Back in yellow and double day done: Tayler Wiles’ Thüringen Rundfahrt day three diary

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Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) is on double duty for Ella CyclingTips during Thüringen Rundfahrt this week. The American is (wo)manning our Ella Instagram account with a #TaylerTakeover and reporting in for a rider diary following each stage of the German Tour.

Tayler 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.


If you read Tayler’s stage two diary, you’ll know that she headed into the double day of the seven-day tour having to overcome a massive disappointment. In a position to solo to stage victory, Tayler was led off-course just beyond the five-kilometre mark. The mistake cost her the win and lost her team the yellow jersey that Tayler would have assumed from teammate Lisa Brennauer.

Velocio-SRAM came out swinging on Sunday. Lisa, who is the individual time trial world champion, won the morning time trial to regain the race lead ahead of the afternoon road race, and Velocio-SRAM put three in the time trial top four: Lisa (1), Karol-Ann Canuel (3) and Tayler (4).

In the afternoon road race, Velocio-SRAM allowed Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) to slip away solo. Because the Australian started the day nearly two minutes behind Lisa, her escape was not a threat to Tayler’s team’s overall ambitions. Gracie stayed away to take the stage win, and Lisa came second in the uphill sprint to Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) for third on the stage.

“Today was a good day for the team,” said Tayler. “We got yellow, we kept yellow, we put riders on the podium, and we raced well as a team. It’s all good.”

WAKING UP THIS MORNING

I was admittedly still a little sad and woke up with pretty heavy eyes, but after looking at messages that my girlfriend Olivia and my family sent me as well as support from many, many other amazing people, I picked myself up and decided that was the end of my blues. It was time to focus on the time trial – and I love time trialling, so it wasn’t too hard to get myself excited for today.

THE TIME TRIAL COURSE

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 3a

It was tricky! It had everything – technical corners, fast descents, hard little climbs and some serious cross and headwind. It was a perfect course for a rider like Lisa who loves the wind.

MY TIME TRIAL WARM-UP

I vary my warm-up depending on how I’m feeling on any given day. Today we rode the course this morning, so I used that 35 minutes as part of my warm-up. Then I got on the trainer to see how the legs were feeling.

My warm-up usually includes 5-10 minutes of riding in zone two and then I do two or three five-minute ramp-ups. I often use my music to guide those ramp-ups. My efforts today were dictated by the new Florence and the Machine album – the upbeat songs. I go harder during the chorus or fast-paced parts of the song and then back it off during the slower bits. This works well for me mentally

Personally, I don’t like using warm-ups that are super structured with two minutes in this zone and 30 seconds in that zone. For me, that’s just too stressful and restrictive. I always base my warm-up on how I feel, how much opening I think I need and the rhythm of my music.

MY TIME TRIAL EFFORT

When I time trial, I usually just try to go full gas. Today there was a climb in the first kilometre, so I made sure not to go into the red too early there. I raced without a radio because my teammates and I started the day fairly close together on the general classification, which meant our start times were to close together to all have follow cars. I raced without a follow car, so not only was I without a radio, but I also had to pay close attentions to turns and remember the course on my own.

I made a few costly mistakes – mostly breaking too early before turns. In the last corner, there was a marshal with a flag standing about 25 metres before the actual turn. I slowed way down there and lost all my speed going into that final corner. Those are definitely the lost seconds you kick yourself for post-race!

POST-TIME TRIAL SENTIMENT

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 3a

It was a great day for the team with Lisa taking the win and getting the yellow jersey back. Karol Ann [Canuel] also made the podium. Team morale was definitely very high following the time trial.

We were all feeling very motivated for the afternoon stage, knowing that we had multiple cards to play. Although yesterday’s effort took a lot out of my legs, I was (and still am!) feeling strong, and I’m more motivated than ever to make my mark on this race and help my team bring home yellow.

BETWEEN THE MORNING STAGE AND THE AFTERNOON STAGE

I had a quick shower – a very quick shower as the hotel doesn’t have any hot water – and then ate lunch. The rest of the afternoon, I laid on the ground, feet up on the wall, to rest before the next stage. I also did a little bit of yoga, which helps my head as much as my legs. A lot of girls take naps, but I’m useless at napping. I always have been, even as a kid, which I’m sure my mom loved.

THE AFTERNOON ROAD RACE

Today’s road race was run over a nasty little circuit. We did four laps of 18km, beginning on the top of ‘The Wall’ – Steile Wand von Meerane, which was an awful, awful cobbled climb. We started on the top, and thankfully a good portion of the course was downhill.

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 3b

There were a lot of cobbles. I’d say maybe half the course was cobbles or stones. It was tough, and it was technical, with a lot of turns, some open and exposed windy areas, and that wonderful 500 metre cobbled climb to the finish that we did four times.

Originally our plan was to race aggressively rather than just ride the front. We discussed going on the offensive later in the race. If riders went off early, we would let them go if we could. And that’s exactly what happened.

Gracie went away after the first of the four laps. She’s 1:43 down on the general classification, so we could let the gap out for a little bit. When it got too big, we started to bring it back. We didn’t want to catch her necessarily. We just didn’t want her to get a gap that would have any impact on the overall. In the end, Gracie won solo by around 30 seconds and Lisa sprinted in for third place.

Thuringen - Rundfahrt for women stage - 3b

It was a good race for the team. We were happy to have Gracie off the front so that more attacks weren’t going, and we weren’t having to be more defensive.

MY ROLE

I was a worker in the afternoon road race, but I was to be one of the last workers. I wasn’t meant to work until I really had to, which ended up being earlier than planned. Gracie’s gap got to be 1:49, and she was virtual yellow at that point. That’s when I had to work. There was talk of opportunities to take later in the race if nothing had happened, but it didn’t go that way.

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Getting through two stages in one day without mentally cracking was the biggest challenge of the day. In the afternoon stage, on the first lap, you could tell everyone was a little bit tired. People didn’t know the circuit yet, which made things a little sketchy, and people weren’t yet mentally focussed, which made things even more sketchy.

The pace was high enough in the peloton on the first lap that we were reduced in size by the second lap. People’s brains were a bit more focussed by lap two, too, and everyone knew the turns and other features of the course. Just getting through the first lap of the second race and being like: “ok – we’re racing now.” That was a challenge. A double day always is.

MY HIGHLIGHT

Getting yellow back in the team was the best part of today. We raced really well together in the second stage, too. We did exactly what we needed to do – not too much, not too little and everybody contributed.

LOOKING TOWARDS TOMORROW

It looks like it could be another tough day – maybe one for the breakaway again. It’s a circuit with some climbing. I imagine it will be windy like today, but who knows?

I know we want to keep yellow, but I doubt we’re going to sit on the front and pace the peloton around all day. We haven’t spoken about tomorrow yet, but that’s just not our style of racing.

FEELINGS FOLLOWING THE EMOTIONAL ROLLER-COASTER OF THE LAST 24-ODD HOURS

I’m feeling a lot better than I felt this morning and a million times better than I felt yesterday. I was so upset yesterday, and I kept playing the whole scenario over in my head. I had a hard time sleeping last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s really hard not to think about what could have been and not think about those last five kilometres over and over in my head a thousand times.

I talked to my family and got so many nice messages from all sorts of people. Even if my win isn’t down on paper, I realise I have to be proud of the race I raced before it all went wrong.

I did want to be on the time trial podium this morning. It was a bit of a bummer to come in fourth place, but I was happy to see two of my teammates on the podium – and of course, I’m excited that we’re back in yellow.


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 tweeted live race updates today, and neither teams’ tweets focus exclusively on their riders, which makes them a fantastic resource. 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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