It’s all about yellow: Tayler Wiles’ Thüringen Rundfahrt stage four diary

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Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) is on double duty for Ella CyclingTips during Thüringen Rundfahrt. We’ve kept 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.


Finnish national road champion Lotto Lopistö (Bigla) won the stage four bunch sprint in Zeulenroda ahead of Swedish national road champion Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur). Race leader Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) sprinted in for fifth place.

Although Brennauer finished outside the bonus seconds available to the top three of each stage, she started Monday’s stage with seconds to spare and remains in the yellow jersey by 20 seconds over Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB). Lepistö rounds out the top-three overall at 29 seconds with three stages still to race.

TURNING TWENTY-SIX

This is the third time I’ve raced my bike on my birthday, and I actually haven’t been home on my birthday since I was 16 or 17. It’s been awhile. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to be away from family and spend a birthday suffering, but the team is great about making it special.

Teammates turn into family on the road, so you’re surrounded by people that love you and care about you. That definitely makes it a bit easier not to be with my actual family on birthdays and other special days.

Beyond my teammates fussing over me, the US National Team is here, and they all went out of their way to say happy birthday to me. The race organisers gave me flowers at sign-in, and apologised for what happened the other day, which was nice.


My swanny gave me cookies but didn’t know who had given them to me. All I got was: “I think it was an Australian.” Now I know – Kelvin! Thank you for the cookies, Kelvin. They were amazing. Nothing could have tasted better after a long, hard stage.

THE COURSE DETAILS

Today was a 116km day with a start/finish in Zeulenroda. We raced four laps – three laps over a 25km loop followed by a 40km loop. The little loops were tough. It was constantly up and down with one main climb that’s known as the Hanka-berg named after Hanka Kupfernagel, who is from this area.

The Hanka-berg is a beast of a climb. There’s a fast downhill run-in to a cobbled uphill. Thankfully, only the start of the climb is cobbled. It then stair-steps up for about a kilometre – and the mountain points were available over the top.

There’s more climbing after the Hanka-berg with a long, ragged sort of climb before a fast, slightly downhill to the line.

The larger loop started similar to the first loop but included 25 kilometres of new roads. Like the smaller loop, it was up and down the whole time.

THE STAGE FOUR TEAM PLAN + RACE ACTION

We wanted to keep the yellow jersey. That’s always the objective. We planned to let all non-threatening breaks go up the road.

A few riders went solo, which was fine for us, but it seemed like everyone wanted to be up the road today, which meant no one was up the road in the end. There were a lot of people attacking without really getting anywhere.

The last time up the Hanka-berg, Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), who started the stage in fourth overall, really pushed the pace. It split the peloton. We had Lisa and Elise [Delzenne] in the front split. Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) had missed the split, so TIBCO chased it back. Everything was back together for that final loop.

At some point in the last loop, a Parkhotel Valkenburg rider got away. She wasn’t a threat for us, so we were happy to let her go up the road. Bigla wanted the stage win, so they drove it on the front for pretty much the whole final loop until we caught the lone leader. Then, they did a lead-out for Lotta, which was obviously a good one because she won.

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 4

Lisa sprinted in for fifth place today. I was on bunch time, too, but much further down. We missed out on the stage podium today, which is the first time we haven’t finished in the top-three on a stage this race, but we kept the yellow jersey. The overall was the main goal for the team, so we were happy with our finish today.

MY JOB TODAY

I had a similar role today as past days. If there was work to be done, I needed to work. I was responsible for making sure that the breaks that went weren’t a threat to us. If I saw a good moment to initiate or bridge across to a break, I was given the freedom to do that. I could tell early on that the stage wasn’t going to go that way because teams were only letting single riders and small teams have any sort of gap.

The third time up the Hanka-berg, Orica was really aggressive, which was good. The pack had gotten smaller, and it was a hard moment. I thought a break might go with one of Emma’s teammates and one of us, but TIBCO was eager to keep it together, too. There some splits and some separate, but it regrouped in the end. It was clear how the race was going to play out.

THE YELLOW JERSEY + THE MOUNTAIN JERSEY

Yellow is definitely the number one priority, but we also have Elise in the mountain jersey, and she would like to keep that if she can. She knows she can’t kill herself on the climbs and that if she attacks for points, she has to be careful about who follows her.

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 4

Points were available up the Hanka-berg today, and no one attacked the first two times. It was just a hard, steady pace. As long as Elise was on the front, she could just jump with 100 metres. That doesn’t take much out of her, and it doesn’t impact the team, so it’s the perfect scenario.

Yesterday, Elise had to do a lot of work for the team, so she couldn’t race for the mountain points. Luckily, she had enough in the bank to keep the jersey even without the additional points.

Bottom line? Yellow is number but if Elise is in a position to collect points without it impacting the team’s first goal, she’s allowed to go for it.

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY

My brain is a little fried. I did the Giro Rosa, so it’s all starting to add up. Mentally staying on top of everything – that’s hard. People underestimate how hard it is to stay mentally sharp during a race. And as you become more physically tired, it becomes even more difficult.

It was really technical racing into the Hanka-berg, and the first time I wasn’t in a good position. The next two times, I had to really force myself to focus on being better positioned to not waste energy chasing unnecessarily. Staying mentally tough and mentally in the race – that was my biggest struggle today.

MY HIGHLIGHT

The birthday cookies from Kelvin. I love when people give me cookies. Cookies are pretty much my favourite thing.

I KNOW I’M AT A BIKE RACE WHEN…

So in America, there are always port-a-potties at bike races, right? But in Europe, it’s not a thing to have port-a-potties at bike races, so there’s this pre-race pee ritual that just cracks me up.

You get to a race, and you have girls all over the place just searching for a place to pee. Everyone gets to a race, hops out of the team camper or car, and immediately seeks out a bush or a driveway or some hidden patch of grace.

You’re peeing in one spot, and you’ll see another girl just pull her pants down in the grass in another spot – and it’s totally normal to us. But then you see regular civilians observing this whole pre-race ritual, and they’re totally shocked and maybe a little offended, and you realise – oh yeah, that’s not really normal for people to pee in public places like this.

We’re weird. Bikes races make us weird. We just drop trou and pee wherever in public places, and we act like it’s totally normally.

READER QUESTION OF THE DAY

Derek Maher posed a question to Tayler in the comment section of her previous diary entry, and we passed it along to Tayler.

Derek’s question: What gear ratio did you use up the Steile Wand van Meerane?

Tayler’s response: 11/26

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.

Bigla and Velocio-SRAM have tweeted live updates throughout the race (although neither every single day). 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’re looking forward to perusing his photo galleries nightly.


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