Prudential Ride London Classique Preview

Prudential Ride London Classique Preview

The Prudential Ride London Classique is a UCI Women’s World Tour race, the highest level of race in professional women's cycling and a status it has maintained for the second year in concession. The race attracts manyof the best World Tour Women's teams due to it's unique venue and aggressive racing. It is also, famously, the richest race on the Women’s calendar, with a huge prize pot of €100,000. The €25,000 the winner takes home dwarfs any other race throughout the year.

I have taken part in the Prudential Ride London Classique ever since the first edition back in 2013, where I claimed second place behind multiple Olympic Champion Laura Trott.

The course is fairly flat with only a slight drag up Constitution Hill. The route passes Big Ben before turning left on to Whitehall and right on to the Strand, turning again to come back up the Strand in the opposite direction, before going through Trafalgar Square and Admiralty Arch and finally back on to The Mall.

As you can see from the description above, there are lots of corners for the peloton to negotiate. And due to the nature of this course, the race is always aggressive with many teams taking advantage of the twists and turns to encourage a break to get away. That said, the majority of teams go to the event predicting a bunch sprint, so have their team sprinter saving energy, while the remaining riders control the peloton, making sure they give their sprinter the best opportunity to cross the line with her arms aloft, celebrating the win.

You will be able to watch us roll away from St James’s Park at 17:00pm on Saturday the 29th July. We will race past the start/finish arena twelve times, so there is plenty of opportunities for you to cheer us on and see some of the biggest names in the women's peloton.

The Canyon/SRAM team for The Prudential Ride London Classique is Hannah Barnes (GBR) Lisa Brennauer (GER) Alexis Ryan (USA) Barbara Guarschi (ITA) Mieke Kroger (GER) Trixi Worrack (GER

The final stage of the OVO Energy Women's Tour

The final stage of the OVO Energy Women's Tour

CANYON//SRAM Racing have led Hannah Barnes to a commanding performance on the final stage of the OVO Energy Women's Tour today in central London. Barnes won both intermediate sprints and sprinted to second on the stage to catapult herself into third on the general classification. Her efforts also won her the Best British Rider jersey and the Most Combative jersey.

"It feels really great. We had the plan to go for the intermediate sprints which I won both and then I knew if I wanted to move onto the podium for GC then I had to get a result in the final. To come second at the finish and third on general classification it's a great feeling for me and for the team," said Barnes.

The 62km London Stage had the hammer down from the gun with a 9-rider move going clear in the first kilometre. Barnes made her intentions strikingly clear when she won the first sprint for bonus seconds from the breakaway group despite being outnumbered. At the second sprint Barnes had secured the Best British Rider jersey after a powerful lead out from all of her teammates, leaving the goal of a stage win and general classification podium remaining.

"I'm really happy with today. Coming to the finish you could tell that a a lot of people were really tired. To be that close for a stage win in a proper bunch sprint it's great. Jolien (d'Hoore) who won is a true sprinter and class act so to be so close is exciting for what can come," said Barnes.

The European and American riders from CANYON//SRAM Racing now race their respective national championships in ten days time before the team' s next stage race, the Giro Rosa in Italy starting on 30 June.

(Words by Beth Duryea)

 

The OVO Energy Women's Tour Preview

The OVO Energy Women's Tour Preview

To kick off my first blog for ŠKODA UK, whom I have recently partnered with to try to bring you some interesting insight and content over the course of this summer, I thought I would give a short preview of the upcoming OVO Energy Women’s Tour.

The OVO Energy Women’s Tour spans five days, careering through hundreds of different towns and villages across much of the British Isles. Each stage adds a different dimension and from the relentless lanes of the Peak District, to the technical circuit on world-famous Regents Street, the peloton will face an incredibly diverse set of challenges.

So below you will find a little insight into what I think will await the peloton during the five days of racing! 

Stage 1 07/06/2017 | Daventry - Kettering | 147.5km

Northamptonshire has been committed to the OVO Energy Women’s Tour since its very first year, when they held the opening stage of the race. As my home county, I am thrilled that the area has decided to hold another stage this year and I am sure it will be a great way to start the race.

This may look a relatively flat day, however with fresh and excited legs filling the bunch, we could see a lot of attacking during the day. The second ŠKODA QOM will be the main obstacle of the day, however since we raced up the climb in the 2015 edition, many riders will know what to expect. With the climb being 60km’s from the finish, I don’t believe a deciding move will slip away, but some damage could definitely be done if a few riders have the ŠKODA QOM jersey in mind. The finish in Kettering is the same as the previous two editions so again team’s will know the roads and specifically, how important it is to be in a good position going into the final kilometers.

I am really looking forward to the opening stage and racing on home roads. It is always special to have all the support out on the road, but all the more so when it is from family and friends that don't get to see me race very often. I hope I can give them something good to cheer for!

Stage 2 08/06/2017 | Stoke-On-Trent Stage | 144.5km

Stage two will be the second time that the Women’s Tour will have come to Stoke-on-Trent after hosting a stage finish in 2016. This year will see Stoke-on-Trent host both the start and the finish of the stage so hopefully it will be a great day of racing for the locals to watch.

The first 80km’s of the stage aren’t too daunting, however there looks to be a few potential launch pads for a small breakaway to go away and get a respectable gap in the closing kilometers, especially if the composition of the riders and teams is favorable.

Gun Hill, which comes 25km’s from the finish, could be the first opportunity for the general classification riders to show their faces and test the water. The sprinters and their teams will have to get their chase organised as soon as possible over the top of the climb so they can reduce the gap and stay in contention for the final. And with a technical last few minutes of the race sure to disrupt chase efforts by lining out the bunch, this stage could really come down to the wire!

Stage 3 09/06/2017 | Atherstone - Royal Leamington Spa | 151km

The stage is relatively flat, so I believe it will be a large group coming to the finish line to fight it out for the win, especially if we have seen some fireworks yesterday and there are some tired legs in the bunch. However, with both the ŠKODA QOM's coming close together in the final 40km’s, this stage could easily fall in to the hands of the opportunists of the bunch.

Stage 4 10/06/2017 | Chesterfield & Derbyshire | 123km

Stage 4 of this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour will take us through the beautiful Peak District.  If the general classification is still tight coming in to today’s stage, then these roads will provide the perfect terrain for teams to be aggressive and blow the race to bits. 

The whole day is lumpy, with the majority of the climbing coming in the first half of the race, which could make for some very tired bodies coming into the final kilometers. I predict there will be small groups coming to the line with only a number of riders contesting the sprint in Chesterfield. Look for your OVO Energy Women’s Tour winner to be crowned today, with ‘only’ the flat central London criterium left tomorrow.

Stage 5 11/06/2017 | The London Stage | 88.2km

Starting and finishing in Regent Street, the race will take on 14 laps of a deceptively hard 6.2km circuit. The crowds are always great racing in central London and the circuit will give them the perfect opportunity to see the peloton race past numerous times. The circuit is technical with many corners, some tight hairpins and some fast straights, meaning we will likely see one big final fast and furious bunch sprint to round off a fantastic week of racing around the UK. 

The OVO Energy Women's Tour will start on Wednesday 7 June and finish in London on Sunday 11th June. The Canyon//SRAM team roster will be myself, Lisa Brennauer (GER), Trixi Worrack(GER), Alena Amialiusik(BLR), Tiffany Cromwell(AUS) and Italian road champion Elena Cecchini.

The OVO Energy General Classification - first place on general classification

The Wiggle Points jersey – the rider with the most points from each stage finish. 

The ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey (QoM) – the rider with the most points from 2 classified climbs per stage. 

The Eisberg Sprints jersey – the rider with the most points from 2 intermediate sprints per stage. 

The Adnams Best British Rider jersey – Best British rider on general classification.

A little bit of January

A little bit of January

If you are an avid follower of cycling, you would have noticed around late October all live cycling disappears from your television screens. You are at a loss with what to do every Sunday afternoon from October to January. Those short but vital few months in-between the live action are probably the most important months of the year for professionals. Every training ride and interval session is planned and analysed so your next race, season target, goal is achieved. 

The 2016 season finished a lot later than previous season’s, so the time between racing finishing and racing starting again in 2017 has been a lot shorter than the norm. My team, Canyon//SRAM went to Australia, where they raced the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans road race. I wasn't part of the team that went to Australia. Instead of going 'Down Under' I was meant to be participating in the Tour of Qatar which was planned to take place on the 31st to the 3rd February but that was unfortunatly cancelled last month, so I have spent the whole of January in Girona and will be here until late February, training, readying my self for an exciting 2017 season to start, for me, at Le Samyn des Dames on the 1st March. 

Japan

Japan

Last year we (my boyfriend and I) didn't go on holiday thanks to me and my crutches, so I had decided well in advance that this year had to be double as special. With crutches a distant memory, when off-season finally came, a few weeks later than usual thanks to the October World Championships, we jumped on a plane and made our way half way across the world to Japan. 

We had planned twelve days, starting in the capital Tokyo and then travelling by train to a few different places. We had four days in the city, barely enough time to scrape the surface really, but we definitely did our best. We would leave the apartment before breakfast and get back after dinner, trying to fit as much into the day as possible. I’m not sure how accurate the Iphone stepometer is, but on our first day in Tokyo we supposedly walked 20km’s, after getting off the plane at 6am! I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced by that figure, but if indeed it is true, I’m pretty sure half of the km’s were from walking around the crazy underground system’s stations. 

On the second day, having walked ridiculous amounts the day before, we decided to take it a little easier. We met up with an old friend of Tao’s, Mie - a Tokyo local, who took us to a super cool flea market in a local shrine. There we found some little trinkets to take home as souvenirs including some Olympic memorabilia from the last time the games visited the city. When lunch time came, Mie took us round to her apartment and surprised us with the most colourful bento box (traditional lunch box), filled with delicious food. With every level of food that was revealed as she opened up the box, my jet lag seemed to disappear more and more! Who needs coffee…

Mie's bento box 

Mie's bento box 

The following day we made our way to the Tokyo SkyTree, the tallest tower in the world. The weather was a little overcast but that didn't take anything away from the breathtaking views of the city. I cant say I enjoyed standing on the glass floor 450 metres above the ground but it was definitely something that I won’t forget for a long time. Once back down below and firmly on solid ground, we hit the shopping street’s, of course completely different from those you would see in Europe, before finding ourselves sat in front of a very happy Japanese sushi-chef with a very sharp knife and incredible skills busy making us our dinner. 

Glass floor

Glass floor

After a crazy few days in Tokyo, we travelled to the mountainous region of Hakone. I had been doing some research on Japan while laying on a hotel bed in Doha and had read lots of blogs that said staying in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese guesthouse) was something you have to do. When we arrived at our Ryokan we were greeted at the door by an old lady who showed us to our room. Tao couldn't resist jumping in Ryokan’s absolutely boiling hot Onsen before dinner. We arrived in the evening so didn't see the breathtaking views of Lake Ashi and Mt.Fuji until we opened the curtains the next morning, but when we did it was an amazing surprise to wake up to.

Our room in the Ryokan

Our room in the Ryokan

Having awoken to perfect surrounding, in the most phenomenal setting, we fuelled ourselves with pastries (daily offseason occurrence) and made our way around the Lake, through the forest and to the Hakone shrine. Not forgetting the obligatory photo between the Orange Torri gate. We then carried on around Lake Ashi to a ropeway that took us to the top of Mt. Komagatake, where we would see the breathtaking views of Mt.Fuji. 

Mt. Fuji in the background 

Mt. Fuji in the background 

On our way to the Hakone-Yumoto station we stopped in a small town up the valley from Motohakone and visited the Hakone Outdoor museum. We spent hours walking round the ground’s taking in all the alluring work by artists from all over the world. We also had a great Gyoza stop as we made our way back to the station. Athletes need fuel after all…

Hakone Outdoor Museum 

Hakone Outdoor Museum 

After a very relaxing couple of days in the mountains we carried on south to the city of Kyoto. We had only been there an hour or so and were already sat in a cafe making our way through a big slab of carrot cake. More fuel… As we were walking back to our Airbnb a friend that Tao had met last year while racing the Japan Cup got in contact, and before we knew it we had been whisked away to the amazing Fushimi-Inari shrine.  After walking through thousands of vermillion torri gates to the top of Mt.Inari, we rewarded all this exercise we had been doing with a visit to our friends favourite restaurant in the city. I’m pretty sure it is now one of my favourite restaurant too, it was so good.

Fushimi-Inari Shrine 

Fushimi-Inari Shrine 

The following day we made the short 8km bike ride to the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Narrow path’s make their way through the thousands of bamboo tree’s and you spend your time, like everyone else, looking up at the swaying bamboo tree’s, trying to take it all in. That afternoon we made our way to the many shopping streets in Kyoto. We would walk out of one shop and into the next, normally with a sweet treat in our hand from the local food market that ran down the centre of the shopping district. Kyoto pretty quickly stole our hearts. 

Bamboo Grove 

Bamboo Grove 

To finish up our expedition around Japan we headed briefly to the city of Osaka. Rapha, one of my sponsors at Canyon-Sram, had asked invited us to meet, dine and chat with some of their members at their Cycle Club space in the city. I couldn't have asked for a better way to have ended our time in Japan, amongst such enthusiastic and energetic fans of the sport, and ticking of yet another RaphaCC from my growing list around the world.

Osaka RaphaCC 

Osaka RaphaCC 

The next morning it was on to the train back to Tokyo, but not before a quick visit to the Umeda sky building, after had been recommended to us the evening before. And I’m grateful it was, because the views from the top were absolutely exceptional, along with the incredible time-lapse video of how they created the buildings unique structure. To end of a whirlwind visit we got a take away lunch (yes more food…) from the huge food court at the station, grasping our last chance to eat truly Japenese style, and made our way to the platform for our final bullet-train ride.

All aboard the Shinkansen 

All aboard the Shinkansen 

What an experience and what a place. Thankyou to everyone in Japan who made our trip quite so special, especially all the chef’s!

The World Championships

The World Championships

Finally, it was time to pack my bags for the final trip of the season, the World Championships. We travelled out ten days before the team time trial was to take place. The reason for arriving in Doha so early was so we had longer to adapt to the heat before the race. We worked with a specialist sports hospital called, Aspetar who provided us with their knowledge and expertise to help us adapt to the heat as efficiently as we could. They would collect data throughout the time we were there to monitor our acclimatisation and also gave us advice to help accelerate the adaptations.

We trained most days weighing ourselves before and after to monitor our hydration. We would also swallow a thermometer every morning. This would record our core temperature throughout the day. During the individual time trial on the Tuesday my core temperature reached 40.9 degrees which is mad.

In the team time trial we came second which we were happy with. Yes, of course we would love to have won but when the whole team does everything they can to get the gold medal you can only be proud.

Our silver medals 

Our silver medals 

After the team time trial I moved to my third hotel of the trip and joined team Great Britain. I had two races left of the season, the individual time trial on the Tuesday and the road race on the Sunday.  There wasn't tons of pressure on me to perform in the the time trial but I of course wanted to. I was sixth off so got my ride done early and also got some time on the hot seat which was a nice surprise. It was my first time trial at a major championships so I was happy with 14th.

My next and final event of the week was the road race. We had power in numbers and were motivated for a hard and aggressive race. There were a lot of attacks during the race and we were always present making sure we didn't let anyone dangerous go up the road. Like we had predicted the finish came down to a bunch sprint and Lizzie came fourth which was a great defence of her jersey. 

The Great Britain Team 

The Great Britain Team 

It was a long season and I am definitely ready for some time off and a long over due holiday. This years holiday destination is somewhere I have never been but have always wanted to go,  Japan. Twelve days travelling around Tokyo, Mt Fuji and Kyoto with just a backpack. I can’t wait!