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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