The show is over and now I can allow my body to completely slip into “sick” mode. The cold I have been refusing to let take hold has done just that..no voice, hacking cough, runny nose. Today I’m going to be the passenger no-one wants to sit near!
Yesterday was another beautiful day in an Austrian heaven; starting off cool so when I went out for a 30 min leg stirrer at 7am I had on a Gore-Tex sleeveless jacket plus leg and arm warmers, but later on ending up in the mid 20’s. More sun tan for display in Melbourne in a week’s time!
The 2km long Huberhohe grovel is the first challenge in our race coming about 1.5km from the start with a max grade of 11% and so its really important to get a good warm up…its terraced therefore you get a bit of respite occasionally. My race started at 1335 so at 1200 I was out on the bike again, spinning along the flat valley road out towards where the TT course is held. Then to wake the legs up I climbed the first part of the Huberhohe followed by more spinning along valley roads and finally it was time for the off.
In our class the split always occurs very early on....by about 500m up the hill in fact and if you don’t make that selection there’s no retrieving the situation - you’re out of the medals.
The weight loss I’ve managed since April really helped here and I was quickly at the front with the same two German ladies who were on the Time Trial podium with me …I was worried they might start to work together and against me, but they didn’t. I attacked and led over the Huberhhe and then we rode turns until the really nasty pinch at Schwendt, when I was attacking at the front again…ok lets be truthful, perhaps not attacking, perhaps just setting the pace. On that climb we lost Gertrud (2nd in the TT), but being bigger than Elisabeth or I, she managed to catch upon the following downhill hoon into Kossen.
At the roundabout in Kossen I managed to gap them a little, but they caught back up quickly and then it was up the last hill onto the TT course. Another unsuccessful attack up that hill and it was clear we were well matched on the day and that since the rest of the course was pretty well dead flat we were going to be sprinting for victory…so with that in mind I started checking out the other 2. I thought Gertrud would probably be the danger, although I felt that she was using up far too much energy every time she came through to take a turn at the front… she surged through very fast..much faster than was necessary, and also she must have used up quite a bit of energy catching us up after Schwendt..so she looked good and strong but….. Elisabeth looked like she was a one-pace rider and I doubted she had a sprint her in at all (mind you, neither do I!).
So we were together all the way to the last 500 m before the tactics started..Gertrud made a bit of a move which I covered and that left me in the lead, so coming into the final straight I pretended to be a trackie(!)..I kept right over to the left side of the road and with my head screwed around backwards, I kept an eye on what they were doing. I thought I saw Gertrud making a move so I started my “sprint” at about the 200m mark and held the front right to the finishing line!!!!! Apparently they were with me right until the last bit when I accelerated away..prob where I changed up a gear and then another. My legs were killing me but I was NOT going to sit down (on the wall in my computer room at home, I have a photo of me being beaten in a sprint where I was sitting down. It’s there to remind what not to do).
I had been practising riding no hands, arms in the air just in case (!), but couldn’t put it into action as I thought they were closer than they were, so I just got 1 hand up and also yelled and screamed ….yes I know, embarrassing, but me winning in a sprint is a rare and precious occasion and I celebrated!
So there you are. I have 2 more rainbow jerseys and 2 more gold medals, which is 5 jerseys and 15 medals in total. I also have to lug 2 HUGE trophies home..the TT one weighs 2 kgs, the RR one is 3kgs..I can see excess baggage charges happening. Worth it though.
Next stop Belgium with Alex to explore the WW1 trenches and associated history and to ride the cobbled hills of the Tour of Flanders , visit Roubaix and also ride the Arenberg forest (Le trenche of Paris Roubaix fame). Not on my bike though..no way am I wrecking my racing Teschner!…I’m hiring a MTB instead.
***Conversation while struggling into the rainbow jersey during the Road Race presentation by Ian Emmerson, the UK UCI representative:
Ian: “Hi Liz, congratulations! I thought I might mention something about the Olympics, but perhaps not!”
Me: “ Thanks Ian, no probs there, I’m immune. I’ve just spent the past month in the UK; it was a very painful time for me”