I arrived in Belgium on the 24th of March after a long flight from Melbourne. It was great to finally arrive, meet my new teammates, the team staff, and receive my team kit and bike! I had spoken to some of my teammates during the Zwift academy finals and in the time following, but to meet everyone was very exciting. I’ve been warmly welcomed, and have been rooming mostly with Ella Harris. Neither of us are neat freaks, so it works well!!
Dwars Door Vlaanderen was my first race on March 31st, a week after my arrival. This race is also known as a “mini Flanders”, as the course is similar, but the distance is shorter. It was confirmed that I was a starter two days before the race. Having ridden the course recon a few days earlier, I knew it was going to be a hard race with bergs, cobbled sectors, and the potential for windy conditions to play a factor.
I had been dreaming of lining up to the start of a race with the world’s best riders since I started racing 6 years ago!
However, I didn’t think that I would be racing at this level, at the age of 18 and I feel very grateful for the opportunity to be here. I don’t generally experience nerves, but as I lined up, I was both very nervous and excited , and it all felt a little bit surreal!
The race was hectic and like nothing I’d experienced before, Firstly, there was 165 starters. In Australia you’d be lucky to have 40 women in a national event. Secondly, the cobbles and the narrow roads are new to me too. My main concern was positioning as this was imperative in such a big bunch. As this was my first race with the team, I didn’t have a crucial role to play. My job was to stay near the front as best I could, and go with an early break should one go.
The race stayed together for the first 50km or so before riders started to get dropped. Around 70km in, the front riders started drifting away. I ended up coming through the finish line at 86th place with a bunch of around 50 other riders. I would have liked to have been closer to the front, but overall, I was quite happy with my result. The main focus for me is to gain experience, learn from each of races, and assist my teammates in any way I can.
The team had a great day out, coming home with two riders on the podium. Kasia Niewiadoma in second place in a break behind Annemiek Van Vleuten and Alexis Ryan winning the bunch sprint to come in third. It was a great feeling being a part of such a strong team with so many inspiring women.
Thanks for taking the time to follow my journey. Happy cycling!