Stage 3 of the 2015 Giro Rosa was one of those perfect women’s cycling days, where the “sprint” stage was taken over by the breakaway. I caught up with Jessie Walker, who’s racing the Giro for the first time, and came 20th, achieving her Giro goal and being best British rider on the stage, for a short Q&A
It’s your first ever Giro – how’s it going?
Well, the prologue was fun, I knew I wouldn’t be up there with this level of riders but I gave it my best. The atmosphere was amazing. I remember warming up on the turbo thinking “I can’t believe I’m here”. Then the first stage was a shock to the system. The heat, the climbs and the speed. Stage 2 I found easier as I knew what to expect. Then Stage 3 I felt even better. So hopefully this will continue.
How did you prepare for the race?
I didn’t! I was racing in the UK doing the Tour Series criterium races 3 weeks ago for RST racing team. The complete opposite to what I should have done to prepare for this. Then last minute I was told there was an opportunity to join Servetto Footon and race the Giro Rosa. So of course I jumped at the chance but knew it was going to be a challenge.
What have been the biggest surprises so far, on or off the bike?
The heat. I’ve raced plenty of times in Europe before and coped just fine but it’s really been hard to handle in the last three days.
And what’s the best part?
The best part has been mixing it up at the front and looking round at all the worlds best riders. It’s a pretty insane feeling.
What are the biggest differences between the Giro and the other races you’ve ridden?
Well the only other UCI 2.1 I’ve done is the Friends Life Women’s Tour last year which doesn’t compare to the mountains we climb or the heat.
How does it feel to be top British finisher and in the top 20 today?
I’m really pleased. I wanted a top 20 so anything else I get will be a bonus. It’s a bit of a confidence boost as well. Each day I learn so much and feel better so it’s all positive!
What advice would you give anyone who rides the Giro for the first time in the future?
Try to keep your body as cool as possible at all times and keep hydrated. As soon as you start to overheat it makes the racing 10 times harder.
Is there anyone you want to thank, or give a shout out to?
I’d like to thank my team Servetto Footon for giving me the opportunity to race the Giro. Only a few weeks ago I thought I’d just be doing the UK racing scene and now I’m here! I’d also like to thank the Dave Rayner Fund for supporting me this year, it’s a massive help.
Follow Jessie on her twitter, and with the Servetto-Footon twitter.