23 September 2005

win win win

Finally got a little bit of spare time for a little bit of writing. Almost can’t remember where I got up to but will give it a shot. So much has happened since I updated last, working, racing, driving, sleeping and not much else.

I’m not on line but can seem to remember the team time trail in the Holland Ladies Tour, which, of course we kicked ass. Well it gave the girls such a boost, that night and the next day it was hard to wipe the smile off their faces. The next days racing almost did it though. We had the leaders Jersey and the first three places so there was some controlling of the race to contend with. But with three days to go we had some serious work ahead of us. 20km into the day’s race, CRASH! Our leader and three of the girls were down, as were 20 or so others. Being the first car in the caravan, I’m first on the scene, we already knew through the girls radios that Tanja, race leader was down, she was calling for the spare bike. When I arrived she was just getting up, as were two of the others, I check her bike, and set her on her way. Then to the others, two looked good, they were on their way, the rest of the team came back from the peloton to pull Tanja back to the bunch. One rider still down, a new girl, Madeline, she looked sore, some good holes in her shoulder, knee and hip, lots of blood, she looked like she was not going to get up. But by the time I sorted her bike, she was ready to go, a little bit apprehensive, but with a few words of encouragement, (lucky she didn’t hit me), she was off. Soon Tanja was back in the bunch, Madeline was back in, but my heart took another half an hour to slow down…

There was some serious tactics going down from the other teams that night, the Mafia were working late on a plan. 40km into the race their plan was hatched. We turned a corner into a very small road, the bunch was squeezed tight, five good riders from five teams attacked, the rest of their team members blocked the first part of the peleton. There was no way through, they got us good, they slowed and the riders out front managed to get a lead of five minutes with 85k to go things were not looking good. No teams wanted to work except us, the girls put their heads down, asses up and it started. Another team trial, just like yesterday, what a sight, eight girls in front for the rest of the day. The media loved it, the helicopter followed the team all day, the sponsors loved it, we loved it, the girls loved it, the five riders in front were the only ones who didn’t love it. After a 128km the race came into a small street circuit for three laps, the team caught all but two riders of the break, lost less than 16 secs, retained the lead of 1, 2 and 3 and were still smiling.

The last day, was just as good, we used all the energy the workers had left, loosing two of them early in the hills, they did a good job, now they can relax at the back. Now to the finish, the major sponsors were at the finish, it was their town, they had all their clients their, and a great party going on. To cut a long story short. Susanne won the stage with a break of four riders for 30km, sprinted the others, taking Tanja to first, herself to second, and Miriam to third, and the team to first place. What a great day, almost brought tears to my eyes (It did actually, but to keep my extremely tough image intact, I removed that part of the story). Man what a scene at the sponsors tents, they were happy, the team was happy, what a great day, you just don’t see that sort of finish with 160 girls racing, with 25 teams, and seven days.

After almost two weeks solid work getting ready for this tour, seven days racing, 8 riders, up to 18 hour days working, 21 bikes, 38 spare wheels, five crashes, seven hotels, travelling 1200km up and down the length of the country, a thousand words of encouragement, 223 curse words, two missing hotels, some fantastic scenery, two bad starts, many holes in bodies, one torn fingernail, four smashed knuckles, no rain, 8 extremely happy riders, two content mechanics, one ecstatic director it was all worth it.

The next race was tomorrow. The girls went on to Rotterdam, the boys headed to base to sort everything for the next day, another World Cup Race. We dropped off all the TT bikes, cleaned and sorted all the bikes, packed for another race, meet the girls at the hotel, but they were well asleep as we arrived at about 4am, but that’s another story…

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