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