ardennes week has been enjoyed by the men’s peloton for a number of years, this will be the first time the women will experience both The Amstel Gold race and Liege – Bastonge – Liege. These two races are split by the famous La Flèche Wallone that has already been a centrepiece of the Spring campaign for a number of years.
“Im really looking forward to these races, They will be hard for sure but we have a really strong team and I think we can do something a bit special here”
Lauren will be joined by both Marianne Vos and Kasia Niewiadoma, both have a next to flawless history when racing on the famous Caulberg, with Vos taking the rainbow jersey of World Champion there in 2012 and Kasia winning the last stage of Holland Ladies Tour last year there. Vos is a five time winner of Flèche and Kasia is a key favourite for the that race. Liege offers a bit more of the unknown.
“Both Marianne and Kasia are very suited to this style of racing, I think that if they are both firing on al cylinders we will be The Team to watch for the week, I also see this as a great opportunity for myself to step up and be there at the critical moments for the girls but also for myself”
With a rough run of bad luck now behind and a good two week of training in the legs, Lauren is refreshed and ready to fight for that elusive victory at some of the biggest races of the year.
“It will be special to do these races for the first time, Im excited but that, but I really want to take positive feelings away and it would be great if we could win one or two of them!”
The past two weekends I have spent in Drenthe, The Netherlands and in Cittiglio, Italy for the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the world tour. I really enjoyed both races but left both not quite satisfied. Drenthe is a tough 150km race around the flat, cobbles roads of northern Netherlands and can offer a different race situation each year with different factors making the race each time. This year I had good legs but missed a key selection in the final part of the race, I was really frustrated at myself for this as I really missed a great opportunity but I learnt something and that’s the most important moving forward. Marianne Vos, my team mate salvaged a hard fought 7th place for the team while I finished in the next main group in 27th.
After a good week of recovery and training I headed to Italy for ‘Binda’ this is a really nice race and also one of the first races I did with the national team when I started racing in Europe. The hilly circuit suited our team and I knew with a good day I could be there in the finish with the front. However it wasn’t to be, after about 10km myself and 3 of my teammates crashed quite hard and I spent the next 25km chasing only to rejoin at the base of the days longest climb. While I was generally unhurt, the team was down in numbers and had used a lot more energy then would be ideal up to this point. For me I ran out of legs in the final sections of the race, I knew this point would come after the chase from the crash. Kasia, our polish champion finished 8th after her last lap breakaway was caught.
While we didn’t come home with the results we are after, the team is bonding well and racing well, we just need a little luck for it to all fall into place. I have a lot of confidence in the team and also in my feeling personally that the best is yet to come.
Next up for me is Gent Welvegem next Sunday before the big one, The Ronde van Vlaanderen in two weeks time.
Last weekend Lauren competed in the third edition of Strade Bianche, The opening round of the Women’s World Tour for 2017. The iconic Tuscan race is a real favourite on the calendar for many riders with the Italian charm and tough conditions making it a true classic race. The course included 30km of white gravel roads split over eight different sectors throughout the 127km race. Lauren was part of a strong WM3 line up with last year’s second place polish champion, Kasia Niewiadoma and multiple time world champion Marianne Vos as team mates and favourites.
With a team plan to deliver the two protected riders to the final sectors of the race fresh and strong, Lauren captained the team to a strong team performance. “It was a tough day with the weather also, we had rain and wind to deal with , along with the hilly course and gravel sectors” The team did suffer a fair bit of bad luck and while Kasia still managed to pick up second place, showing her true strength, it left the girls hungry for more.
“We had a fair bit of bad luck really, Kasia crashed down a big hole on the fifth gravel sector and I had to climb down to get her out as she was stuck!, I don’t really know how she managed it, But we got her back and that was good. Personally I had two bike changes and another crash as well and then some further mechanical problems in the final so i was actually really pleased with my result, knowing that my level is really good at the moment” Lauren suffered a fair bit of bad luck but as she explains, it can happen in bike races and there is no point dwelling on it. “It can happen, I mean its not ideal and I had to use a lot of energy at multiple times and I missed a key split because of it in the final sectors, but at the end of the day, Kasia was 2nd and I was a big part of that and Im really proud of that and also the whole team effort.”
Lauren’s next race is Ronde van Drenthe next Saturday, this will mark the second round of the Women’s World Tour. Drenthe is again a true classic race but is a huge contrast to the white gravel roads and rolling hills of Tuscany. Drenthe is a flat cobbled dutch race often marked with cold rainy weather. “Im really looking forward to it, I love these hard days and I know the team can do well, and I hope personally I can be up there too”
Photos: Anton Vos
Lauren opened her season with two solid races in Belgium with her WM3 Pro Cycling team last weekend with Omloop het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Omloop het van Hageland on Sunday, The two races served as an appetiser for the more important Spring Classics to come in the coming months.
Lauren was happy to find her legs and form for the weekend’s races and finish with a top ten result on Sunday in a fast sprint finish in Tielt-Winge.
“Im really happy with how I felt in the races and that is a credit to my coaches, Kev and Brad, and to the team for helping me get to this level already. I know that with my feeling and with the strength of my teammates we are going to achieve some big results this year and that has me really excited”
“Nieuwsblad was a nervous opener as always but I had a great time racing with my teammates for the first time and also working with Sports Director Jeroen again, I made a small mistake personally in the race and I think it cost me a better position or the opportunity to help Kasia further in the final, as she was super strong, but I was happy with my level and that was the most important thing to take from Saturday”
Sunday was a slightly more relaxed affair with less cobbles and climbs compared with Saturday but with a nervous peloton the race still proved to be tough and with multiple crashes throughout. While WM3 rode for an aggressive race, a bunch sprint seemed the only outcome for the day with Lauren rounding out the top ten in a sprint at 80kph.
“The finish sprint really wasn’t suited to me so we tried to avoid a bunch sprint and looked to establish a break, but it just wasn’t to be, I think I could have had a better result in the finish but I need to work a bit more on these situations still. I happy I could be there for the team to get some sort of result but I’m looking forward to proving myself more in the upcoming races”
Next up for Lauren is Strade Bianche, The opening World Tour race for the team in Italy on Saturday. This will be Marianne Vos’ debut for the team this road season.
Pics Anton Vos
Lauren will kick off her season with the WM3 Pro Cycling this weekend at the first Belgium classics of the season, Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop het van Hageland. While Lauren did race the Santos TDU in January in Australia, this weekend of racing is the traditional opening to the season and the first race for WM3 as a team.
Lauren is very much looking forward to the opening weekend after a successful training block in Calpe, Spain with the team over the past two weeks. The team stayed together in a big house which offered a more ‘family style’ environment to get to know each other and prepare for the season ahead.
pic: Anton Vos
“It was a really nice camp in Calpe, We trained really hard and also had a lot of fun together, the time went really fast which is a good sign and I think we are all really pumped to race now. ”
Yesterday Lauren took part in the recon ride of Saturday’s course for Nieuwsblad which consists of 124km with nine climbs and six cobbled sectors. It was a typical classics day with wind, mud and rain. It was a good opportunity to test equipment for the weekend’s races.
“We rode the course yesterday, which was really good to do, I have done it before but its important to get the feeling back of the steep climbs and rough cobbles so you feel more prepared, I was also really glad I tested the race bike setup, which not only looks fantastic, is also going to be super smooth for races of this nature.”
Lauren lines up with a strong squad including the Polish national champion, Kasia Niewiadoma and the Dutch champion, Anouska Koster. WM3 has more then a few cards to play and will be looks to surprise the competition.
“Im really excited to be part of such a strong group of girls, we are really strong as a team and I hope we can show this on the weekend”
Lauren has finished in 4th place in the general classification in the Santos women’s Tour Down Under. The four day stage race was a tough fought competition with time bonuses and intermediate sprints being the key to a solid result.
“I’m satisfied with this result, It’s not a win but it is a big confidence boost and tells me that training is on the right track towards the Spring classics in five weeks time”
Lauren with Port Macquarie Cycle Club members after stage 4
Lauren raced as part of the NSWIS- Sydney Uni team for the race and was thankful to be able to start with the development squad and take the leadership role. The NSWIS – Sydney Uni squad is racing under the director, ex- pro Katie Brown and marked the first race of the year for the team.
“The team was great, its a good group of girls and they went pretty well racing against some of the top women in the world, we came into the race as probably the lowest ranked team the team many people didn’t expect much of and we finished with a fourth place in the GC as well as being a factor in the sprint competition, I think thats impressive!”
Lauren won one of the bonus sprints during stage 4
Lauren will now return to Port Macquarie for a ten day period before heading to Europe to link up with her professional team, WM3 Pro cycling.
“This result has made me even more excited to get over to Europe, my form is coming along nicely and now I can’t wait to get over there and spend time with my team mates”
Lauren’s next races will be in the Spring Classics where she is looking to build on some solid performances last season in the biggest races.
“Last season I wanted top 10s now I want a win, I think its the natural progression and now I feel ready to take that step with my new team WM3”
Lauren has officially started her 2017 season with the WM3 Pro cycling team with the national road race championship today in Ballarat, Victoria. Lauren finished the race in 18th place, and while the result is not what Lauren was hoping for, she is taking a few positives away from the championship while she builds for the start of the European season at the end of February.
“My result today wasn’t pleasing to me, I didn’t have the legs to follow Katrin and Spratty on the climb and full credit to them they were the strongest and deserved the results they got. I am building towards the Spring classics and while I would have liked to have been more of a contender, this race ultimately is a stepping stone to bigger goals later in the season”
With a long season ahead, Lauren has chosen to focus on the Spring Classics and sees today’s race as great preparation for this.
“I want to be a bigger player in the classics this year, I proved to myself last year I can be there in the biggest races and now with a strong WM3 team I hope to play a big role through the Spring period. Today is still seven weeks until the first race of the spring so Im right on track for that”
Lauren will now travel to Adelaide where she will race the Tour Down Under with the NSWIS squad as a guest rider.
“Tour Down Under is a great race for the aussies, I am looking forward to mentoring some of the NSWIS girls and getting some good intensity in before another good training block and heading over to Europe for the final preparations. While I would love to win a stage, Im not sure what to expect with a dynamic field and a mixed course.”
The Tour Down Under starts on Jan 14th and concludes with a criterium in Adelaide on Jan 17th.
Lauren has signed with the new Fortitude Pro Cycling team for the next two season where she will again link up with 2012 Olympic champion Marianne Vos. Fortitude pro cycling is a new project born from the remains of the Rabobank cycling team that Lauren was a part of in 2012. The exciting new project is unlike current women’s cycling teams in that it is offering a unique business project approach to its partners.
“I’m really excited for the 2017 and onwards with Fortitude, everything so far had been very professional and exciting and I can’t wait for the new season to begin”
The Dutch squad will include 11 riders with Lauren the sole Australian on the squad that also includes talented climber Kasia Niewadomia and Dutch champion Anouska Koster.
“I see this as the next step in my career, to be a part of a big professional team that will give me opportunity to be a part of some big team performances and results along with the chance to chase my own results”
Lauren and Marianne will be teammates once more.
Pic : Anton Vos
After three great seasons with Hitec Products, where Lauren has formed some strong friendships, she is excited for a change next season.
“I’ve had three great seasons with Hitec, I’ve enjoyed my time there and I believe I really developed and gained more confidence while being part of the Scandinavian team”
“But it is time for a change and a new challenge and I’m happy to have found that with Fortitude Pro Cycling”
Lauren’s first appearance in Fortitude Pro Cycling’s colors will be at the Australian Nationals in January 2017
Further details can be seen here: http://cyclingtips.com/2016/09/riders-and-name-announced-for-marianne-vos-2017-team/
The Women’s road team of the Olympics was officially announced today and Lauren’s name was missing. The team named included; Katrin Garfoot, Rach Neylan, Amanda Spratt and Gracie Elvin, all of Orica-AIS. This is a massive blow to Lauren, who describes this as one of the low points of her career.
“I’m really devastated. I put so much into this and while I’m sure the selected girls put a lot in also, I really believed that I was a good choice and would make a big impact on the race and the team”
“The last week has been really tough, I was racing the Giro in Italy and while I lost nearly all my motivation to ride my bike, my team needed me and my teammates were relying on me so I had to get on with the job.”
“I had the option to appeal the decision and I did follow up on this, I didn’t want to look back and think, what if?, However with the selections being discretionary the chances of change were very small and ultimately the appeal was dismissed.”
“This is a low point, there is no denying that, but my team, my coach and my family have been really supportive and I am really humbled by how many people have wanted to help and support me to this point. Now I have some time to switch off and recharge with an altitude block in Livingo which will now be used to kick start the end of the season.”
“I want to finish now with a big bang, I now won’t race until Vargarda in Sweden on Aug 21 and then Plouay in France, Aug 27, where I will set my sights on a big result.”
I believe the selectors made the wrong choice and I will prove that.
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”
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”
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”