UCI World Cycling Tour Final 2015 Road Race
On 6th September 2015 I was on the start line in Aalborg, Denmark representing GB, about to do my first women’s road race. Luckily the torrential rain from the day before had moved on and it was a bright, sunny day albeit very windy. The participants had all qualified by finishing in the top 25% of their age group at one of the 13 UCI amateur events held across the world. My qualification event was The Tour of Cambridgeshire over an 82 mile road race where the women were mixed in with the men.
Ahead of me was a 72 mile, closed road classical course with three to four intermediate climbs over rolling, undulating farmland. They set all the women over 50 years old off together, although you were racing in your specific age category bands. Different coloured numbers meant you could identify who was in your age group.
The claxton went off and we were led out by a race car which neutralised the start for the first 2k which controlled the peleton to get it safely out of the town centre. I stayed well up the front at the beginning and it was quite hectic avoiding things in the road like drains, kerbs and islands whilst keeping your place with the other riders in such close proximity. I can’t remember exactly when but there was a sudden surge on an uphill section and the group pulled away. In the strong winds it was hard to close the gap and gradually the front group got away. Packs started to get spread out quite quickly and I stayed with a group of about 11 for the rest of the race. The wind was so strong coming over the fields that sheltering in a group was the only option. The majority of the riders were in the age group below and about three were in my age group. I learnt at the end that the next set of 7 riders behind us all crashed at a junction.
It was a thrilling ride averaging 20mph. There were four of us quite dominant and working together in the front and I remember them as South Africa, USA and a fellow GB. As the miles clocked up on my garmin I was starting to get tired and then we were back in the town centre. There was a scramble for the finish line which was slightly downhill and then that lovely feeling that it is all over. Such an incredible day. Coming in 8th place in three hours and 39 minutes, about 2 1/2 hours in zone 4 and a first for me, 10 gels!!!!