The last few weeks I have been bouncing around Europe with the u23 national team.
First, I spent a few days getting used to the time change at the USA base in Sittard, Limburg, Holland. This was mostly just doing some steady and easy rides and waiting for the racing to start.
We drove down to France for a race called Rhone-Alps. I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t ridden hard in a few days either so I was a little antsy.
All this was forgotten when the race rolled around. It has been a while for me since I raced in Europe so I was happy to notice I was still pretty comfortable with the extra road furniture and little differences like that. Early in the race, I saw the opportunity to go for a time bonus, so I hit out from the group at around 800 meters and the other teams just looked at each other while I capitalized on the moment of indecision and snagged the 3 second bonus. This meant that I leapt over a lot of people in the GC to 11th which was pretty good.
Stage 2 was really rainy, cold, and windy. We did a ton of racing through fields and typical Euro misery and I felt like I was settling in pretty well despite the conditions, until Europecar went to the front, that is. Suddenly, the pace skyrocketed and I was really having to hold on. The race was fast all the way in and I got caught behind a crash about 10k out when I wasn’t close enough to the front. So then it was just full gas all the way to the end of the race to catch back up. I barely made it and then we made a right hander to go up the 500m finish climb and I was completely shelled.
Stage 3 was the queen stage and featured the most climbing. Ordinarily, that would favor me but instead I suffered through a bad day. I got dropped for good on the penultimate KOM and rolled in for the finish. This was disappointing to me but the point of coming to Europe is to do races that really challenge. So I was ok with it after a little while.
Stage 4 was much more controlled by the leading teams so the group coming into the finish was pretty big. There were some technical circuits that finished the race and I sprinted for a minor placing.
I had a few overall impressions about the racing. 1. There aren’t a lot of easy moments. Something is always going on at the front. 2. There is a greater depth of talent at the Euro 2.2s (The UCI ranking of the race). 3. The distance was greater than I’m used to, with around 415 miles over 4 days.
All of this is knowledge I can carry with me through the rest of the season and beyonf.
A big thanks to our staff at the race: Billy Crane (director), Yoost (mechanic), and Yuri and Marlene (swannies).