“I feel like a burnt sausage”: Checking in with Lizzie Williams after stage three of the Giro Rosa

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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.

Word of the day: “Cooked. I feel like a burnt sausage…on the barbecue…shriveled and fragile.”

Result of the day: 66th. Around the 30-kilometre mark, Lizzie attacked and managed to open up a gap. Riding off the front solo, she quickly extended her advantage out to over a minute. The peloton let her dangle out there for a bit but reeled her back in around 500 meters from the top of the only categorised climb of the day. A nine-rider breakaway formed soon thereafter, which included Orica-AIS teammate Valentina Scandolara. The breakaway was successful and Scandolara sprinted to second place.

Read more about the race in the Ella stage three race report.

The racing: on the attack

It was never the plan to go off by myself! Our plan was to be very aggressive and to get in a break. We had Spratty [Amanda Spratt] and Kat [Garfoot] have a dig first, and when the bunch sort of set up, I went.

And no one came with me…

I established a solid gap straight away and so I thought: “What do I do? Do I keep going or sit up?” We probably should have discussed this scenario in our team meeting. I went at 30km or so, so it’s pretty much a death-wish if you’re going solo. Especially in 37 degrees. I was hoping some riders would come across but it just didn’t happen.

Gene Bates, our sport director, came up at one point and said: “Just keep going. You’re looking good. See if you can make it to the GPM.”

But the peloton is too good at bringing back a rider at the perfect time, and they caught me 500 metres from the top.

One thing I need to work on is riding in that sub-threshold zone. It’s quite an art to be able to get in a rhythm and hold it at that pace. So it was a good practice for me but it was tough.

Lizzie stage 3

After I was caught, Sarah Roy attacked and Vale [Scandolara] countered, which established the winning break. It was a great team effort from everyone today.

After the break took off, I got caught behind a few crashes. I didn’t hurt myself, but my bike got caught in one gear –the biggest gear on my bike! I put my hand up and was dropped back to the front of the caravan, when my team car passed me at a million miles per hour, not seeing me, to go up to Vale in the break.

So I was stuck in my biggest gear for about 10 kilometres. When I tried to shift in to my small chainring, my chain fell off and got wrapped around my crank. I watched the peloton go off in to the distance as I stopped on the side of the road.

What the hell was I going to do?

Luckily, the spare car came and let me hold on for a ride to the back of the peloton. Finally my team car came back, and I got a bike swap. There were about 20 kilometres left at that point and the chase had intensified. By this time, I was just…I was fragile.

But it was a great result for Vale to get second, especially because her family was there and because she had come up to me in the morning saying she wasn’t feeling good. I reassured her that everyone is in the same boat and that half-way through the race, she might feel better. And there ya go! She got second in a stage at the Giro.

How to recover after a hot, long stage

    • I usually come back and take a cold shower.
    • We get a quick, 20-minute rub: a flush out of just the legs and the glutes.
    • Eat and drink: It’s hard to fuel properly when it’s so hot. I’m already to the point where I’m struggling to eat, but I know I need to take in whatever I can.
    • Compression tights and legs up as much as possible.

Supposedly, all these things combined will help me ride better tomorrow. Fingers crossed that will happen!

Team car gets another tow ride

Our transfer took longer than three hours today because our car got a flat and we didn’t have a spare tire. So we had to get it towed. That’s the second tow ride in three days!

Tomorrow, I’m definitely looking forward to a shorter day. It’s the flattest day in the tour and definitely a sprinters stage. Well as “definitely” as anything at the Giro Rosa.

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

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