Festival Elsy Jacobs 2013: You Are What You Think

The Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg was like a roller coaster, with more downs than ups, but, as my tweet before Stage One said:

“Everyday is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be!”

923289_589364721081818_369030186_n-2The rainy prologue was supposed to be a 1.8km opportunity for me to stake a place in the general classification. However, not even 500m into the individual time trial, my wet brakes didn’t grab and I crashed on the first corner. The most important part of the time trial wasn’t the fall, but how I got up afterwards. Luckily, I was unscathed so I made a good recovery, finishing only 35 seconds behind the leader. You win some, you lose some.

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I was hoping to start Stage One a little higher in the standings, but I knew I needed to move on from the previous day’s crash and focus on what could be. The whole day I tried to force a break away in order to claim back the precious seconds I spent on the ground the day before. A break never formed, but the bunch whittled down to a group of about 20 by the time we were approaching the finish. I’m primarily known as a climber in Europe, not a sprinter, but I was extra determined after my bad luck during the prologue to make the day count. As we entered the last kilometers, I fought may way onto Marianne Vos’ wheel and I was well positioned to contest the sprint.

A few sideways glances from the normal sprinters made it obvious I was breaking out of my normal role, but as we charged towards the line I out sprinted Katarzyna Pawlowska, Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson to take second in the stage, just behind Georgia Bronzini. I think I really took everyone by surprise, but no one was more surprised than me. Well, maybe my teammate Carlee who joked, “you really mean what you say on Twitter!”

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On the last day of the tour I was riding on the high of claiming second in my first bunch sprint but, like a roller coaster, down I went again…literally. I usually avoid bunch sprints because they are dangerous, but with more confidence I fought for a good position. I settled on Marianne’s wheel again and was feeling good to contest another sprint, but I was a little eager and we still had 3 kilometers to ride. Somewhere along the descent to the finish, I lost my position and ended up behind a rider who was taking a few too many risks for my liking. Just as I saw a gap to escape, a piece of road furniture came out of nowhere and took down the girl in front of me. I was next. With only 1km to the finish line, for the second time during the tour I was on the ground. Miraculously, again I was uninjured from the high speed crash and able to finish the stage.

Festival Elsy Jacobs may have been a roller coaster, but had I not gone down (twice) I would never have reached a new high. After my first crash I was really determined to make my mark on the race. I did my best not to focus on what could have been. I treated each stage as a new beginning and, had I not been able to forget my original plan and how it was derailed, I would have never had the mindset to go out of my comfort zone and contest a bunch sprint…once, yet alone twice!

Luxembourg was a great reminder that: You are what you think! Think positively! 🙂 

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