Gelderland ...One Day, One Chance

Now don't get me wrong, I love what I do but there will always be that moment when you're getting ready for a race, road or track, and you think “I wish I was watching this bike race and not riding it” Every cyclist has done it. Even if they don’t care to admit it. Whether it be the terrain, the weather or in this case the number of riders and the circuit.


Having never ridden Gelderland I was relying on information and tips from my teammates to try and visualise what I was about to face over the next 138km. There is something daunting about racing on a new course, especially a one day race. Tours can be a little more relaxed because every day but the last “there is always tomorrow”. A one day race is a whole different kettle of fish. Its game on from the get go and in Holland the odds of the wind being up and the race going on small farm roads are high, so position is everything. There is no tomorrow should something go wrong.


To say the race was action packed is an understatement. The 7km neutral section was supposed to see us safely out of town.  But this didn’t prevent a number of crashes with riders failing to safely navigate the road furniture[1], resulting in a a very nervous peloton. Once out of the city, the roads opened up and I was able to get myself up to the front with my teammates. Strength in numbers was the aim of the game today. After 25km we reached Arnhem. Now this is where the bike race really started with 6 categorised climbs. For me there was no choice but to be front and centre, climbing isn’t one of my strengths.


The next 80km was a blur. Once we hit the hills, crossed the dykes[2] and went through the first passing of the finish line at 122km it had been flat gas. There was no time to look back. If there were 10 people in front I was too far back. Seemed stupid at the time but when we passed under the start finish with 16km to go having nearly been dropped I was now at the pointy end of the bike race with 4 teammates and 15 other riders. I had survived, so far!


The shootout began with attacks left right and centre. I was in survival mode and just hanging on. Kirstin Wild had no team mates for company, so all the other Teams, us included, felt they had exposed her Achilles heel, but Kirsten was not to be shaken off that easy.  With just under 4km we lost Gracie, she came down hard on a gravely corner, it left us with 3.   Emma was up the road with a couple of girls including Kirstin with 3km to and I was with Loes. Loes asked me “do you think you can sprint? I replied “I’ll give it a crack”. 'Back yourself in they tell me’.  Loes bridged the gap to the leaders with 900m to go and me on her wheel. I got myself into a good position and did what I know what to do best, I grovelled. I felt like I was rowing a boat in the last 200m, I probably looked like it too. Ugly hurt face and insane lactate levels but I made the Podium, a 3rd place which I know wouldn’t have been possible without my team. That I am certain. Sometimes when you don’t have faith in yourself, it takes a teammate to throw you in the deep and make you fight for it.


Single handily Kirsten had bridged across to every attempted break away and went on to win the bunch kick in fine style. A deserving winner. Everyone threw the kitchen sink at her and she still came out on top.


As for me I have my teammates to thank.

Racing like a team is one thing but when you race like you’re family, now that’s something else. That’s something special.


Race Report and photos: