Yesterday five of us stood on the start line, freezing cold, ready to race GP Stad Waregem. As far as Belgian national races go this is a pretty big race; the men’s race, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, is run in the along side our race and has the same finish line, with the men coming into finish about 20 minutes after our race. And so there were a big number of riders on the start line. At 77km this would be the shortest race we’ve ridden this year.
The team came into the race with a clear set out plan from our DS, Stef, and we were all ready to race as hard as we could for the team, to execute the plan. Today Lucy Martin was our protected rider. Although we wanted the race to be a sprint, after discussions we decided with the amount of riders in the race it might be better to sprint from a smaller group, and so if the group hadn’t been broken down naturally over the course of the seven laps we would be pro active and cause the breaks to happen.
As for what happened in the race… usually in a kermesse the racing goes off fast, the bigger teams want to get rid of the weaker riders and maybe get an early break to stick. Our plan was to keep near the front and keep an eye on the moves but not to particularly put our noses in the wind for the first few laps, leaving us fresher for the second half of the race. Coming into the second half of the race it was more down to us to go with moves, it was an aggressive race and also the kind of race you are constantly battling to keep position and move up.
Unfortunately for the team we missed the crucial break of the race, with two Liv Plantur riders escaping the peloton five and a half laps in. With just under one lap to go we spoke to each other about the effectiveness of a lead out for Lucy if there are two riders away, and made the decision to chase. At this point there were four of us left in the peloton and with Christina ready to help Lucy in the sprint, me and Molly fought our way to the front to take up the chase. Although most teams missed the break there weren’t that many willing accomplices to help with the chase. Being a new team and not having done that many races with each other we are still learning about each other and we have to hold our hands up and say that the chase was slightly chaotic, and as a result the girls stayed away, with only seven seconds on the peloton.
In the sprint Christina was there for Lucy, however wet conditions saw Lucy caught up in a crash on the last corner, not all was lost though as Christina was up there, she took the bunch sprint – a podium for the team. Other than a few cuts and bruises Lucy came out of the crash unscathed and will live to race another race. Every race the team do together we learn more about each other as riders and as people and this reflects in the next race as communication between us gets better. Yesterday’s race showed that we still have to learn about chasing back moves and every race will show something, but with a productive and honest post-race team meeting led by our DS we can learn quickly. This weekend the team will be racing Gent Wevelgem and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in!