Giro Donne 2021 – Etappe 1 and 2

Where we came up short on day 1 in the TTT, we made up for it in stage 2 to Prato Nevoso, ‘three double’…

 

When we went up on the podium for the team presentation this morning (stage 2 – 03.07) and I heard the organization name all our Team SD Worx riders in Italian with their respective honors list, I had to focus for a while so as not to get emotional. Because man, what an honor it is to drive in such a strong team, and it has gone so fast…

Two years ago, I stood there, like a ‘broekie’, a ‘newbie’, with a very nice team. This was my first Giro Donne, in my first professional year. Last year, 2020, I didn’t ride the Giro Donne, but now I’m here, with such a mega team… And I don’t have the worst legs either, I have proven that! I am proud, proud to be part of this fine group of top athletes and staff. Proud that I made it already so far. It also makes me grateful!

 

Personally, I was not completely dissatisfied with our team time trial yesterday (stage 1 – 02.07 – TTT), even if it was the worst team time trial ever for Anna, Chantal and Danny. For me it was one of my best, if not the best. Never before I have raced in such a strong team, such a team time trial. Yes, of course, I also saw that we really screwed up at the end, but I think in this case, as a new team together, it was not so bad. It’s just a mega difficult discipline and I think you never stop learning in this discipline. Also, I think that you will almost never ride a perfect team time trial. That is just very difficult and rare and so I see yesterday mainly as a good lesson!

 

Today (stage 2 – 03.07 – uphill mountain finish to Prato Nevoso) was special!

So, I already felt that a bit before the race, on the podium at the team presentation. I didn’t feel too good in the race. Getting used to the heat I think, maybe some crazy legs after yesterday’s TTT. Fortunately, I was able to handle a cold-water bottle along the way, with the most handsome caretaker (my boyfriend Jan)! That kept me awake at the start!

But suddenly there was the run-up to the final climb to winter sports area Prato Nevoso. Chantal (Blaak) and Elena (Checcini) set the remaining peloton at a killer pace. This gave me all the motivation to stay up front and alert.

At the start of the climb Niamh (Fisher Black) flew away and hurt everyone. It was up to others to lead the way and try to close the gap on our race climber. When Niamh was taken back, it was the turn of another race climber in our team: Ashleigh (Moolman-Pasio). She hurt everyone one more time. Then it was the turn of the best climber, our world champion: Anna (van de Breggen). In no time she was flown and on her way to a beautiful solo. Ashleigh rode behind Anna ahead of the remaining group and watched me drive the whole time. However, I did nothing more than sweep up everyone behind her and I waited neatly in the wheels of the competition. An attack in my group was my perfect moment. I jumped after it and then immediately over it again and had a hole. The competition came from Cavalli and García, among others, they came almost back to my wheel. I dropped my pace a bit, so they dropped it too, and then I went one more time. Now I managed to break free again and only Cavalli kept a good 50-100mm behind me. Eventually she came back strong into my wheel, after which I stopped riding. Now it was up to her, because Ashleigh was still driving in our sight.

We had a lot of encouragement along the way, especially for Cavalli of course, because she is Italian. Most people shouted: “Dai dai dai Cavalli!”.

However, in some corners my name and that of the rest of the team were painted big on the road. In the last corner before the finish, I even had the best fans cheering me on! If I had had any doubts about my abilities on this tough climb, they disappeared like snow in the sun with these familiar faces along the course. Especially when one of them is my great love…!

 

Another 250 meters to the finish… For a moment I doubted whether I would leave the battle for place 3 to Cavalli, so that she could celebrate a party with her fans in her own country. But competitive as I am, I couldn’t let this happen. I stayed in her wheel until about 200 meters from the line and then sprinted past her…

 

They call it a clean sweep! A 1, 2, 3 for Team SD Worx! After a 15 km climb, we had hurt everyone and each other. That hurting each other is also something that makes us stronger, what makes us such a strong team! You know what your teammates can do and based on that you also know what you can do yourself. We make each other at our strongest!! On to the next stages!

 

Now it is time for a long journey of 2 hours, before we are in the next hotel. That also gives you the time to write this blog for you. After arrival at the hotel, massage, dinner and to bed!

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