Well for those of you that don’t know, I competed in the Junior World Road Race Championships this year in Holland. And what an experience that was.
First I was put onto the GB long list so I attended a selection camp in Newport, Wales. This lasted 5 days and was to see how our current form was. I quite enjoyed that, the training was hard and it gave me a chance to get to know all the juniors 🙂 On the last day Matt Winston had to announce the team. This was it, the moment had come and I was so nervous. Matt gave a brief overview about the race and what to expect and this made me want it even more. He called a few people out of the room to talk to them, then came back in the room to reveal that everyone else still in the room was going. It felt like the X Factor haha. I was so happy. I felt like screaming but everyone just sat and played it cool so I did the same. I kept my excitement to myself.
Back from camp I started to pack and think about the race. It made me realise how lucky I was that I was representing Great Britain and hopefully going to make it proud. I was proud of myself the most, I’ve come so far, only starting racing 2 years ago doing a few local races around Sheffield, to now, racing at international level.
The day had come to travel to Holland. I flew from Birmingham with Emily Kay and Molly Weaver and met Lucy Garner there. Elinor Barker was already there as she had competed in the Individual Time Trial… Now where did she finish? Hmmm can’t quite remember… SHE ONLY WON IT! What a legend. ELINOR BARKER JUNIOR WORLD TT CHAMPION. Elinors gold medal performance inspired us all making us believe even more that we could back up Lucy helping her win her 2nd consecutive title.
The hotel was really nice, and the whole GB team was staying there as well as team USA. So that was pretty cool. The next day we did a recky of the course which made us all feel better as it wasn’t as severe as we first thought. I loved the course, the climbs were great. That night we had to go to the junior conference. Every single junior had to go, so it was a chance to see who we were up against. Then we had a talk from Marianne Vos and Mark Cavendish about their past experiences and some advise. Finally there was a quiz at the end which Lucy & Emily came 2nd winning a pair of Mavic deep section wheels and Jon and Tao came 1st winning a ‘Time’ bike frame. So a pretty good start for GB… Enough to psych the other country’s out anyway haha.
That night was also mine and Lucy Garners 18th birthday so it made it pretty special to experience it at the Worlds. Don’t think were going to forget our 18th in a hurry. When we were eating dinner the staff brought out a cake for each of us and everyone sang happy birthday. So that made it special and was very thoughtful.
THE BIG DAY WAS FINALLY HERE. That morning, time dragged as we had to chill out in our rooms and not waste any unnecessary energy. Eventually it was time to drive to the race. And what lucky girls we were, spending our time before the race chilling on the TEAM SKY BUS! It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E!
Then time flew by and before I knew it I was on the front row of the start grid, with my GB girls, counting down from 10 ready to set off. The course was mainly either up or down and kept at a high pace. With Lucy in the team our team tactics were to try and make it a sprint finish, so mine and Molly’s job was to go with attacks or bring them back if needed. But the race played into our hands and there weren’t really any attacks. However the first lap was a complete disaster for us, starting with Elinor coming down in one of the crashes. “Oh god our team captain is down” was what went through my mind. Then seconds later at the bottom of the 1st climb Lucy’s chain came off so I gave her the biggest push I could give (sending me backwards haha) then another one until she had it back on. Now to sprint up the climb and get back in the bunch… As if the climb wasn’t hard enough on its own!! Things only got better from there and the race was soon nearly at an end. Time went so fast I couldn’t believe it. The team plan was for us all to lead Lucy out at the finish but I knew I wouldn’t be at the front at the top of the last climb then have the legs to lead her out so I told her this and she understood. Lucy is unbelievable at positioning herself so I knew this wouldn’t be a problem for her. So the last climb was nearly here, just a long steep down hill to go before the crucial sharp left hander. The down hill was crazy, girls were risking their lives to get to the front, knocking anyone that was in their way. This came as a bit of a shock, maybe I’m missing that international experience or I just need to man up, one of the two. Anyway, the corner came and I was in the top quarter of the bunch and felt good for the first half of the climb as I was passing people left, right and centre. But then came the second half and I just couldn’t keep up with the top 20 so I finished in the second group a reasonable 31st. In hindsight I maybe could of finished higher but hearing on the tannoy that lucy had won turned my legs to jelly and I was overwhelmed with emotions. Adrenaline was pumping for the last 2km as I could hear the odd word on the tannoy “Elinor… Great Britain… Lucy”….. then LUCY GARNER WINS!! I was so happy, I felt like crying. Elinor did an amazing lead out for her then Lucy finished it off with her trademark sprint, showing everyone how its done.
Everything was crazy after that. Media everywhere and we even got Dave Brailsford running up to us and giving us all hug, his face lit up with a massive smile. That night all the pros had arrived so we got the likes of Wiggins, Cavendish, Froome, Swifty, Poole, and loads more sat across from us which was insane.
Then just when I thought I’d seen it all, the following morning at breakfast I casually bump into Wiggo when I’m getting some fruit. Here’s my chance to talk to the man himself. So I took it and chatted away. What a week it had been, I literally couldn’t have wished for any more! A dream come true and an experience to remember forever. <3