Tour De Vineyards 2011
What a great way to end 2011. I really enjoyed racing the Tour down in Nelson. I will be totally honest and say that I was not really in the best head space going into it. After 2011 being a year full of injuries and niggles I was trying to focus on becoming a runner, but annoyingly I was/am still having trouble getting any kind of consistent running going and less than a week before the tour I put a tear in my calf, we are still baffled as to how, but hey that’s a whole different story. So anyway it was great to get down to Nelson and surround myself with an awesome group of Triathletes and I was super happy to come away with the win. I apologise in advance if this turns into a novel, but in my defence it was a 5 day tour...
So there were no expectations heading into it and my main aims were to get some good hard sessions in and also to gain more bike racing experience so it becomes second nature to me.
The tour started off with a 10km TT Prologue on the Monday evening. My send off time was 5.10pm. I was pretty relaxed at the start of the tour and this showed when I turned up to the TT as the only girl with just a road bike set up. No aero bars or even little tri bars. But that did not faze me and I set out hard and managed to hold a solid pace and finish strong on a one lap, windy, tough course.
Waking up the next day to find out I was in 13th place, less than a minute behind the leader was pretty cool. And I felt both good and bad when I found out I had been given a 10sec time penalty for rolling over the line before the start. That would have put me up 2 places. I will file that hard learning away for next time.
The first stage was a 10 lap approx 5km circuit, on a mostly flat and windy but sunny course. It was a tough ride for me as I constantly had to think hard about positioning myself well and staying out of trouble. I felt I wasted a lot of energy doing too much at the front and riding in the wrong place at times. But in saying that I got through it and looking back, I achieved some more race experience and again learned some more hard lessons that will prove invaluable in the future.
I must admit this next stage is the one I was looking forward to the most. It is the type of stage where you can make up and put a lot of time into other riders with it being long and hilly. It was 130km and the last 15km a straight uphill climb.
Stage 2 started dry but cloudy. And straight away girls were attacking. I had made one of my goals the previous night to be patient and conserve my energy in the bunch, as 130km is a long way to race. Within the first 10km a group of girls had gone up the road including one of the best hill climbers in the race so I was a little concerned and sorely tempted to jump the gap and go with them as I really struggle to just chill. My nature is to go hard all the time. But I sat in and after the first QOM (Queen of the Mountains) climb at approx 65km the group up front had all come back to the bunch. After that it started to rain, hard. It then became a pretty pedestrian ride for the next little while with no one wanting to ride on the front. I concentrated on fuelling well and getting ready for the big climb. At approx 80km I saw a group of girls attack off the front; I knew instantly that I needed to go with that group as it had a lot of horse power. So I attacked off the front of the bunch and bridged onto the back of the group who I was happy to find were rotating well together and working hard. I settled in and we proceeded to put 4 mins into the main bunch by the bottom of the hill climb. I hit the bottom of the climb hard and kept going. After a few hundred meters I thought it sounded a little quiet so I turned around and was surprised to find myself all alone and with a large gap back to the other girls. I settled into a solid tempo which I knew I could hold and kept climbing. It was a hard climb but it was fun at the same time. I was getting time splits back to the group and knew I was putting time into them. By the top of the hill I was hurting but happy with almost 3mins back to Serena Sheridan in 2nd and over 4mins to Courtney Lowe in 3rd. Greg Fraine told me that it snows at the top of that hill – in summer.... After the race, whilst treating myself to a snickers bar, I reflected on the effort I just put in and the processes I went through to get to the finish line first, as I find this is key in helping to learn and gain experience. It was also a pretty cool feeling to have won a stage in the tour!
I then had to regroup and then refocus my goals slightly as now instead of just riding in the tour I was leading it with a bright yellow target on my back.
The third stage I wanted to defend my Jersey and make sure no one dangerous got away in any breaks. It was a 2 lap, 110km course with undulating hills and rain the whole way around. This would be the stage where someone would try take the yellow jersey. But between myself and Debbie Tanner we managed to jump on any break-aways and basically control the stage to suit us and I got around feeling strong the whole way. I was mostly pleased about that, as it just showed how much I have learned so far in regards to the tactics in bike racing and how to ride efficiently and conserve energy.
Heading in to the last stage I was feeling confident I could hang on to the jersey. It was a 16 lap, approx 2.2km stage where you were either going uphill, downhill or around a corner. After the first few laps I knew I had enough in my legs to sit in the front group and also be able to go with any attacks. There were many attempts at break a ways but no one got very far, so the bunch rolled around and I finished comfortably in the middle to take the overall Tour win!!
It feels good to have shown what I am capable of on the bike, and also how strong triathletes are at cycling. But now I really need to shift my focus and get the running going. It has been tough and still is tough for me with lots up ups and downs (I feel that I keep saying that). Ever since the surgery back in February I have not been able to find my running legs. We are trying very hard to be smart and sensible with a very slow progression. I guess all I can say now is watch this space!
Thank you to my sponsors and supporters who make this all possible.
AA Insurance, Sky Sport, Sportconnect, Performance Bicycle Tuning, Blueseventy and Triathlon NZ. Mum and Dad, Coach Paul and Physio Lou!
In : Teresa's Adventures