Racing is Hard
Tour de L'Aude
France, May 11, 1999
Here's a bit about what's been happening to me in this race. The day before yesterday we had a cat 2, another climb that was like the cat 2, cat 1, and an out of category climb. I hung in with the lead group for the first two climbs and then dropped off and rode the rest of the day with a Spanish Team rider. Leah Toffolon who was climbing well and descending poorly caught us and passed us. We then caught her and on the descent from the above cat climb she crashed.
The Spanish rider who I think is actually Italian and I rode the rest of the way (mostly downhill) to the finish catching Sybil DeGustini (Canada) a few km from the finish. None of us sprinted for the finish, thank goodness. It really bugs me when a group off the back starts setting up for a sprint for 70th place, kms from the finish. Let's just get to the line!
Leah's crash was pretty bad. She messed up her face and hand and knee. She started yesterday and finished, helping Giana, after a flat, along the way. She has been doing so well, impressing all of us with her riding and her toughness. I am happy to have her as a teammate here and in Idaho for HP next month.
Giana has been having bad luck and riding great. She got a flat at the bottom of a climb two days in a row. And then yesterday after chasing back on in super-pro style she was behind dorky Rasa Polikeviciute (Lithuania) who dropped her chain on a climb and fell into Giana.
Yesterday, with all the narrow roads and wind I did alright. I felt better than I had the day before and stayed up front pretty well until the first cat 2 climb where I was in the 2nd group. We caught back on, I moved up and had the same thing happen on the second climb. The group I was in, chased well through the very narrow roads, caught back on quickly with about 20km to go. At this point the little kicker rollers started. These roads too were very narrow and I had wrenched my knee a bit on one of the sharp, off-camber, steep corners earlier in the race, and started to feel the effects of that wrenching. Suffering to stay on wheels, I certainly didn't move up much.
The tail wind hit us leading to the finish line and gaps started opening up. If I come off the wheel in front of me, I always move out of the way so those behind me can get onto the group as easily as possible. Well, the French girls who were coming off quickly, just sat there. I didn't realize they had come off until it was just a tad too late. I chased and chased, keeping the gap to only 18 seconds at the end -- surprisingly.
Pam and Julie were in the front group. I saw both attack on the rollers leading to the finish. At that point, though, Petra Rossner's team was very interested in keeping things together for her to take the sprint in her convincing fashion, which she did. She is riding so well now. As is Ina. In these tours, I am always most impressed with the sprinters. Of course, the climbers get up the climbs. That's not always true for the sprinters. So, for those who do, it's wonderful to see -- fight, fight, fight and then win despite earlier difficulties.