Alright, the progressive rectroactive updates had to be canned due to a poor internet situation in Germany.
Right, so the detail I've brushed over was flying over to Belgium on the 12th of July for a month long project with the Juvederm-Specialized girls.
We packed up on July 12th and flew to Brussel to set up camp at the Team Canada base in Tielt-Winge, Belgium. A few days here meant a little bit of extra time to spin out the legs, do some TTT practice and wait for misplaced/lost luggage. Lex's bike box travelled around Europe to various airports for two days, while a box of our supplies (Eload and new team clothes (!)) was "permanently" lost in Toronto. The helpful airline company could only say well you know thousands of bags are lost each year. Great. Malcolm (our manager) managed to do some good sleuthing, and the box was located somewhere in the Toronto airport I believe...although it may also have been Montreal or Frankfurt.
Once everything was retrieved and ready to go, it was time for a drive across the width of Germany. About eight hours later we arrived in the little town of Altenburg Germany, in the region of Thuringen for the UCI race Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen. This was a 7 day 2.1 (the highest level of stage race) race. The field wasn't too big at about 95 starters, but it was about as stacked as it can be in the female cycling world. There were a few names missing but for the most part it was like a World Cup field.
Stage 1 was a very technical TTT. Everyone but HTC opted to ride road bikes in the end (advantage of Di2!) and they took home the win and first yellow jersey. It was a new adventure for us, but considering that went quite well!
122km road race. Wasn't exceptionally aggressive, but there were definitely tough parts, and it took a bit to get used to the European peloton a bit. Came down to a bunch sprint, that HTC's Ina Teutenberg won. I was in in the front group in 18th.
105km. Lots more climbing. Lots of rain. Hard day. Missed the split up over a major QOM. Well kind of made the good split, but I guess I was running on too little oxygen to keep my head working straight and failed to jump across to the front group with some other girls.
144km. Made up for yesterday by actually being aggressive and getting in the moves. Bridged up myself to a break that stuck...for 100km, right to the finish. It was a tough finale, and I only had enough sprint left for 6th place at the end. Regardless for me, I was pretty happy with that given the field and was rewarded with being one of the random drug tests for the day. Yay!
Only 95km. I say that only with a high degree of sarcasm. I think I burned as many kJ in the race as the 120k days. Makes them go by a little faster. Plus the great Hankaburg (after German cross star Hanka Kupfernagel) caused some carnage. Another tough day not in the right move.
19km. ITT. Legs still weren't so happy today and bike was a little angry too, but it was a fun technical course with cobbles, some technical descents, and lots of twisty turns.
100km. Circuit loop in Altenburg the town where we were staying. Some stellar cross wind sections, plus a 3 sec gap between 1st and 2nd in GC, plus a cobbled section in town through the sprint made for another tough day of racing. My legs had finally decided to be happy again, and I managed to keep myself in the front group. GC switched back to Emma Johannsen from Amber Neben to make for an interesting day all round!
Germany was a beautiful country, full of friendly cycling fans. We had really nice accommodations and good food. Although no matter what the racer sportif meals to get exhausting eventually.
mmm white food group
Solution? Nutella & Go in bed!
After the 7th stage we had the pleasure of partaking in an 8th stage - the 8 hour drive back to Belgium. Whoo. Got through that ok too.
We've had two days back at the base in Belgium now and then we're off to Sweden on Thursday.
Looking forward to that leg of the trip for sure. #1 It's two World Cups. Always fun, ridiculously hard racing. #2 I've never been to Sweden before!!