Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lauren Stephens recounts Day 1 of the Giro Rosa for Team TIBCO

Giro Rosa Stage 1

Today was my first day to race in Europe and I could not have had a greater opportunity than this. The Giro Rosa is the biggest stage race in women's cycling; what a way to start my international career.

The atmosphere was something I had never experienced. We were celebrities and the stars of the show. We went to sign in as a team like you see the men do in the big races on tv, photographers were everywhere, fans were excited, little kids were getting autographs. Everyone had a kind word for us, too bad i didn't understand what they were saying!

My teammates advised me that all the racers nerves would be high in the first day. Of course this meant to stay towards the front to avoid crashes and chaos. To start things off right we went to the start line as a team so we could stay together and move to the front quickly. The first sprint, for points and time, was a quick 10km into the race. Manel Lacambra, our director, had warned us leading into the sprint the course would be technical.  We entered the town through a tunnel followed by a U-turn then a series of turns before we arrived at the sprint. The field so was strung out!  I had never seen a women's field so long which meant I had found my way too far to the back of the race.  Each town had a mixture of pave and turns to make it a bit more difficult. I learned my lesson quickly and was sure to be towards the front of the field as we approached each town.

Once we made it through the first couple of towns we were on wide flat roads along the coast. A few teams tried to form some breaks but nothing ever stuck. We rolled along towards the finishing town were we would do a two lap 15km circuit that made its way between two towns. The first lap was relatively safe but as we began the second lap the riders became a bit more aggressive. Several crashes happened in the corners as we passed through town. I luckily made it through them all safety. My teammate Shelley got caught up in one but was back in the bunch quickly and safely.

As we approached the last turn, still 3km to the finish, I had my teammate Claudia Haussler, or GC threat, on my wheel she wanted to move up so we did. I found Shelley so I left Claudia with my teammate Jo and moved up with Shelley. After three or four near crashes in the peloton I found my way right on Shelley's wheel at 1k to go. We thought it was a little to far out for me to make a move so we waited. Shelley got through a gap that closed on me so I was pushed back, not able to help for the last push to the line. Shelley freelanced and sprinted to 7th place but it wasn't our day, I know with my help and a little luck Shelley can get on the podium.

The whole race was a great experience and to find my way in the mix at 1k to go was a pretty nice feeling too. I feel like I belong in these races and can't wait for the 7 days ahead.

Lauren Stephens
Team TIBCO

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