The turning point of my 2013 Giro Rosa was on stage 5! 4km from the finish line I found myself in damage control mode, trying to keep a grip on my 5th place in the general classification. But as riders I had dropped early on came past me, I saw my 5th place slipping away, and I realised the closer I get to the podium, the harder the Giro becomes.
I wasn’t over confident, but for the first time in the Giro, my race was going to plan. Half way through the race, I was happy with my ranking in the general classification and I thought I had it all under control. Even though I had specifically trained for more of the shorter, steep climbs we had been racing in the first four stages, I felt ready for the final 15km climb up Monte Beigua to the finish line of stage 5. I made sure to ride conservatively and keep a good position throughout the stage, but when the descent before the final climb came 2km earlier than I expected, I was in a bad position and I knew I was on the back foot. “Oh no, here we go…”
As I watched the front of the race pull away from me, I panicked and saw my 5th place going along with Claudia Hausler, Marianne Vos, Mara Abbott and Evelyn Stevens. As we turned onto the base of the final climb, my teammate Carlee helped me get back to the front as quickly as possible and when I arrived, the attacking started right away. With the fatigue of chasing back to the front at full effort burning in my legs, the attacks hit me hard! I followed as many as I could but they were relentless. And it wasn’t just the riders who were attacking. Usually long climbs offer spots of temporary relief, around a corner or a small dip in the road, but the steepness of the climb was endless. All of a sudden, I was watching the front of the race pull away from me again.
I continued up the climb but as riders who we had dropped at the bottom came past me, I realised I was farther in the red than I had thought. I shifted my efforts to protecting my 5th place in the general classification but at the end of the day I finished in 9th place and 8th overall.
The closer I get to the podium, the harder the Giro becomes, because all the little things begin to count. From preparation and my race calendar, down to each decision and effort during a stage, everything adds up. I may have lost my 5th place in the GC but that last 4km on stage 5 taught me a lesson: the harder you work in cycling the more progress you make, but the more progress you make the harder you have to work!