The tour of Southern Highlands was back this year, with a different location. I was bummed to find out the TT was only 3 miles long, however, I decided to show up and to get through the race mishap-free and see what I could do on GC. The racing would be pretty good: UHC sent a 5 girl squad and Kate Buss from Tibco showed up, with the rest of us being amateurs.

We started on Friday night with a crit in downtown Woodstock. It was cold, it was dark, and the course was narrow and technical, partially weaving through a construction zone. The race went as expected with two UHC and the Tibco rider being off the front and not much else happening. I saved my legs and finished safely in the pack.

Next morning, I managed to start my 3 mile TT on time. I felt awful, never finding any rhythm and just tried to stay focused and consistent. Turns out I came in 7th overall, or best of the rest. Looks good on paper, but 51 seconds to the winner is quite a bit over 3 miles. Happy that I was on time for my TT, I went back to the hotel to rest up before the circuit race in the afternoon.
Back on time for the circuit race (or so I thought) I wanted to sign in but – surprise! I was told it had started about 20 minutes ago; at 3 pm and not at 4:15 pm like my tech guide said! Groundhog day – just this time I missed the race start on the circuit race, not the TT. Guess I made it one stage further this year… Luckily, the UHC squad also showed up for a 4:15 start and I hung out with them while their race director argued with the race organizer. Turns out: The first version of the tech guide said 4:15 pm start time but since then they had changed it to 3 pm without making any announcements. So those of us who were well prepared got screwed over! How they could start the race without the dominant team that had the race and sprint leader and five out of the top six is a mystery to me.
After a few more minutes, the race organizer came running to us and said we should start racing. We’d get a hefty GC penalty but as long as we raced now, we would be allowed to race the last stage tomorrow as well. I guess I was lucky that UHC had the same problem as me, because if it would have been just me, my race would probably have been over.

So I got to sit on a TTT of UHC for about 25 miles, and these girls were crushing it. I pulled through once or twice, but the majority of times I just sat on. We were considerably faster than the race though, starting several minutes down and passing them half-way through. After an hour of speed work, or 5 instead of 6 laps, we called it quits (Thanks girls, was an honor to get to ride with you!). As I rolled off to my car, one of the girls jokingly asked if I wanted a UHC jersey for tomorrow, but I was too shy to say anything – and it would have been a disgrace for UHC, because…

…let’s just pretend the road race course didn’t suit my diesel engine. It featured two somewhat short but steep climbs, the second being a triple step over a kilometer that also served as QOM. UHC, and later Kate Buss from Tibco, attacked on the climbs each time shedding a few riders. I managed to stay within reach over the first climb and the first step of the QOM with lactate burning up to my forearms, but the false flat was too much for me. The first two laps I caught back onto the group but the third lap, about 45 out of the 75 miles, the gap was too big and I rode the last two laps (30 miles) almost completely alone to an 11th place finish. A whopping 23 minutes after the winner but only 5 minutes or so after the remnants of the first “main group” – which was shattered by that time too. No surprise, UHC got 5 into the top 6. In hindsight I should have attacked myself to get up the road with one of the strong girls to avoid all the hard attacks but I was not confident enough.

Overall, GC had me down in 13th place, and if it wasn’t for a 12 minute penalty for the missed circuit race I would have been 10th. Thanks to their 5 vs 1 team tactics, UHC took more than 12 minutes back on race leader Kate Buss and went 1-2 in GC.

TT results

 

Sitting on the blue train. Photo credit: Stephen Guilbert

 

Lauren Hall about the QOM… 😉