Race Diary by Lauren Franges, Team Victory Brewing
Day 1: Thursday June 30th, 2005
Today we had a day to get accustomed to the life of being in Italy; we went for a beautiful ride and just took in all of the sites there were to see. We are realizing very quickly just how laid back the Italians are and everything will be done tomorrow. It is a nice relaxed way to live I think.
Day 2: Friday July 1st, 2005 – San Vendemiano, Italy
The first day of racing begins. It is a 1.7km prologue, and we started racing in the dusk so by the time the later riders went off it was dark with no lights except for the motorcycles in front of you. It was a standard straightforward 4-corner course. A time trial bike would have made a big difference, since I was not really comfortable on my clip on bars that I had on my road bike, but it was a great way to start off the race and a good introduction to racing in Italy.
Day 3: Saturday July 2nd, 2005 – San Vendemiano- Caerano Di S.Marco, Italy
Today was a day we thought to be decisive, and it was to some degree. We started with a nice warm up pace for about the first 40kms before we hit a short circuit that we completed 5 times before heading to the finish line. The circuit was fast, hard, and no recovery. There was a 1 km climb with a fast decent and then you hit the climb again. It was pretty relentless, and a small break got away on the second circuit.
After we headed away from the circuits we had 20 km of racing left, which included a 6 km climb followed by a 6 km decent and then 1.5 km into the finish. The climb was hard and the front-runners were making their moves. I climbed at my steady pace, and managed to stay within the caravan because the climb was narrow and the last 3 km were pretty steep.
The decent was technical with a lot of switchbacks, but I had a lot of fun with it and caught back up to two groups that were in front of me. I was satisfied with how the day went today it was a good day to be immersed in the peloton and get a feel for the racing in Europe.
Day 4: Sunday July 3rd, 2005 – Caerano Di S.Marco- Melara, Italy
Today was 122 km and we were loosing elevation from the start to the finish. It was a fast day, and a great motor pacing session. There were a few moves that tried to go, but we were pedaling into a headwind the entire day so nothing got to far up the road. We came into a very fast field sprint, so again today was another wonderful day to get accustomed to the field and the language that is thrown at you when the euros are upset.
I have been enjoying my time so far, the team is great, it is a wonderful mix and things are always exciting. Northern Italy is a beautiful country and all the people have been exceptional and hospitable. We have had loads of pasta, chicken and tonight was a treat with pizza. Our souigneurs have been treating us well making sure we are eating and drinking plenty. We have a few more days in the flat lands for some more motor pacing before we head into Switzerland for some climbing.
Day 5: Monday July 4th, 2005 – Bergantino- Chioggia, Italy
Happy 4th to everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful day.
We had a great time harassing our British souigneurs today, and they were taking great pride in harassing us back all in good fun.
Today was a 129.4 km day, and it was flat as flat can be. It was another great day of motorpacing and getting a feel for the peloton. I was off the front for about 10km today and got some great TV coverage over here on Italian TV (it wrote out my name and everything). The finish was chaotic and I was overwhelmed with the way the euros race into the small towns on the tiny roads. So it was all we could do to just finish same time, and not go down in the many crashes that were going on around us.
Day 6: Tuesday July 5th, 2005 – Castelmassa- Ceneselli, Italy
Today was 118.2, and it was a long day. We all got a really good taste of the gutter for about 60 km of the stage today. We had really strong cross winds that ripped the field apart and it was all I could do to hang onto the second field that had formed.
I think this was also one of my first days feeling the jetlag, and too much pasta sitting in our stomachs from all of the previous meals. I think after a certain period your body can only handle so much pasta, and today might have been the breaking point. Laura had a great finish today with an 11th, and she is starting to understand how the sprints are playing out, much different from the states.
Day 7: Wednesday July 6th, 2005 – Castiglione D/S, Italy
We are back into the climbing stages, and what a way to start this 111 km stage today. I should have known that today was going to be long and hard when before the start our mechanic came to me and told me my bike was broken and I would have to ride the spare. This was not good news, but I made the best of the situation and tried to get the bike as comfortable as possible.
Right from the gun the pace was high as the first QOM was 1.7 km in, and it was a steep one. You can tell when the pace is going to be fast when all the euros are fighting for a good spot on the line. That should have been our first clue.
We made it through the first QOM to be followed by a hard day with a lot of steeper climbs and high paces, and really fun technical descents. I hung on for as long as possible with an aching back and neck and then rode the rest of the way to the finish with a new Italian friend that I have made. I have never been so happy to see the 1 km to go banner.
Day 8: Thursday July 7th, 2005 – Cirie- San Francesco Al Campo, Italy
Today was a shorter day for 94 km, but had some steep kickers to zap some more energy out of our already tired legs. After some more adjustments to the spare bike, I was feeling more comfortable besides the sore muscles from the day before. We did a few different circuits today, so we got a good idea of what to expect as the race went on.
Chrissy put in a great effort with 30 km, but we ended up catching her as we crested the 1st of the 2 QOM’s. I knew if I went into them in a good position I would be okay and could surf the group to the finish. I made it over the first climb at the tail end of the first group, moved up some on the 2 km descent and gritted my teeth over the last QOM.
A small group was slightly off the front, so I went to help bring the group back for Christine. I recovered quickly and tried to make a go for it with 5 km to go, but the group was eager for a field sprint. So I hung in the group and was getting ready for the finish. Coming into 1 km to go I was about 25th or so, out of the sprint basically. With about 500 meters to go a hole opened on the right and I took it. I went straight to the front and pulled even with the eventual stage winner and the sprint was started. I hung on for 6th, and was pretty pleased with the day. In hindsight there were a few things I would have done differently, but you live and you learn.
We had a long transfer today to the start of the stage for tomorrow, but it was a beautiful drive through the Alps into Switzerland and gave us a great preview of what we have to look forward to over the next two days of racing, lots of piano for me I think!!
Day 9: Friday July 8th, 2005 – Naters- Blatten, Switzerland
Today was a 7.6 km uphill time trial with an average of a 9 percent grade, so in simple terms, a hard day of suffering. Switzerland was beautiful and we were just getting into what they called the “Baby Alps”. I was worried to see the real Alps. Today was important to make the time cut for the rest of the stages, and everyone on the team did a great job suffering through.
Day 10: Saturday July 9th, 2005 – Briga, Switzerland- Domodossola, Italy
Today was an epic day, 69 km with 40 km being down hill. Now that is my kind of racing. Unfortunately for me the first 22.6 km were all uphill on a nice steady grade. At the start of the day the groups were quickly formed and it was time to settle into a nice rhythm for the next hour and fifteen mins. Then it was time to take over and go fast!!! This was probably one of my favorite stages, it was in a beautiful area and how often do we race up 20km climbs?
Day 11: Sunday July 10th, 2005 – Varese- Milano, Italy
The last day, and we all made it to Milan. We were hoping for a day of opportunity, but obviously what was left of the peloton was hoping for a field sprint. We took off from the gun with a blazing fast pace; it made the day go fast. The finish of the stage today ended with 6- 5km circuits…lots of turns for a feeling of familiarity of home. We are done and it was a great experience, and I am looking forward to more.
Day 12: Monday July 11th, 2005 – TRAVEL HOME
I am on my way home, and everything has been pretty smooth for the most part. I am looking forward to some rest and relaxation, no pasta and over cooked chicken, and hearing the English language again. Northern Italy was a great place and some day I would love to go back and actually spend some time touring around and doing some shopping!!
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