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by Jessi Braverman
July 18, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos and Tayler Wiles
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
We had Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) all queued up for a #TaylerTakeover on Ella Instagram during Thüringen Rundfahrt when we learned that Mel Hoskins, who was slated for our daily rider diary during the German Tour, was looking unlikely to race. I reached out to Tayler to ask if she might be willing to fill in should Mel be sidelined, and she happily obliged. When Mel called this afternoon to alert us to her withdrawal due to a severe allergic reaction, we let Tayler know she was on double duty.
The American rides for a German-registered squad with a largely German staff and three German riders. For more than half her team on the ground, Thüringen Rundfahrt is a home tour – a home tour that they are keen to win. Tayler has agreed to daily check-ins following each stage of the seven-day, eight-stage tour. And with her teammate already in the yellow jersey of race leader, we suspect we’re in for some great stories over the course of the next week.
The first stage of the Thüringen Rundfahrt ended in a bunch sprint in Gotha. World time trial champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) bested Lotta Lepistö (Bigla) and Emily Collins (Team TIBCO-SVB) in the bid for the line. Brennauer, who won the Aviva Women’s Tour last month, has made no secret of her ambitions for the overall victory in her home tour and was delighted to start the week-long race in yellow.
The first stage was a 66-kilometre circuit made up of one big lap, one small lap and two passages through a technical, cobbled, uphill finish. I have to admit that when I was standing on the start line, I was somewhat jealous of the spectators eating brats and drinking beer. Luckily, I have three super-strong German teammates in Lisa, Trixi [Worrack] and Mieke [Kroger], so we get lots of love from the locals who are eager to cheer on their world champion (Lisa) and national champions (Trixi – road, Mieke – time trial).
The race began with a slow but somewhat painful neutral section that took us up a cobbled climb and through the gravel courtyard of a castle. When the flag dropped, we were racing into a stiff headwind, which naturally discourages attacks. When we hit the crosswinds, a few moves went, and eventually two riders broke free, but they were brought back as the pace was lifted up the first climb of the day – which was where my French teammate Elise Delzenne took the points that earned her the mountains jersey.
Just before that climb, there was a fairly big crash involving one of the race’s main contenders for the overall, Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS). Emma’s team was quick to drop back for her, and they did a great job getting her back to the front group. At that point, the pace had really picked up, and we were approaching the first passage of the start/finish.
The finish was tricky one. It was a straight shot up until about 500 metres at which point we took a left onto what seemed like a footpath. From there we zig-zagged left and right with curbs, road furniture and massive cracks to navigate, all at full-speed while trying to maintain a good line for teammates to follow.
From the footpath, we were back onto cobbled roads where it was full gas through the start/finish. The pack split slightly just beyond the line, and all the main contenders made the selection. When the bunch split, the attacks began. Despite countless attacks, nothing stuck. Teams were too keen to chase.
Twenty kilometres from the finish, a large group managed to slip away. It was a dangerous group, so my teammates and I were quick to shut it down. The group was too large to allow an advantage that might be difficult to close later.
There was one last little riser before the screaming fast four-kilometre finale. My teammate Lisa took the final three corners in second wheel and sprinted for the win in front of Lotta and Emily.
We were really excited to get Lisa the big win, and the leader’s jersey to boot. We plan to fight like crazy to keep it all week.
For all of us chicks doing the Giro/Thüringen double, today was a nice short stage to open up the legs before the longer and harder stages ahead. The heat during the Giro also helped us to acclimate, so 34 degrees this evening felt rather breezy.
To look after our general classification riders and follow attacks. This will likely be my role for most of the race.
The hardest part of my day was waiting to race! Today’s stage didn’t start until 6 p.m., and I really struggle with late stage starts. I get a bit crazy laying around all day just waiting to race. When the race starts, that’s the fun part.
I spent the day relaxing mostly – or attempting to relax is probably a more honest answer. I’m completely useless when it comes to sitting still!
We rode together as a team around 10 a.m., and I did some yoga when we got back.
I organised my bag about ten times, wrote my girlfriend and family emails, made a video message for my grandpa, and watched an episode of “The Good Wife” – which is my TV show of choice at the moment. I downloaded a whole season for the tour in advance as I knew wi-fi here wouldn’t be the best.
I’m reading “All the Light We Cannot See” at the moment, but reading puts me straight to sleep, so I save that for bedtime.
My team is German, so there are so many great German phrases constantly floating around. The most fitting one that I said today was: “Fahren wir schnell und dann gewinnen wir!” It means: “If we ride fast, we will win!” which was exactly what happened.
I took German for four years, so I secretly (or perhaps not so secretly now) understand a lot more German than my teammates realise
The number one sign that we were in Germany is just how ridiculously happy all our German staff are. They loveeeee their country and their lack of speed limit. Let’s just say I’m holding tight for dear life on most drives!
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.
Velocio-SRAM and Bigla both provided great live updates out of Giro Rosa, and although they didn’t tweet during stage one, we’re hopeful they might during subsequent days. Kelvin Rundle is on the ground with Hitec Products and shared a few videos and images throughout the race. Sean Robinson of Velofocus will be on location, and we’re looking forward to perusing his photo galleries nightly. Here’s his first set from stage one.
Everyone signed up to our mailing list before the start of La Course in Paris on July 26 will be entered to win a Boels-Dolmans Specialized prize package consisting of a Boels-Dolmans SL Pro kit and S-Works Evade (or Prevail) helmet.
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