– from a Swedish point of view
Beautiful views, long and winding roads, fantastic summer weather. That’s what I always tell my teammates when I speak about cycling in Sweden or Norway. It is true, but it is far from an every day ride in Scandinavia. So I guess for me it wasn’t surprising that we ended up racing a big part of the weekend in pouring rain, 14 degrees and pushing our glasses up and down constantly cause it was impossible to see anything. The beautiful views, the long and winding roads and the fantastic summer weather, lets say Scandinavia didn’t show its best side!
Ladies Tour of Norway – a three day stage-race in the province of Östfold in Norway. A race that is characterized by their rolling nature with some heavy climbs, crosswind that can split up the peloton and the unpredictable weather conditions that change faster then you know it. It’s a beautiful race that I’m happy to have done with my team this year after missing out two years in a row. I guess it’s true as they say, third time lucky, right?
The girls arrived to my place Wednesday morning and the staff later that evening. I had invited four girls and three staff-member to stay under my roof for three days, what was I thinking? Do you know how much cyclists eat? And drinks coffee? But my team are lovely so it was just a plesant to have them here!
Friday evning we started the first stage, 71 km in pouring rain and heavy wind. Excited? Yes for racing, no for the weather. After long neutralisation the start was given and the speed was immediately high. With a early descent the peloton was on a long line and the fight for positions was on. I’m sad to say we lost Kimberly early due to a crash. She was alright due to the circumstances but couldn’t continue. The rest of us fought all the way to the finishline with Esther placed best as number…Freezing cold, wet and exhausted, 100 female riders in the middle of Fredikstad had to change clothes outside. For the crowed it may be a little embarrasing when you see the riders pull down their wet cycling pants on the side of the street but we are used to it. In that moment the only thing you think about is your recovery and that includes dry clothes as fast as possible.
Stage 2 looked on paper to be a hard but sunny story. Hills, headwind, crosswind, gravel-section and local laps with in total 96 km to get through. A hard story it was but sunny? That’s a question of definition. Sunny in the way that Esther and I was in the first group over all the climbs to the local lap working good together, but the weather? Lets say we started in 20 degrees and sun and finished in 14 degrees and rain. Still I was satisfied, I went from having a horrible day on stage 1 with awful legs to feel good in stage 2! I guess my post-race massage-conversation with Hans was a bit more happy this day than the day before.
We had got through stage 1 and 2 and was still in the race with five riders. Last day everyones legs are sore but it is the last day, nothing to save, just all in. The hardest stage of the weekend with 115 km and over 1200 meters of climbing. It was a hard day. I did struggle back and forth so as most of the riders did. Speed was going up and down, riders got dropped and came back and in the end with 15 km to go there was a peloton of approximately 50 riders left. My legs were empty, the only thing remaining was pure pain. ”Pain is temporarily, pain is temporarily, pain is temporarily”. The three words was spinning through my head and I took out the last I had in my body by bringing Esther to the front before the last climb. She finished it all of with a 21st place and I just made it over the finishline in a small group behind, happy and tired.
So, Sunday afternoon we were standing in Halden with three finisher, two first-year senior girls who made it through two hard stages and fought their very best on the last one (very proud of them!!) and one teammate that crashed out the first day but still kept a smile on her face during the weekend supporting the team. We had made a huge effort on the bike and the staff had made a huge effort on the side. The weekend was all about the #TEAM and Together Everyone Achived More!