And so we find ourselves at the end of the road season once again. In a strange way it has felt both very long and very short. For me personally it has been a slight upgrade from last year, but not without its fair share of challenges still.
Things started incredibly well at Tour Down Under back in January.
I had a great winter training block and went into it feeling really ready to race. Cue our best team result to date and a surprise personal goal of a WWT GC top 10 for me. Perhaps things started too well…
In the week following this I managed to catch Covid, and consequently couldn’t race Cadel Evans, taking the month of February to recover from this. Bit of a bummer, but the season was only just beginning, right?
March started ok, a few good races and some solid training after the illness, but then came the crunch point. A few days before I set off for my Classics block I got a knee injury. A sprained ligament in my knee from one of my cleats coming loose unfortunately. The nature of this injury meant all I could do was rest until it was healed. No Roubaix, no Gent-Wevelgem, no Flanders. April was the lowest point of the year for sure, and watching the races and trying to stay patient was the hardest part.
Many many swims, paintings, and a very long 10 weeks later – finally I could get back on my bike – all be it very carefully! I had 3 weeks before Nationals in June, and despite knowing I would be nowhere near my best, I thought it was still a good aim to have just to be there and do as well as I could without too much pressure on myself.
July was spent getting back up to race fitness and in August I had a small race plan coming together for the final part of the year. Ryedale GP (National race), Tour de l’Avenir Femmes and then Tour de Romandie Féminin to finish.
I was so happy to be back riding near to my best again, and although some of the races didn’t go amazingly well, it gave me a lot of hope and excitement for next year (more on this later…)
Perhaps, in a mirroring way to the start of the year, I had a nice unexpected surprise at the end of September. I was called up last minute to U23 Euros, which had been on my goals from the beginning, but of course due to the events of the season I had no expectations of going. And what a great way to finish! We had a really great race as a team, and it was a nice way to end things for me after a fairly turbulent season.
And of course behind the scenes there have been lots of other things happening too – I’m so excited to be joining Team dsm-firmenich for the next 2 years and looking forward to what we can achieve together. Team EF-Education – TIBCO-SVB has been a nice place to start my professional career, I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity. I am hoping that I can take what I’ve learned to continue to develop and progress as a rider in the next few years at my new home.
It would be nice to have a really solid Winter of training again, and I hope for a more consistent and successful season in 2024.
For now I must say though – I’m quite looking forward to watching all the cross racing coming up over the next few months. I won’t be avoiding the cold and the mud myself this winter, but it’s quite nice when you can watch somebody else do it whilst wrapped up in a cosy blanket, hot chocolate in hand.
Thanks for reading my blogs this year, I hope you’ve enjoyed the little insights into my life – both on and off the bike!
For more on what I’m getting up to check out my Instagram account: @abijesmith @abijesmith.art