The 2023 season has flown by. I am not sure if it was having the World Championships in the beginning of August that made it seem so different but the second half of the season has gone by in a flash! Maybe it’s just the fun I continue to have with my team Lidl-Trek. As the off-season approaches it has me reflecting on the second edition of the Tour De France Femmes avec Zwift. As races go, this is quickly becoming THE race of the season and the one that everyone wants to race and be in their best form for. This year we started away from Paris and many wondered if the crowds would still come but there was no doubt from the moment we arrived at the parking that we were going to have great support from the get go.
It’s hard to describe what this race means for us as riders and as a whole peloton. Of course there is the sentiment that we can finally race a Tour de France and no longer just dream about it. But the thing that stands out to me the most is the reach it has – worldwide – and the way it is already inspiring so many people of all ages. As an Australian it also feels special that the Australian broadcaster SBS stay on the ground in France to cover our race and bring the best coverage to everyone watching at home. Familiar faces, voices and accents also always feel comforting when we are on the other side of the world too.
As races go, it sure was a rollercoaster for our team this year. Much like a lot of our season has been we were struck with bad luck and illness again which eventually saw the departure of our leader Elisa Longo Borghini before the queen stage. Everyone has stories of misfortune during a season but this year certainly hasn’t been an easy one for Elisa… but if there is one thing I’ve learnt this year being teammates with her it’s that she always keep fighting. I know she will come back stronger.
Despite the hard moments there were so many good memories. The Tourmalet stage was a definite highlight for me on the bike. It was a moment where you could really feel the history of cycling and of this race and appreciate how far the sport has come. The Tourmalet is the most visited summit of the Tour de France and one I remember watching on tv as a young girl. The fact we could make history there on that day felt special. But I won’t lie. It was also brutal. I went empty halfway up and honestly could have walked the last kilometres quicker than I rode. I am sure many spectators can confirm that. I finished empty. And when I say empty I mean I had to be helped off my bike and then force fed Haribo to get some energy back again. Epic day and as I said… memories for a lifetime!
On the tech side of thing it was also very special to be racing on the new Trek Project One ICON bikes. Every rider had a different paint scheme . My one was the real smoke – red smolder paint scheme in both the Emonda and the Madone. Check it out below. A thing of beauty!
Speaking of beauty my other favourite edition to our team bus for the Tour was a Ted Lasso “Believe” sign at the exit of the bus made by our press officer Amy. If you aren’t a Ted Lasso fan then you definitely should be but in short the sign symbolises Ted Lasso’s coaching philosophy based on belief and perseverance. It inspired and motivated both players and coaching staff. Its addition to our bus was just perfect and tapping the sign each time we left the bus was a must.
One thing I have realised is that the TdFF is one of those races that always leaves you wanting more. Last year my race ended prematurely after a nasty crash and this year I finished 10th on GC but we definitely came to the race wanting a lot more than that. We left the Tour this year feeling like we still have unfinished business. Everyone has the dream to win a stage, to stand on the podium at the TdFF but the reality is that so few will ever achieve this. I think that is what makes it so special at a race we all dream to succeed in. We didn’t get there this year but the dream is still alive and will continue to motivate us every day between now and next year. In the words of Ted Lasso… Believe!