An epic weekend in Drenthe

Last weekend Lauren competed in the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo 1.2 last Friday and the Ronde van Drenthe World Tour race on Sunday. The 145km race on Friday was shaped by the extreme wind of 70-80kmph ripping across northern Holland. The peloton were faced with very small roads and two accents of the infamous Vamberg climb, a manmade rubbish tip hill which this year also featured a cobblestone sector, along with two flat cobblestone sectors. The race was on directly with Lauren missing the front selection in the wind after the opening 20km.

“I felt good but not great, I didn’t have the legs to be in the front selection of 8 riders that ended up going to the finish after the raced was ripped apart after 20km, I ended up in the chase group of about 25 riders behind this group and therefore I saw this race as good preparation for Sunday”

Of the nearly 200 riders to take to the start line on Friday only 36 riders finished the race due to the tough weather conditions. Lauren eventually finished in 23rd place but in good spirits for the main event of the weekend, the World Tour race on the Sunday.

“While 23rd is not a great result, I choose to see the positives of getting a good solid race in the legs that will help me for the next races, plus in these winds, I was happy to stay upright! many girls didn’t…”

Sunday’s Ronde van Drenthe is known as one of the toughest races of the Spring. This year the race featured 165km of racing including 11 cobbled sections and three times the Vamberg climb. The weather for the race was 3-4 degrees with high winds, hail and rain on the menu. All of this set up an epic edition of the Ronde van Drenthe.

Lauren didn’t have a good start, being out of position for the first key moment of the race at 20km, being caught behind two crashes. This meant missing the front group and chasing for 60km to return to the front of the race. After the final climb of the Vamberg with 60km to go, Lauren was in the front group of approximately 40 riders with 3 long cobbled sections still to come and multiple exposed roads with high chance of cross winds. After 150km of racing and suffering the race split to pieces as the peloton approached the final cobbled section, Lauren continued fighting to make the best of the situation but would eventually finish in 28th position after more the 4.5hrs of racing.

“I’m really disappointed not to have a result to show for today’s effort, but in reality with the way the race panned out I didn’t have the legs int he final after having to burn my matches early, it was an epic edition in Drenthe and for sure one I won’t forget for a while”

“I have a young team and it was definitely an experience for them this weekend, I think this experience will make them stronger and hopefully we can be fighting for some top 10 results soon”

“While I didn’t get the result I was looking for I did enjoy the racing and the suffering, plus I got a free mud mask!”

post race Ronde van Drenthe

Ready for the Classics to begin

Photo: Thomas Maheux

Lauren has now settled back into the European swing of things and is busy preparing for the upcoming classics season beginning on March 2nd with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad in Belgium. Lauren traveled to France to join her team after January’s Tour Down Under, then the team traveled to Cambrils, in Northern Spain for the preseason training camp. At the nine day camp the team had the opportunity to test their new equipment, including the new bikes with disc brakes, along with some spend some quality time in the saddle suffering together. With the great weather on offer, the camp passed quickly and it was soon time for the team’s presentation at Futuroscope, near Poitiers in France last week. This is a grand event for the team and its’ sponsors, giving the opportunity for the team’s sponsors, riders, fans and media to come together before the stresses of the season begin.

“I am really excited for the upcoming season with the girls and the staff, Im looking forward to getting started now, its been a long preseason and I feel like it is time to pin a number on and get stuck in.”

Photo: Thomas Maheux

Following the team presentation, the team headed to nearby La Roche Posay for a three day training camp with a focus on intensity and race efforts together.

“I am quietly confident of the team’s level this year, I have seen a solid step up across the board and Im looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this Spring and into the rest of the season!”

My Spring program is as follows:

Omloop het Nieuwsblad- March 2

Omloop het Hageland- March 3

Le Samyn- March 5

Drenthe 8- March 15

Drenthe WWT- March 17

De Panne- March 28

Gent – March 31

Ronde van Vlaanderen – April 7

Amstel Gold Race – April 21

Photo: Thomas Maheux

Lauren to Captain Uni SA Australia squad at Tour Down Under

Today Lauren has been named to the 2019 UniSA Australian Team for the Tour Down Under to take place from January 10-13 in Adelaide South Australia. This opportunity will give Lauren the chance to get a solid week of racing in following the national championships in Ballarat earlier that week.
Lauren has been named as the captain for the squad and will be the one to make the calls on the road and help to guide some of the younger riders making their national team debuts.

“I’m always looking forward to opportunities where I race in the Green and Gold, for me it’s a great chance to get a few extra days of racing in before I head to team training camp the week after in Spain. I am looking forward to being in a mentor role with some of the development riders and also looking for chances for myself as well as supporting the other strong girls, I think we have a really well balanced team and I can’t wait to get into it.”

The Tour Down Under takes place over four well balanced stages, offering some solid climbs and hard sprint stages. The GC will most likely be setup on the second stage with a finish on Menglers Hill. Last year Lauren and UniSA won the stage with Garfoot and will be looking to find further opportunities this year.

“The second stage finish is tough, there are most likely going to be some really strong climbers at the race and while this year we won’t have a favourite, I think we can definitely put up a strong challenge for a stage win and a solid GC result with a number of our riders.”

Before heading to the TDU in Adelaide, Lauren will take on the National Championships in Ballarat on Jan 6th and the TT on Jan 8th. Finishing 2nd last year in the road race has given Lauren some extra motivation heading into 2019 where the top spot is definitely the goal.

“I have been around the mark a number of times at nationals, I would love to win it, I know I have the legs for it but it all comes down to how it is raced and having a bit of luck as well. My goal is to be at my best for this period of the year, to give myself the best chance of taking the title.”

Lauren will then travel back to Europe to prepare for the Spring Classics via Spain for training camp with her team FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope.

Lauren ends the season by winning GP Isbergues

Lauren has ended her season in the best possible way by taking a solo win in the UCI french classic GP Isbergues on September 23. The victory was especially sweet coming after a difficult season, where Lauren has had to overcome a broken arm after a hard crash in the Spring.

photo; Thomas Maheux

“I was very happy and relieved to take the victory last Sunday in Isbergues, it was really hard to get back to top shape after breaking the crash I sustained in the Spring and this victory makes the hard work worth it. It is also the best way I can thank the team for their support of me during the recovery period and for their continued faith in me.”

The weather played a pivotal role in the race with torrential rain and wind present from start to finish. Lauren was part of a strong FDJ team for the race, with team mate Eugenie Duval attacking solo after just 10km and spending almost 100km solo in front. When she was caught with 25km to go, FDJ immediately began attacking and counter attacking again to regain control of the race. After a number of attacks from all the remaining team members, Lauren was alone in front with 22km remaining and continued to ride strongly at 20″ in front of the peloton for the remaining kilometres to win alone.

“The gap didn’t really change when I was in front, I just kept pushing and believing, with 5km to go I was thinking maybe they might start thinking about 2nd place and I could be lucky. It was defiantly hard out there, but I’m proud of my ride but also the whole team, the riders and staff as well. It takes everyone to secure a victory.”

“Now I will take some rest and recover and try to switch off a bit from cycling before I refocus on 2019 where I defiantly want to chase some more victories!”

Lauren extends with FDJ- Nouvelle Aquitaine – Futuroscope

Lauren is very pleased to share the news that she has agreed to an extension with the FDJ- Nouvelle Aquitaine – Futuroscope Cycling team. 2018 has been Lauren’s first season with the French registered squad after moving from WM3 Procycling last season.

photo Thomas Maheux

“I have really enjoyed my time in the team this season, I feel supported and valued here and I feel it is an environment in which I have the opportunity to help the younger riders in the team, along with the team leaders and to have individual opportunities when they present themselves.”

Lauren has finished twice on the podium this season, in the Australian National Championships and in Le Samyn des Dames. She suffered a setback in the Spring resulting from a crash in the Amstel Gold race ending with a broken arm requiring surgery and facial wounds requiring plastic surgery.

“My crash in Amstel was a bit of a setback, it took me quite a long time to feel normal again and I still notice a little difference, but thats part of it I guess. The team really supported me during this period, Im really thankful for this, Im a long way from home and family in France and the team really stepped up and it meant a lot to me.”

“Im looking forward to continue building my relationship with the girls and staff on the team and continuing to see what is possible in my abilities with a focus on the spring classics next season.”

Lauren will be racing in Sweden and Norway for the next rounds of the Women’s World Tour before the Boel’s rental Ladies Tour in the Netherlands and then racing in Madrid to finish off her season.

“It’s now getting towards the end of the season, Im proud to have got a few results earlier in the year for the team but I would like to finish strong for the team, so I’m motivated for these last races which I think suit my abilities a lot.”

Lauren preps for Scandinavian racing week

Lauren is heading to Sweden this week to compete in the next few rounds of the Women’s World Tour. The next rounds are taking place in Vargarda Sweden and in Halden in Norway. First up for Lauren and her FDJ team is a 42km Team Time Trial on Saturday before a one day road race on Monday. The team then moves north to Norway for again a team time trial on the 16th of August before a three day tour from the 17th to the 19th around Halden in Norway. The races offer challenging terrain, suiting explosive riders that can climb and sprint well. The racing is often dynamic with a number of race situations possible. The weather can also be a factor while racing in the north of Europe.

“Im really looking forward to these races, I missed them last year and that only makes me more motivated to return to Sweden and Norway, We have a strong team and I think we can be in the mix in all the races”

Lauren will be joined by fellow Australian, Shara, the two dutch teammates Moniek and Rozanne, along with two of the younger french stars; Maelle and Greta. This international team will look to show the FDJ colours and race aggressive.

Lauren is focused on this month of race after building a solid foundation over the past 2 months since returning to racing from her broken arm injury in April.

“It took me quite a long time to feel good in the races again after breaking my arm in Amstel, quite a lot longer then I thought it would to be honest, but last week in London, I finally felt fresh and fit and strong again and I’m hoping that my freshness after missing some training and racing earlier in the season will help me be more competitive later in the season.”

 

Lauren picks up the silver medal at the Nationals

Lauren finishes 2nd in the Australian National Road race championships

The road nationals premier event, the road race, took place around the familiar Victorian circuit in Buninyong, just outside of Ballarat today. The 102km event was a hotly contested event with the biggest depth in the field in recent years.

Lauren and her teammate, Shara Gillow, stuck to their plan and nearly stole the national title, only to be denied by a classy ride from Tibco rider, Shannon Malseed.

photo: Kirsty Baxter

Lauren was part of the early break, which formed in the opening 2km of the race. The trio of riders, including Jessica Allen from Mitchellton Scott and Specialized racing rider; Kate Perry built up a maximum lead of over 4 minutes at one stage and were only caught as they approached the final climb with 12km to go.

“It was definitely a big day out for me, I rode the whole race in the breakaway, I knew it was the best situation for Shara if I was in front, and also for myself to be able to make the selection in the last few laps.”

“We knew we had to reduce the Mitchellton Scott numbers to be in with a chance in the finish and we thought if I went up the road they would be forced to ride and burn a few girls and hopefully Shara and I could both be there to contest the podium”

The plan worked perfectly, with Shara making the elite selection of 6 riders to bridge to Lauren’s group as the leaders got the bell for one lap to go. Lauren’s breakaway companions were dropped as they started the final climb of Mount Buningyong, leaving Lauren and Shara as the team with the most numbers in the final selection of 7 racing towards the finish.“I really was hoping that Shara could sneak away between the climb and the finish straight but it just didn’t quite work out that way, she was heavily marked. Kat Garfoot attacked with about 2k to go and it was looking like the win, but Shara buried herself to give me the chance to sprint for the win, we caught Kat with less then 300m to go and Dash (Malseed) was just too quick for me.”

Photo: Kirsty Baxter

After spending 90km in the breakaway a silver medal felt like a win for Lauren and a great platform to build on for the next races before the important Spring Classics.

“I’m really happy with this medal, I mean I was close to the win and that’s hard to take but I’m also really happy to win silver this year, I didn’t get many big results last year and this is definitely a turning point for me and a great way to start the year with FDJ!”

Lauren and Shara will both ride as part of the Uni SA Australian National team at Tour Down Under in Adelaide next week.

Lauren to race TDU with National Team

Lauren has been selected to be a part of the Uni SA Australian National Team for the upcoming Tour Down Under. The race will run from Jan 11th until 14th around the hinterland of Adelaide in South Australia. The UCI 2.1 event will offer not only a great opportunity to race in front of a home crowd but with the race carrying a higher ranking, the quality of the field has increased and should offer fierce competition to kickstart the 2018 season. The stacked national team is lead by World Championships duel medalist from 2017, Katrin Garfoot, along with 2012 worlds medalist, Rach Neylan. Tiff Cromwell, an Adelaide local will add firepower and local knowledge. The fifth rider named alongside Lauren, is Lauren’s trade team mate, Shara Gillow, a 4X national Champion.

“I’m really looking forward to this race!, We have an incredibly strong team and I think it will be a great battle with a few of the squads over the four day race.”

The stages this year offer varied terrain with undulating courses for stages 1 and 3 and a hill top finish for stage 2. Stage 4 doubles as the People’s Choice Classic for the men’s race and will offer a lung busting criterium to finish the race. The varied terrain will suit the National team and give them each an opportunity to show their strengths and fight together for the victory.

“I think for sure we have one of, if not the strongest team in the race, I expect us to fight for the victory and that could be from any one of the girls, I guess we will see how we are traveling each day and back the girl with the best legs.”

The Tour Down Under will be hotly contested this year as it offers a moment to shine in front of Commonwealth Games selectors.

“I’d love to be considered for the Com Games, I think the course there suits me and I think I can be added value to the squad there. So therefore TDU is important to show my form and commitment to the team with an eye on the Gold Coast race in April.”

Lauren will first compete in the Australian National Criterium and Road Race championships next week in Ballarat, along side teammate Shara Gillow.

Lauren to combine track with road prep for 2018 season

Lauren has began her pre season training for the upcoming 2018 road season that will see her combine some track training in with her road preparations in an attempt to challenge herself and see what is possible on the velodrome.

“I’m excited to get some track training in this year in Australia, Its just something different and it makes the training fresh and its challenging which is motivating”

Lauren will add some state races to her calendar including the NSW Omnium championship taking place November 12 at Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney and possibly the remaining NSW state titles in mid December. Her focus is still firmly on the road preparations but the added opportunity to race so early will give Lauren and her coach, Brad McGee a reference point earlier then most years.

“I see these track races as a challenge and also a good reference to see what we need to add to my training in terms of speed work and what we can possibly do to improve for my big block of racing in January”

Lauren is hoping to compete in the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Road Race along with the national championships in January, however it is dependant on the national team being entered to race and the selection to this.

“I am preparing to race there, I want to be there, they are really nice races and I would the opportunity to fight for results there, but they are also important for Com Games selection and I want to have every opportunity for that team”

Lauren is preparing for the upcoming season at her Australian base in Port Macquarie, Australia with her family and support network. She works closely with her physio, massage therapist, strength and conditioning coach along with local support such as Rydges and Zebu and TRS cycles in Port Macquarie.

“I just love this time year, I am training hard and Im really motivated, having my support network is really key to my success and I think its that little extra that will get me across the line first next year.”

FDJ bound for 2018

Moving ahead with FDJ – In Lauren’s words;

I have decided to move to FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope for the 2018 season. This french team really caught my eye this year with their steady growth and appeared to be stepping up to the top level in an organised and professional manner. The management were eager to discuss with me last season and again this season and it just felt right to sign with them for 2018. The team really seem to value me and my input into discussions and their eagerness is what got them across the line for me. I am excited to join the FDJ family and to be honest it has sparked a new motivation in me for next year, like a chance to prove myself and work with new people along with my long term friend Shara Gillow.

I really believe that Shara has the potential to climb with the best in the world in some of the biggest races we have on the calendar and I’m really looking forward to playing a role in this next season.

There is just something about being with the underdog team that really gets me excited. I believe it is important in cycling to always keep moving, whether that is with new goals, new races, new roles or my case a new team, in order to keep the motivation and pressure pumping, never let yourself become comfortable, always push your limits and not just on the bike, in order to get the most out of yourself as a person

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Lauren signs with FDJ for 2018

With excitement for 2018, also come some sadness as I leave my WM3 team after only one season. I am very thankful for the support of WM3 and the friendship of my teammates throughout the 2017 season. WM3 is one of the biggest teams in the peloton and one of the key teams for each race they start, and it has been an honour to be apart of this. The dutch mentality feels very close to home with my family ties to the flatlands and the style of racing suited my abilities. WM3 is a top team with a top mentality to improve and I am grateful to have been apart of it.

Changing teams is an emotional rollercoaster. This time of year can be scary, nervous and exciting all at the same time. When I first considered the idea that I might change teams I was very upset and exhausted just at the thought, I mean new equipment, new staff, new team mates, new relationships to form on and off the bike with team mates, a possible new culture to adjust too.

All these thoughts had me in tears, I questioned how much do I want it? Is it worth it?

Do I have the energy required to go through a change again so soon after only joining WM3 this season? I questioned a lot of things about myself, my self worth and then came full circle to question what others think of me and if it was worth considering my future myself or waiting for someone else to decide for me. After speaking with my coach, Brad, and my family I decided to consider my options for 2018 and beyond and I’m really glad I did. My feeling to have signed with FDJ for 2018 is the opposite of my initial feelings towards changing teams, I feel valued and motivated, I definitely have the energy to forge forward and make 2018 the best year yet, both on and off the bike with a new culture. As my dad recently said to me recently,

‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’ so I can’t wait to keep moving.

FDJ I believe will give me the opportunity to prepare and race professionally and also support me to challenge myself with new ideas and opportunities. As a more experienced rider of the peloton I look forward to playing the road captain role with a younger french orientated team and sharing my skills and experience with them. Ill be challenging myself with the french language next year but at this point in my career, bring it on.