Fleche Wallonne with Penny Rowson

It was my first world cup and actually my first time to feel nervous, something i don’t feel much with my easy going personality

Fleche wallonne, such an amazing race and experience. It was my first world cup and actually my first time to feel nervous, something i don’t feel much with my easy going personality. I knew personally my preparation leading up to the event hasn’t been ideal in terms of training and with this in the back of my mind i didn’t have a clue what to expect racing against the best in the world. Matrix have achieved top 30s in every race so far this season and that was a real positive to take forward into such a tough prestigious race, we were confident, we were organised, we were stripy, we were ready.

Penny 2
Leading up to the race we stayed in a lovely farm home that made the team atmosphere fun and relaxed as we enjoyed the surprisingly warm Belgium sunshine. We were joined by photographers from trek both who had different approaches to ‘capturing the moment’. Emily, a bubbly American who blended into the team so well you forgot that she was even taking pictures and Vittorio, an Italian who didn’t speak too much other than the common photographers phrase; ‘have you seen my lense cover?’

On race day we went out there gave it our all and did the best we could. Christina attacked from the off while I had to concentrate on positioning and placed myself comfortably in the top 20 so i could slide back on the climbs. Having a goal like that made it easier to focus on the job in hand and the kms soon went by, I gave my all and was pleased with how that went. Riding myself back through the peloton I collected team mates along the way helping them stay out of danger and get back to where the action takes place, at the front. As we reached the famous Mur de Huy there was no hiding from the all or nothing brutal climb. The feeling was indescribable, the pain in your legs like no other, the encouragement from the roaring crowds, the mental blur as you battled your way up the almighty brick wall. The field was split to pieces due to a test of power and strength. Molly and Laura held their own with good finishes to secure another top 40 in a world cup. We were all really pleased with how the race went, we gave it our all, put ourselves in the best position possible and came away with the best results we could, you can’t ask for more than that! I look forward to coming back stronger and taking on the Mur for round 2.

Laura in Peloton 2

Once back in the Uk there wasn’t much time for rest as the next prep was for the Cheshire Classic a hill not quite as mentally challenging but still 13times is a wearing down process on the legs.  Again I wasn’t sure what to expect after spending the day before sat in lectures but we had a positive approach after many podium finishes in this race previously. We went into the race with a man down, our host and top chef Elinor was a great teammate the night before doing her part to look after us as she was unfortunately unable to start.
The reigning champions perlizumi had a strong line up with quality as well as quantity, we expected nothing less than attacks and a hard day in the saddle. It was a really active race from the off! Many of the teams organised themselves and cracked on, the win was up for grabs and everyone was firing down the road. With a few dangling out there, it was a roll of the dice which combination of riders would stick.  Eventually the break of the day happened and I was in the right place at the right time to go with the moves. Archibold, Juniper, Rowsell, Rimmington, Crumpton, Nelson, each were fast riders all from strong teams on paper the break should have been the winning move. However, I’ve podiumed in this race before and taking sprinters and two riders from one team to the line meant I was outnumbered and would have been the risky option, the decision by matrix to bring the move back was a challenging one but the right one.

Penny 3

We didn’t come here to risk losing, we wanted to risk winning by put all our eggs in one basket for the win and with Laura’s out and out sprint we had every confidence in whether it was from a peloton or a small group. Laura proved our tactics right as she did win the bunch kick with the correct delivery; however there was Sarah up the road meaning we were sprinting for 2nd. After all our efforts we couldn’t respond to everything, it was the winning move, chapeau. A hard fort battle, we gave our all and are pleased with second. Another race where we did the best we could do in the situation we were in. I do love working with these girls.

Photo by Hugh Williams
Photo by Hugh Williams

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