The Grand Prix IGA Ste-Martine was my first race of the season and also my first race as part of Stevens – The Cyclery team. Result: Emily Flynn sprinted to second place. But how about I let you know what the race was like before the sprint.
Jenny and Chris (the team directors) gave us a little briefing and we knew where we had to be and when. Coming from an independent racing background, the team concept is extremely different. We are all given jobs while out in the race and we also have a team captain who calls the shots. It’s really neat and similar to many other team sports, but at the end of the day there are only three podium spots (which is where we want to get a rider or two from our team)!
A slight warm-up gets the blood going and also loosened me up. I had the chance to ask questions about my job in the peloton and other terms (“diesel engine” for example) that I wasn’t familiar with. The course: six laps of 10 km each.
There were about 30-40 women in the field today, and apparently that’s a pretty decent size. Back in New Brunswick, if there were more than 3 women, I was excited!! The start, as always, is a little nervous with riders getting positioned. Positioning was crucial as there were some crosswinds to contend with.
The pack rode the first two laps staying together with an attack here and there. Finally Kirsti Lay of Specialized-Mazda went off the front and I chased her down. Two other riders joined us and our break held with about 25 seconds on the pack for a lap. Back in the pack, more attacks would go off the front, each time a Stevens rider chasing them down. Nothing stuck for very long out in the wind.
The pace had slowed considerably and so on the final turn, I took to the front knowing that Emily was hot on my wheel (with some other Mazda riders as well) and pulled the pace up which helped string the group out. A bunch sprint is always a little dangerous, so the fewer riders you have to get around or worry about, the better. Kirsti pulled away and Em followed to the line. A great finish for Emily and for the team.
We did a fantastic job (even though I am still learning!) chasing attacks and making attacks as well. Our team captain, Amélie, was excellent and we communicated really well throughout the whole race. It’s exciting to be back in the racing season, and even more exciting that I am riding with the Stevens – The Cyclery team!
There are going to be some pretty epic podiums this season, so stay tuned!
Until next time…. eat, sleep and pedal 🙂
— Ellen Watters