Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) has been on double duty for Ella CyclingTips throughout Thüringen Rundfahrt. We’ve kept her busy over on Ella Instagram with a #TaylerTakeover, and every evening, she called 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 were to determined to win. And while they won three stages and spent five days in the yellow jersey, Wiles’ final check-in following the last stage of Thüringen Rundfahrt was a less than happy one. Despite the best efforts of Velocio-SRAM to close out the week in yellow, they lost the overall lead on the final stage.
We recognise that Tayler’s Thüringen Rundfahrt has been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, and we cannot thank her enough for allowing us to share her stories out of Germany with all of you.
Karol-Ann Canuel (Velocio-SRAM) won the final stage of Thüringen Rundfahrt, but the Canadian looked closer to tears than cheers beyond the finish line in Greiz. Although Canuel delivered Velocio-SRAM’s third stage win over eight stages at the German tour, the main objective on Thursday was to defend the race leader’s jersey that time trial world champion Lisa Brennauer had worn during six of the seven days of Thüringen Rundfahrt. Canuel had won the stage, but Brennauer had lost the tour.
Fourth overall at the start of stage seven, Swedish national champion Emma Johansson and her Orica-AIS teammates attacked the race to pieces, eventually forcing clear a breakaway that included Canuel, Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) and Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS). Stephens, who started the stage in second overall, was a dangerous rider to allow up the road for both Johansson and Brennauer.
At the mid-point of the 98 kilometre stage, Johansson attacked out of the reduced bunch and bridged across to the 11-rider breakaway, taking Brennauer and Amy Pieters (Netherlands) across to the leaders. The effort ultimately cost Brennauer. The attacks continued within the breakaway, and Brennauer lacked the legs to follow.
With the yellow jersey distanced, Johansson threw a final punch, and slipped up the road with Canuel, who started the day in sixth overall. The duo reached the finish line 22 seconds ahead of Spratt and Stephens. Brennauer crossed the line at 1:26, dropping from first to fifth on the general classification.
Johansson’s aggressive racing netted her a third overall victory at Thüringen Rundfahrt. Canuel jumped up to second overall, and Stephens rounded out the general classification podium.
MY FIRST THOUGHT THIS MORNING
“Oh man, it’s early.”
We started earlier than other days, so we had to be up by 7:30 a.m. for breakfast, which is really early for me – especially during a tour. That was my first thought.
My second thought was: “Thank God, it’s the last day.”
THE TEAM PLAN
The mood was good within the team. We were happy it was the last day, and we were confident we could defend yellow. Morale was high.
We knew there would be fireworks today. We knew Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) would attack at every opportunity and that her teammate Amanda Spratt would probably also attack. When that happened, we wanted Karol-Ann to cover that move.
Karol-Ann could potentially ride into yellow if she and Spratt got away because she started the day above Spratt on the general classification. Having the two of them up the road would be a better situation for us than Orica.
That scenario did end up happening; however, the break that went had Lauren Stephens (TIBCO) in it and a bunch of other people. It was too big, and it wasn’t good for us.
Lisa was meant to stick to Emma today as best she could. And I was looking after Lisa today – which meant doing whatever I could to keep her stuck to Emma.
THE STAGE SEVEN COURSE
It was another hard, undulating course. We did the Hanka-berg again at 45 kilometres. Just once but once was enough today. From the big loop, we came back into town and crossed the start/finish to start a 20 kilometre loop that had two significant climbs. There were a few cobbled sections but nothing too terrible.
HOW IT WENT DOWN
There were a lot of attacks from the start. Emma was going hard up every climb to make our legs tired and force us to follow her. It wasn’t fun but it was fine.
One of Emma’s attacks was especially long and hard, and we covered it. Spratt countered. Karol-Ann went with her, which was exactly what we had planned. The break grew quickly. There were maybe 11 riders in it. It was pretty big – too big.
As soon as it got established, I looked around and realised that Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) was in the break, which was not good because she was ahead of Karol-Ann in the general classification. This was a bad situation for us, and it was a bad situation for Bigla, too. Their overall contender, Lotto Lepistö, had missed out.
Elise, I and three of the Bigla girls went to the front and chased. The break had gotten a big gap quickly. It had taken us a minute or two assess who was in the break and what other teams were in trouble, so we weren’t doing all the work on our own. By that point, I think they had 2:30.
We rode hard, but we still hadn’t done the Hanka-berg. I knew Emma would make her move there, and after pulling on the front, going with her on the Hanka-berg was going to be difficult.
Just like we all knew she would, Emma attacked up that terrible Hanka-berg hill. Lisa and Amy Pieters (Netherlands) were able to follow.
I wasn’t too far back, but I was torn about how to handle the situation. We also had Lotta with us, and I didn’t want to bring her across.
I chased for a little bit, trying to get up to Lisa, but then I thought: Lotta is in trouble, the BTC girl is in trouble. I was with people that were going to lose their general classification spots, and I decided to let them pull.
Eventually Lisa, Emma and Amy caught the front group. While those three had been chasing, we had been chasing, too. And we got within 20 seconds of them, which was when people decided to stop working. We never got that close again.
From there I don’t know the exact details because I wasn’t up front. I do know that Emma attacked a bunch, and eventually got off the front with Karol-Ann. Lauren Stephens and Spratt also ended up in a two-rider move somehow.
In the end, it was great that Karol-Ann won the stage. We were happy for her, but we were all completely devastated that we lost yellow. Karol-Ann didn’t get the usual love and fuss for her stage win because we were all so upset about the jersey. Karol-Ann was upset, too.
WHAT WE COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY
We didn’t have a post-race chat today because Karol-Ann had doping control, which took close to two hours, and everyone was in a rush to get out of there. Maybe we could have played things differently tactically, but I feel like all of us did everything we could today. The team worked so hard this week. We gave everything for yellow.
Emma and her teammates were super from the start. They were down on numbers, but they managed to use the riders that they did have really, really well. Emma’s smart, and she’s strong. We are, too, but today, we lost to someone stronger.
THE AFTERMATH OF LOSING YELLOW
Lisa just didn’t have the legs today. She did her very best, and she was so obviously upset after the race. We all were, but I can’t think of much we could have done differently. For me, it was a similar feeling to when I lost out on the stage win earlier in the race.
After my lost stage win, I was fully committed to yellow. We weren’t given many individual opportunities after that. I was just put into a worker role, so I threw everything into that. For us to do everything right and work so hard…
I don’t know if I’ve ever worked this hard. I mean, I probably have, but…when you win, it hurts less.
Never take yellow for granted. You don’t win it, until you win it. Which I knew. We all did, and we all knew today was going to be hard.
I also know that some days, you just don’t have the legs to win. More than anything, Lisa wanted to be able to follow Emma, but she just didn’t have the legs. Sometimes your body won’t let you do anything, no matter how much you want to or how hard you work or how much you deserve it. Sometimes your legs just say no.
MY HIGHLIGHT TODAY
The highlight was going to be that it was the last day. I survived the race, and I survived racing 17 of the last 21 days, and we got yellow. Obviously that didn’t happen. And now all I want is one more day. I want a do-over. Today wasn’t really a highlights-sort of day in the end. It wasn’t a good one.
GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY
WHAT’S UP NEXT
I’m currently in Leipzig, Germany where our service course is. I’ll stay two nights at this hotel, and then I fly to Paris on Saturday for La Course. I could have gone to Paris today, but the riding is impossible there, so I decided to stay here, so I could ride tomorrow and Saturday and then go to Paris.
Well @ellacyclingtips it's been fun but it's time to go back to my own insta-world! Thank you everyone who followed along, our team gave it absolutely everything we had this week at #thuringenrundfahrt & that is something we have to be proud of! Big thanks to Ella for letting us share our journey through #Deutschland ?? Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen! #taylertakeover ? & words by @Taylerwiles ?
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