It has been a while since my last blog but so much has happened and there is a lot to look forward to with the UCI women’s calendar finally having some tour racing coming up. The biggest change and news that has happened with me is my recent team transfer from Belgium based Lotto Honda Team to Norwegian based Team Hitec Products UCK.
Many of you are probably wondering, why the sudden change mid-season between teams when from the outside everything looked good. Lotto Honda Team has been around for many years and has grown over the years; it is a strong team with a good race calendar. They gave me many opportunities in the short time I was with them but internally I was having a few problems, the biggest was the lack of racing I was doing. We had a big roster there with 16 riders, and with the state of the current women’s calendar it is too many riders for the amount of races on offer. It didn’t end up being a good fit for me.
Being just over a year out from the Olympics the qualifications for spots have opened. For me, like many, it is a dream and a big goal to represent my country at the Olympics. With this it means 2011 and the start of 2012 are very important to make sure you are racing well and recording strong performances. This is hard to do when you’re not racing.
Ultimately I was unhappy with my current situation and spent much of the first part of the season after the first couple of races struggling for motivation, form and trying to find my old determined self.
Changing teams mid season isn’t an ideal situation but it was something I had to do for the future of my career as a professional cyclist and my general happiness. Everything happened so quickly; about two weeks ago the manager from Norwegian based Team Hitec Products UCK contacted me to see if I was interested in coming to his team. They have a small roster but do a lot of racing – they race much of the UCI calendar along with national races in Norway, so they were looking for another rider to add to the roster as they have had girls out with sickness or injury.
From first contact it seemed like a perfect fit for me. I was already guaranteed starts in the next couple of UCI races and the team in general sounded like a well-organised, professional and nice team. It is a strong team made up of mostly Scandinavian riders along with a German and now an Australian. Current Swedish national road champion Emma Johansson leads the squad, and I’m looking forward to racing along side of her instead of against her. With the mid season transfer period open by mutual agreement, I decided to leave the Lotto Honda Team and sign with Team Hitec Products UCK for the remainder of 2011.
Over the weekend I flew up to Norway for my first meeting with some of the team and management and also had my first race with them. I was excited, I had always wanted to visit Scandinavia but never had the opportunity to. Norway is a beautiful country from what I saw, but apparently it is even nicer in other areas - I think I will have to come back for a holiday sometime.
The best thing about starting with a new team or the start of a new season is that it is like Christmas all over again. On arrival to the team hotel I received my new Scott team bikes along with clothing and other bits and pieces. First impressions were great, my new teammates were lovely and made me feel welcome, and the manager was welcoming and very easy to deal with.
While I was up in Norway we competed in the third round of the Norwegian cup, a 5 race national series in Norway. It was a solid race and a good welcome back to racing after a month and a half drought. We experienced crazy weather conditions with 4 seasons in one day, sunshine, rain, hail, thunder and lightening; I don’t think I have ever raced in such conditions before. We were a team of 3 for this race as most of the team was racing in Spain at Bira, but we rode hard and strong with the ambition to win. Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish it off as it came down to a small bunch sprint and the two of us left aren’t the strongest sprinters.
The following day we raced in a short 4km uphill TT. It wasn’t a true uphill TT as the first half was false flat but it was still a good little hit out. There’s not much else you can do except go full gas all the way so that is what I did. I had an ok effort but I know I have some work to do to get back to full race fitness but hopefully it shouldn’t take too long.
Currently I am back at home in Monaco for a few days before heading to Italy for Giro del Trentino, a hard 3-day tour in the Trentino region of Italy. It will be nice to meet more of my team mates and get back into the European peloton as I continue building my race form heading towards the women’s Giro d’Italia in July.
I would like to thank the Lotto Honda Team, my teammates, sponsors and everybody involved with the team for the time I had there and the opportunities I was given. Also to Team Hitec Products UCK for taking me onboard for the remainder of the 2011 season, I’m looking forward to see what the rest of the season will bring.
Until next time, thanks for reading!