Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) is on double duty for Ella CyclingTips during Thüringen Rundfahrt. We’re keeping her busy over on Ella Instagram with a #TaylerTakeover, and every evening, she calls to give us a run-through of her day at the eight-stage German Tour.
Tayler rides for a German-registered squad with a largely German staff and three German riders (including two national champions). For more than half her team, Thüringen Rundfahrt is a home a tour – a home tour that they are keen to win.
An 11-rider breakaway that escaped just inside the opening hour of racing on stage five at Thüringen Rundfahrt held off the peloton to contest the finish in Gera on Tuesday. American Coryn Rivera, riding for her national team, out-sprinted Jermaine Post (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Chloe McConville (Orica-AIS) to the top step of the podium.
Nineteen seconds later, Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) led home a group of four that split from the main bunch on the local lap that closed out the stage. Race leader Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) finished alongside Johansson, Amy Pieters (Netherlands) and Lotto Lepistö (Bigla).
Brennauer keeps the yellow jersey heading into the penultimate stage of the seven-day tour with a 29 second advantage over Lepisö in second. Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) is tied on time with Lepistö in third.
SMASHING START TO THE MORNING
I haven’t exactly been sleeping well since we’ve arrived in Germany. It’s so hot, and, of course, there is no air-con at our hotel, which is exactly as awesome as you imagine. This life on tour business is really glamourous.
I was completely exhausted last night from the cumulative lack of sleep, so I made the decision to sleep in as long as my body would let me and eat breakfast whenever I woke up. The normal breakfast time for today was 7-9 a.m. and lunch was from 10-11 a.m.
I had noticed that they had left breakfast out until lunch was served on other days and just assumed they would do the same thing today. My plan proved faulty. I failed to consider that 9 a.m. might be a strict stop to breakfast. I should have known– we are in Germany, after all. They like their rules here. I went downstairs slightly after 9 a.m., and there was no food anywhere.
I felt slightly panicked initially. Breakfast is a pretty big deal to me, but I decided to just ask someone at the hotel if they could help me out. I found a woman who was involved in our meal times in the past, and I asked her I could have some eggs. Every day there are scrambled eggs and boiled eggs, so I thought maybe there might be leftovers. She spoke to me in German and said a lot of words – the gist of which was: “No. No, you cannot have any eggs. You need to wait until lunch at 10.” She was not pleased with me.
While I was feeling super sad about my situation, I crossed paths with my swanny, Lars, who saw me and immediately asked: “What’s wrong? Are you ok?” (Like I said – breakfast is a pretty big deal in my world.) I explained my breakfast-less status, and he asked me how he could help. I told him it would be really great if he could somehow round up some eggs for me.
Lars tracked down the same women that I had spoken to only a few minutes earlier and asked her if he could have some eggs. And she handed over eggs to him, which he handed over to me. Problem solved. I ate pasta and eggs for breakfast. Actually, that was breakfast and lunch. Brunch. A not-so-exciting brunch.
AMERICAN COFFEE DATE
Coryn [Rivera] and I have been talking about having coffee together for days, but there are no coffee shops anywhere around our race hotel. Well, there is a McCafe, but neither of us would ever stoop so low. We’re both complete coffee snobs.
I usually travel with beans and an AeroPress, but my grinder broke, so I don’t have my coffee-making goods here. It’s been rough. When Coryn invited me to come upstairs for a pour-over coffee, my morning made. All the Americans were hanging out in her room, so my coffee came with some quality chats, too.
I’m the only American on my team this year, which is different than in previous years, so it’s always nice when the US National Team is around – and the group here in Germany is an especially good group.
My teammates don’t really understand my sarcasm – especially the team management. If I say something sarcastic to my German team director, he’s completely confused. The Aussies are the only ones that have a similar sense of humour to me, but none of them are here right now.
I can always count on the other Americans to get my jokes and be sarcastic right back at me. It’s good to get a little taste of home with them on occasion.
BIRTHDAY CAKE IN BED
When we spoke to Tayler on Wednesday, she told us about how the team had given her some birthday love – she didn’t yet know that the best was still to come.
The birthday cake was amazing – and the whole thing was actually pretty funny. I was laying bed, feet up in the air, on FaceTime with my mom. I had headphones in, so I didn’t hear the whole team sneak into my room and come up behind me. It wasn’t until I saw glowing candles on my FaceTime screen that I even turned around. They all started singing happy birthday to me. It was really cute and thoughtful and just a nice surprise to end my day. And the cake was delicious, too – it was white cake with some delicious cream frosting topped with fruit.
When I woke up this morning, I realised that I had forgotten to talk about the memorial for Amy Gillett at the start of the stage four yesterday . As I’ve said, we have to be so mentally switched on during races that I pretty much switch off the moment that racing is done, but the experience is still very much on my mind.
The sit of the accident that killed Amy 10 years ago was on the race course – about three kilometres into the race. They extended the neutral section today, so we weren’t yet racing when we rolled up to the site. We all stopped, and every Aussie and all the girls in a race jersey put a flower on the memorial. Kimberley Wells, who is the Amy Gillett scholarship winner this year, read a poem.
It was touching and sad and really emotional. Everyone in the pack was teary-eyed. Even if we didn’t know Amy, her accident hits home for us all. It reminds us of the danger that’s a very real threat in the sport that we do. It’s scary to see how it still affects everyone, especially the Australians.
It was difficult to transition from the memorial the racing. Some of the girls got really upset – especially the Aussies. It’s hard to get on your bike and race immediately after something like that. For a lot of those girls, I think they used it as motivation to ride in Amy’s memory. They were able to channel their emotions into something a bit more positive.
STAGE FIVE: THE COURSE. THE PLAN. THE RACE.
Today’s race was 118km, and it was another one of those days that was constantly up and down. There were lots of small climbs and some steep little pitches that my legs didn’t particularly enjoy. There were also a lot of unexpected random cobbled sections, which has been the way things have gone here. You’re just riding along and then suddenly you’re riding really fast downhill on cobbles. Thankfully I was on the front all day, so I was fine through those sections.
The big loop was followed up by a nine-kilometre finish loop with a highway drag sort of climb. There were lots of exposed, windy areas and tons of wind. In fact, my teammate Mieke [Kroeger] suggested the German word of the day should be “wind!” – which I can assume needs no translation. While it might be spelled the same in English, it’s not exactly pronounced the same way. Turn that “w” into a “v” for the German version.
Our plan today was to let all non-threatening breaks up the road, but anything that was threatening had to be marked. We were each given different riders that were considered dangerous to Lisa’s overall lead to tag throughout the day. There was no reason for any of us to ride in the break today because it was better to have more legs back in the bunch to control anything that went up the road. The whole plan was centred around keeping yellow.
There was a ton of attacking in the beginning. It was really, really fast. A lot of people wanted to make the break, so it was attack-attack-attack-attack. And then finally, the right mixture of riders went up the road. The break was a good size and good composition and, most importantly, there were no general classification threats. The break started off small, but a lot of people bridged across until eventually there were 11 riders in the move. The highest placed rider on the overall was 2:30 behind Lisa, so we could let the group get a little bit of a gap, but we knew with the size of the group, we would need to be careful.
Initially, we rode tempo on the front to keep the pack moving, but as soon as the gap got out to three minutes, we began to drive the pace harder. The break went at 40km today, so our team was on the front for the next two hours.
The gap kept going up and down. It was frustrating. They weren’t giving us time checks regularly or some of the checks had to have been wrong. We’d get it under three minutes, which would be great, but then it would be 3:40 at the next time check. The goal was get the gap below three minutes before we hit that final nine-kilometre circuit because we knew people would go hard up that last climb that came only seven kilometres from the finish.
GreenEDGE gave us Gracie Elvin in the last 20 km, and with her help, we hit the circuit 1:49 behind the 11 leaders. Karol-Ann [Canuel], Elise [Delzenne] and I crushed ourselves to make that happen. As predicted, the race split to bits on that last circuit lap.
The break ended up finishing just in front of the group of four that Lisa came to the finish with. I finished nearly three minutes down, totally spent – which is totally OK, that’s what racing for yellow looks like sometimes.
Bottom line? It was a hard day, but it was totally worth it to keep Lisa in yellow. I was also happy to see Coryn win. She’s a good friend. I had a feeling she would win out of that break.
MY JOB TODAY
Behind the scenes of Stage 5 from our @velociosports team car! I’m all loaded up with bottles and info for my teammies & headed back to the pack! Teamwork was key to keeping yellow today with an 11 rider break going up the road. Our hard work paid off with another day in yellow! Huge congrats to my buddy @corynrivera for the big win! #ThuringenRundfahrt #taylertakeover ? & words by @taylerwiles ?
A photo posted by Ella Cyclingtips (@ellacyclingtips) on
Like each of my teammates, with the exception of Lisa, my role was to tag certain riders if they attempted to get up the road. When the break went, my job was to sit on the front and do an 80km time trial with my teammates.
MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE
My breakfast routine is legitimately important to me, so the whole breakfast fiasco really did throw me off to be totally honest. I love food and I was really looking forward to my eggs in the morning. Missing out on breakfast was a little crushing. The bread rolls here are delicious, so when I didn’t get any, I was sad.
Yes, I realise this sounds like I’m kidding, but I take my food seriously, and missing breakfast completely threw me off there for a little bit.
I was really proud of how well the team worked together. It was one of those days where you finish racing and everyone killed it and everyone knows it, and there’s happy smiles and big hugs all-around. Keeping yellow was great, but it was the way that we did it that really felt good.
When Tayler referenced her roommate Mieke, we jokingly asked if Mieke was following the ‘roommate rules’ as dictated by Loren Rowney. Tayler laughed but then admitted that it was she not Mieke that was the rule-breaker.
Mieke is following the roommate rules, but I’m probably the one that’s not following them all. I stay up later, and I’m always on my phone. I’m probably making too much noise. Mieke goes to sleep earlier than I do, so I often feel like the annoying roommate that is keeping her awake – and then oversleeping and missing breakfast and drinking recovery shakes in the middle of the night because I’m so hungry.
Yes, I really do that. I have been waking up in the middle of the night so hungry. It’s a problem that I have sometimes. It’s not uncommon to find me in the bathroom on any given night during a stage race drinking recovery drinks and eating rice cakes or whatever else I can find in my backpack. At least I go to the bathroom – so as not to bother my roommate – but it feels kind of weird. It’s the middle of the night, and I am eating in the bathroom.
A fan at sign-on today gave me a huge bag of cookies. I asked him his name, and he told me he was Alex. That is all I know about him. I ate a couple of the cookies at the start line. My swanny was already gone at that point, so I shoved the rest of the cookies, still in the bag, in my back pocket. A bunch of the girls in the peloton laughed at me when I rolled up to the start with a giant back of cookies in my jersey. It looked like that was going to be my race food.
The swanny for the American team was still hanging around. I hadn’t every met her before, but she’s with the Americans, so we’re friends, right? I passed off my bag of cookies to her, and I explained that my swanny had already left, but she seemed very confused by the whole thing.
I need to hunt those cookies down tomorrow. They were good – and I want them back!
GERMAN PHRASE OF THE DAY
“Ich habe hunger.” which means “I’m hungry.” I feel like this entire diary was about food, so it seems only fitting.
READER QUESTION OF THE DAY
‘Lepetitcats’ posted a question to Tayler in the comment section of her previous diary entry, and we passed it along to Tayler.
lepetitcats’ question: Do you ever have a bad day on the bike? If so – what can you do or request to make it better?
Tayler’s response: Do I ever have a bad day on the bike?! Yes. Everyone does. I have already had a bad day on the bike this tour.
You can have bad legs one day and be flying the next day, so it’s important to take things day-by-day and stay in the moment. Bad legs today do not mean bad legs tomorrow.
When you have a bad day on the bike while racing, there are several things you can do. First – let your teammates know. It’s important to be honest. At that point, you can probably do one last thing for the team. Maybe it’s take one last pull or drop back to the car to get bottles. After that, your day is done and your only job is to conserve.
If you have a question for Tayler, feel free to ask in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter. We’ll be sure to pass them along in our post-race chat.
Follow Tayler Wiles and Velocio-SRAM from Thüringen Rundfahrt:
Follow Thüringen Rundfahrt
Thüringen Rundfahrt garners less media attention than Giro Rosa or Aviva Women’s Tour, so it isn’t quite as easy for women’s cycling fans to follow this race as the last two stage races we’ve covered. Here are the resources we have so far – and we’ll add to this section on subsequent days as we know more.
- Race website
- Start list – which they note is “the (probably) final list”
- Live ticker – the live ticker is great for German-speakers or those able to have a good laugh at Google translations gone wrong.
Teams tweeting out of Germany includeBigla,Velocio-SRAM, and TIBCO-SVB. Kelvin Rundle is on the ground and shared a few videos and images throughout the race. Sean Robinson of Velofocus is on location, and we look forward to perusing his photo galleries nightly.
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