Our first week and a half in Europe has been so hectic that I've barely had a chance to catch my breath. After our epic trip here we made it in to Tielt-Winge with 2 days to spare before we needed to head of to the North of Belgium. That trip up North was for the Tour of Flanders. It is a World Cup for the women that runs on the same day as the Pro Tour classic Tour of Flanders. We had a day to go check out the course and see the vaunted cobble climbs, a day to relax in our nice bnb in Bellegam, and then it was race time. It was a big one for the first Euro race of the year but things settled out pretty smoothly. Despite getting bounced around a lot the cobbles were pretty fun, especially with all the big climbs at the end. Joelle lay down a fierce sprint for 3rd, with two up the road. I had scraped my way into that lead group and finished 26th.
So time for a day off right??
Not so fast. The next day there was another UCI race, a smaller one, only 5 minutes from our hotel - GP Dottignies. Everyone was a bit tired but the team was active with Leah K getting in an early break, Rhae scooping up some sprint rushes and the rest of us trying to get off the front. Leah pulled out a good finish in a hectic sprint rolling in 7th. Oh yah and we'd all done the race before so assumed we knew what was coming. Except the normal cobble section on the big loop had morphed in to a massive cobbled climb.... and there were cobbles on the finishing circuit too. They must have been inspired by Flanders that year.
Then it was finally time for a rest - for one day. We booked it back to Tielt-Winge, did a mad laundry rush and were off to Holland the next morning for Energiewacht Tour. Whew. It was a five day tour with six stages.
1 - Prologue: Went pretty good. Rhae was 9th overall amongst some pretty fast TT'ers and I went fast enough to be the best young rider, so got the white jersey to start with.
Stage 2 - Thankfully they'd given us thermal classification jerseys because it was frigid. Like 3 degrees with everyone wearing as much clothing as possible. Everyone must have wanted to ride hard to warm up because the race shattered in the cross winds. Leah K and I made the first front split, but missed the "break" along with the yellow jersey and 2nd in GC. Whoops, no more white jersey. But Leah had scooped up enough sprint points to get to wear the orange sprinters jersey in lieu of Vos wearing it.
Stage 3 - Another fast, windy, guttered day. We survived. Leah got more sprint points to take command of the sprint classification.
Stage 4a - Position is everything in Holland and we were line up tooooooo far back at the start for this one. The split went just after the neutral ended and there were 7 in the front group. 7 of the strongest in the world so that gap just kept on growing no matter how hard the groups rode behind.
Stage 4b - Team Time Trial. Always eventful when you haven't practiced it as a team, this one was no exception. We managed to hold it together though and come in as the 6th team.
Stage 5 - I think everyone was mentally and physically tired. I mean the whole pack. A group rolled off early - from those lined up at the front again and we just rolled around the rest of the day. No stress.
Since we've been back we've been sleeping, resting, getting a bit bored,
doing some coffee (or hot chocolate in my case) rides - Note the YK ski loppet buff (it's that cold),
Today has a little pre-race ride on tap and then we've got a 1.2 UCI race in Belgium tomorrow.
Unfortunately it conflicted with the Houffalize MTB world cup nearby. We all really wanted to cheer on the Canadians that have been ripping it up.