Aussie Aussie Aussie: Checking in with Giro Rosa debutante Lizzie Williams on day two

by Anne-Marije Rook


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

Read all her diary entries here.

Also be sure to check out Tiffany Cromwell’s diary as she is racing and writing about her eighth Giro.


Today’s mood: Floaty. I drifted around the pack a lot today.

Result of the day: 17th in a bunch sprint, the top finisher for Orica-AIS today. Teammate Valentina Scandolara also finished safely in the bunch to remain in the top 10 overall, but had to give away her blue jersey to stage winner Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM).


The racing:

With today being the first road stage, there were a lot of nervous and tense girls in the peloton. You could just feel it. One of my teammates got a mouthful from another rider, and in general there was a lot of elbowing, punching, screaming and yelling. But that’s bike racing, especially when you’ve got 100-150 bike racers trying to ride on a narrow piece of road. You can only fit so many riders on there.

In my head, I just had to constantly tell myself that I deserve to be up there and I’m as good as anyone else there today. As soon as you start thinking that you don’t deserve to be racing in the front, you’re racing at the back and that’s where all the accidents happen. You have to show your authority on the bike and that’s done either verbally or physically.

You got to have balls to be racing in Europe.

Going into the stage, we knew we do not have the fire power to have an eight-rider lead-out train and we knew it was going to come down to a big sprint at the end. It does give us a bit of freedom to be safe, sit in, and try and go for the sprint individually. As Valentina Scondolara and I did. Sarah Roy did a good job putting us in position, but still, it was hard.

I remember riding at about three kilometres to go and there’s a Velocio-SRAM train to me left and a Rabo Liv train on my right. It’s very hard to get on a train like that, and as soon as you are out of their slipstream, you are going backwards at about 100 miles an hour.

I never had someone helping me get into position before, and I learned a lot from today. You don’t sprint once, you sprint to get into position and then back it up with a final sprint for the line. After Sarah dropped us off, I should have sprinted for a better position, and then sprinted again.

I want to be up there. I want to fight for the win, not for 20th place. But coming away from it, I feel very positive. I held my head, I didn’t feel nervous and I rode in good position for most of the day.

Oops!

I did knock somebody off their bike today – accidentally!

We were descending – and descending is crazy here because you are going a million miles per hour and you can’t see the corners – and there was a sharp corner and everyone was slamming on their brakes because it was tighter than they thought it was. I had my rear and my front brake on and I was fish tailing. My rear wheel was locked up and about to come up [of the ground] when I shouldered a girl. Leaning on her kept me upright but made her lose her balance. She ended up falling over while I got a smooth run through the corner. It happened so fast, I can’t even remember what team she was in, and I felt really bad.

So to the girl I shouldered in that corner: I apologize! It was an accident.

Aussie Aussie Aussie…

At one point during the race, I was coming up the side of the peloton, trying to move through when I realized I was surrounded by Australians – there was Katrin Garfoot, Loren Rowney, Carlee Taylor and myself –and I thought: “Look at that. Look at all these Aussies killing it in Europe.”

And I yelled out, “Aussie Aussie Aussie!” and I waited for the ‘Oi Oi Oi’.

But it never came.

You gals left me hanging!

Funny story of the day:

Before the race I went to a bathroom in a cafe near the start of the race. I was wearing thongs -take note. After flushing, as I stepped out of cubicle, I found myself knee deep in water (and probably my own shit!). The sewage system had obviously not coped with the influx of nervous female cyclists. At this point, my teammate Vale was there and she bent over in stitches. I wasn’t happy. Note to self: never wear thongs to bathroom again. Gumboots instead!


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

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