Slovenia, lucky rocks and a little bit of bike racing: Checking in with Giro Rosa debutante Lizzie Williams on day one

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It’s 9:30 p.m. in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Aussie cyclist Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS) is enjoying some down time before her massage. She just finished the two-kilometre-long prologue of the Giro Rosa, coming in in 14th place, six seconds behind winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla).

“I was trying to get in the top-10, but I was just out,” she comments. “I think it’ll take time, you know, in racing against the best. I just have to train a bit more.”

This is Lizzie’s first time at the Giro Rosa, the longest (and only) Grand Tour on the women’s calendar. To give you all a-behind-the-scenes look of what it’s like to race at the highest level and at one of the most prestigious races in women’s cycling, Lizzie agreed to do daily check-ins for the next 10 days of racing -no matter what might happen.

Today’s mood: Chipper. When I was warming up today, Valentina said I looked like a boxer with my gloves on. So I guess I felt like a boxer today.

Result of the day: 14th. Teammate Valentina Scandolara got seventh and was the best Italian rider of the day; therefore, she will be sporting the blue jersey in tomorrow’s stage.


Being part of the 2015 Giro Rosa:

This is my first Giro Rosa and the biggest race I have been involved with (yet). It’s exciting to be a part of the biggest race on the women’s calendar. All the best teams are here. This truly is the highest level [of women’s racing] and I can’t go any further than this without going to the Olympics or something like this. Being a part of this, and being able to race at the highest level makes being here very special for me. Last night we had our team presentation and had to get into our lycra at 10 o’clock at night and ride our bikes up on to the stage. We had these guys – these podium boys –handing us roses. It was all a big spectacle.

Other than the team presentation, we’ve mainly spent our time relaxing and getting ready to ride. So far, everyone’s chipper. I’m sure the real personalities come out when everyone is tired and under the pump!

Ljubljana is really beautiful. It’s like a mixture of old and new. It has beautiful old building with clocks on them but at the same time, it is modern as well, and everyone speaks English. We are enjoying while it lasts. Although, we are looking forward to some Italian coffee — the coffee isn’t that good here so that’ll be one bonus about going across the border into Italy.

Speaking of food. We eat our meals with all of our opponents here, which I find a bit weird. You’re at a table across from Pauline [Ferrand-Prevot], the world champion,  and all the other girls you’re racing the next day, and you can’t help but take a look at what they’re eating or talking about.

The racing:

I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’m just trying to take it all in and enjoy the experience.

My teammate Sarah Roy crashed out in one the U-turns today.  Her chain snapped and she went over her handlebars. She is alright but it was a bit disappointing. It’s a course that would have suited her.

And I had a total novice moment today.  Just before I was rolling out of the starting gate, I toppled over because the man did not grab me! My feet were clipped in so I fell over in front of everyone. The crowd laughed and I got up and waved. Novice mistake! It was like a traffic light stack.

Fun fact of the day:

Valentina rides with this lucky rock. So I asked her after the TT: “Did you ride with your lucky rock today?”
And she said: “Yeah I had it in my sock, in my bootie.”

What happens if she crashed? As she did during the warm up yesterday. She crashed going around a corner too quickly. That rock could be indented in her leg!

We’ll be checking in with Lizzie again tomorrow after stage one. In the meantime, there’s lots more Giro Rosa content for you to enjoy on Ella!


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