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Tour of Chongming Island, China: 2

Tour of Chongming Island

Tour of Chongming Island

Thursday the 12th & Friday the 13th of May. Stage Two & Three; 118.4km & 79.3km.

The tour of Chongming Island has been quite a struggle for me this year! Last year I had a little success here riding with the Australian national team. I was on the podium in the tour and finished third in the World Cup! Although, I did end up in hospital after returning to Italy, with pneumonia (fluid on the lungs) and a serious chest infection which kept me off the bike for nearly a month!

To spite being more cautious this year I’ve not felt good since the day I arrived. My symptoms from day one were achingmuscles and joints, and hot/cold shivers, which have kept me awake during the nights. I’ve had a busy start to the season with lot’s of racing so it’s possible that my body is just entering shut down mode, asking for a little rest. Sorry little body, one more race on Sunday (World Cup) before you cancompletely shut down for a few days!

Tour of Chongming Island

Tour of Chongming Island

Yesterday’s stage started off very slow! At the 25km mark nothing had happened, the bunch was just cruising along and everyone was chatting away. Vicki and I decided to make a quick stop as nature was calling- as I said on stage one, it’s unusual to need a stop in such short races, is it something about China or is it the slow racing? We both needed to go!

As Vicki was chasing back to the bunch, HighRoad decided to put the hammer down at the front. There was a sprint at39km’s. The bunch had really strung out so it took us the next 10km to get back to the front! I slipped onto Ina’s wheel one kilometre out from the sprint; Emma Johansson took the sprint, Ina second and I was third. The bunch regrouped after the first sprint and resumed their slow pace. It was so slow for the next 35km’s that a few of us fell asleep and lost concentration!

HighRoad had certainly been controlling the races here in China and most of us expected them to attack or string the bunch out following the second sprint- but to our surprise, they turned up the gas about 5kms out from the second intermediate sprint, and then it all happened so fast! I was relaxing mid bunch with my teammates when the race suddenly went from 25-30km/hr to in the gutter with crosswinds at 50km/hr! Six HighRoad women drove the front of the bunch creating a breakaway group of 16-18 riders. I, and my teammates missed the split and the lead group were out of sight by the time we could see ahead of the wheels in front of us. We knew we had completely stuffed up! The first time check/gap within 4 minutes was 50 seconds!

Tour of Chongming Island

Tour of Chongming Island

Who knows if we would have been strong enough to stay with the lead group but a lack of alertness and bunch positioning deprived us of the opportunity to have a go, we were so disappointed in ourselves. My three teammates drove our group to the finish, decreasing the gap slightly to the leaders. They never gave up, as you never know what’s happening in the lead group. It was a tough day for us physically and mentally.

Ina Teutenberg won stage two from the break and increased her lead in the tour. I was 19th, very disappointed and still concerned about my health.

The third and final stage was 11 laps of a 7.2km circuit. It was flat and fast with wide roads. We had raced on the very same circuit last year.

Today’s race was rather uneventful as HighRoad are just too strong, they were again able to control the race by neutralising the threatening attacks immediately, or controlling the gaps to riders lower on GC, until they got tired and drifted back into the bunch.

Even though HighRoad worked really hard yesterday, and spent most of today on the front of the bunch, they were still able to pull off an impressive lead-out that no one could contend with! I was on Ina’s wheel with 1.5km’s to go and she had a few teammates in front of her. As we took the final left hand turn with 300m to go, Ina hit the brakes or freewheeled for a moment, I was shunted as I expected I’d need max power out of the corner, as I hit my brakes- I was swamped and my sprint was over with 200m to go. Ina was yelling at her lead-out riders to go while she had created a gap out of the corner. Ina’s teammate/lead-out rider Chloe Hosking took the win- she must have rode very strong from the last corner! It was an impressive win, and equally impressive was Ina’s last moment acceleration to pass a small group of riders for second!

Tour of Chongming Island

Tour of Chongming Island

Not only are HighRoad hands down the strongest team here; they’re also the smartest team here! Their strategy yesterday was very well thought out and what about today, who expected Ina to sacrifice another stage win with 250m to go? If we were to give it a lot ofthought of course it’s a smart move- everyone is fighting for Ina’s wheel, watching her, and waiting for her to make a move, and a mistake! Chloe Hosking is one of HighRoad’s valued domestiques- known best for her speed/sprint and lead-out strength, she probably worked really hard to set Ina up for the win yesterday so it’s great to see her have an opportunity and to take an impressive win today! Highroad won 2 of 3 stages, the overall GC, the points and team classification!

The WORLD CUP is on Sunday so I’m hoping for a bit of a turnaround with my health and form- not likely but possible!It’s not so fun to race below your best!

Sunday’s World Cup will be 136.3km, starting at 10am. The course is predominantly flat but there is a significant bridge climb at the 54km mark and again at the 63km mark- after making a U-turn. The bridge climbs are only 2km’s but it’s the wind that plays a big role in splitting the bunch. It’s likely that the bunch will split on the bridge, then it’s a matter of whether the breakaway continues or if the group comes back together for a large bunch sprint.

More on Sunday!

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