The yellow jersey’s noble helpers: Tayler Wiles’ Thüringen Rundfahrt stage six diary

by Jessi Braverman


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.


Katie Hall delivered back-to-back stage wins for Team USA at Thüringen Rundfahrt. The 28-year-old bested Australia’s Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) to the finish line in Schleiz on the sixth stage of the German tour to claim her first European victory. Forty seconds later, Amy Pieters (Netherlands) led home what was left of the main bunch.

Race leader Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) crossed the line as part of the 24-rider peloton alongside all but one of the riders who had been sitting in the top ten overall at the start of the penultimate day of racing. Brennauer will line-up for Friday’s final stage with a 20 second advantage over Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) in second. Lotto Lepistö is in third overall at 29 seconds.

MORNING MEALS

Waking up in time for breakfast today was rough, but I’m happy to report that I made it on time and ate my eggs. I could have slept a lot longer, but I had to weigh my options – sleep or eggs? Eggs won out. I couldn’t stomach pasta for breakfast again.

I’m also happy to report that the USA swanny returned my cookies to me today. I ate about half the bag before today’s race. I shared some with my teammates, too – so our ride today was fueled by cookies.

THE COURSE

Today’s stage was the longest of the week at 130 kilometres. Like several of the other stages, it was up and down all day. We would ride a couple kilometres downhill and then it would hit a steep pitch up. It was like that all day. It’s the kind of terrain that really crushes legs because there is nowhere to hide.

We had one longer climb, but it wasn’t super steep. It was long enough to hurt but not long enough to do serious damage. We suspected the race would get really hard beginning from that climb, which came at about 83 kilometres.

The last kilometre was a screaming downhill into the finish. It flattened out into the last corner coming to the line.

THE TEAM PLAN

We’re all in for yellow. We hoped to see a break without any of the general classification riders get away early. Like yesterday, we had a list of riders that we didn’t want to let get up the road. Anyone else was fair game.

The idea was:

  1. Let a non-threatening break get away
  2. Keep an eye on any of the riders that were a threat to Lisa’s lead
  3. Stick together in the peloton

We weren’t going to jump into any breaks today. If a dangerous person went away, instead of following them, we’d pull them back as a team so that we were all working as a single unit.

Sometimes at the end of the stage race, that’s the best strategy because if you’re jumping on everything, you might end up in a move with a person that you really don’t want to be with in a break.

THE RACE ACTION

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 6

A break went early. Thankfully. And it wasn’t a threat. We were happy with the move. I think the best placed rider was 2:20 down on the overall, but we knew with the terrain we had today, a break wouldn’t get too much time, so we didn’t really have to ride the front too hard.

Before the climb, we used our 22-year-old German motor, Mieke [Kroger], to keep the pace on the front going into the climb – nothing too hard but enough to keep the pack rolling. She did a great job with that.

Up the climb there were attacks coming from a bunch of different teams. We did exactly what were meant to do: working as a single unit to bring them back.

The race got really hard over the top of that long climb I mentioned earlier. Orica-AIS was attacking like crazy, and we were covering all their moves. Emma [Johansson] (Orica-AIS) put in a few diggers, and we paced her back as a team.

We were closing in on the break at the bottom of one of the rollers following the big climb when Emma punched it really hard to bridge across the breakaway, which was 15 seconds down at that point.

Emma had started the day in fourth overall, 31 seconds behind Lisa, so the situation required a swift reaction. Karol-Ann [Canuel] and I were the only ones left with Lisa at that point, so the two of us went to the front and drove it until we got Lisa back to Emma.

As soon as we got Lisa back in contact with Emma, Amanda Spratt, Emma’s teammate, attacked. Spratt had been doing a lot of attacking earlier, so we had spoken about her specifically. She’s 1:22 down, so she’s slightly dangerous but not as dangerous as someone like Emma. We decided that instead of following all of Spratt’s jumps, if she attacked again, we would just control things. So when she attacked, we let her get a bit of a gap. Katie Hall (Team USA) went with her.

There were maybe 25 kilometres left at this point. Karol-Ann and I came to the front to control the advantage. Our objective was to keep it under one minute, so I rode really, really hard until the last 10 kilometres. At the 10 kilometre mark, TIBCO and Bigla each sent one rider to the front, and they rotated through with me and Karol-Ann for a while.

With about three kilometres still to race, there was a kicker of a climb. I had done my job, and I couldn’t even hold onto the pack anymore, so when I lost them, I just sat up. Karol-Ann was still with Lisa, and I could see that they were OK. Emma wasn’t going to attack with a teammate up the road, so it was a good situation for us.

Katie ended up winning. Lisa finished in the main bunch of 24 riders at 40 seconds. We still have yellow. Mission accomplished. And I died a thousand deaths in the process.

ON KEEPING YELLOW

We’re happy that our plan worked today. It wasn’t necessarily hard to control, but the terrain was tough. Even if you weren’t working, it was a hard day out there. Lisa is so great to race for because she is the most appreciative rider I know. It makes it easy for us to all bleed our eyes out for her.

ONE MORE DAY

Just one more day. Ninety-eight kilometres more. That’s it. We can do this.

When it’s just one last day, you can completely kill yourself. We’ve already talked about it. We are all in to ride until we fall off our bikes tomorrow to keep that yellow jersey. It’s a shorter stage tomorrow, and it starts earlier in the day. Hopefully it will be action-packed and speed by really fast.

It’s a shorter stage than the last few, so hopefully it will be action-packed and go by quickly. It looks really hilly (again!). With only 30 seconds separating first from fourth, we know to expect fireworks, but we also know we’re strong enough to deal with it.

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE

It’s a toss-up. It was really hard to keep myself from eating the entire bag of chocolate chip cookies before I started the race. It was also really hard not to get to talk to my girlfriend Olivia today. She’s racing at Cascade back home in the States, and because of time zones, her race started almost exactly as my race ended. We won’t talk today at all. It’s just one day, but when you’ve raced 16 of the last 20 days, everything feels a bit more dramatic and unmanageable.

MY HIGHLIGHT


My swanny made my favourite panini for race food today. It’s banana and honey on sweet bread and it’s delicious. Every other panini he makes has Philadelphia cream cheese, and cream chees is one of the only foods that I just absolutely hate. Anytime I get one without the cream cheese, I get very excited.

GERMAN PHRASE OF THE DAY

“Du bist meine edelhelfer.”

The direction translation is a bit silly. It means: “You are my noble helper.” It’s what the race announcers have been calling us as Lisa’s teammates. We’re her “edelhelfer” at Thüringen.


Thüringen Rundfahrt comes to a close on (European) Friday, which means you have one last chance to have us pass along your questions to Tayler. Today’s reader question came from Verita Stewart – who asked if Tayler had gotten her cookies back from the Team USA swanny. If you have a question for Tayler, feel free to ask in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter. We’ll pick at least one to throw at Tayler during our stage seven 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.

Teams tweeting out of Germany include Bigla,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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