Wow I keep pinching myself to see if I am awake and this has really happened. After last weekends racing in Matane at the World Cup I assumed the Canadian Marie-Eve would be with me for the entire 3 laps.
The weather was fabulous (finally), a lovely 21 degrees but felt much warmer in the sun. Most of the course was in the sunshine and at one point I thought it may be to my detriment as my body doesn’t handle heat at all! But I had my support staff spraying me with water each lap which helped a lot!
Marie-Eve and I dropped the rest of the riders about 3km into the race and for the entire first lap worked together. She is extremely fast on corners so I let her take most of them. She also scares the bejesus out of me so I am happy for her to go through them first, but I knew I was a better climber, so was testing her on the hills.
We came through the start/finish line and started the second lap and the climb. Halfway up the hill I tried to get her to take a turn on the front, but no matter which side I went to she followed. At one point I slowed right down and tried to slip in behind her. I had a look at her and she was really struggling, so with advice from a number of people before the race I decided to really test her. I told her I wasn’t dragging her up the hill and with that I surged. As I turned the next corner I looked back and couldn’t see her! I had broken away with still 2 laps to complete!
I decided I just needed to try and pull even farther away from her, so I was fairly cautious on the corners but climbed every hill like she was on my tail. About halfway around the 2nd lap I was advised that I was 33secs ahead of her and 2:25 ahead of the others. To me 33 wasn’t enough because I know how good she is technically, so I kept doing what I had been doing. Halfway through the last lap our head coach Peter Day was on one of the corners yelling at me to be safe on the corners as I had a huge lead…that still didn’t tell me how much, but I did as I was told. However it is not in my nature to take it easy and for everything else I gunned it, even sprinting to the finish line!
By the time I finished I was spent and it felt like I had just done a full on time trial! But I couldn’t believe that I had just won, to be honest I don’t know if I was as confident coming into this race as the Time Trial, however I am happy to say that once out there my confidence grew with every kilometre!
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that after last year and the Paralympics, I would still be racing at this level, let alone winning.