For the 6 day race, 7 stages we were based on a campsite staying in static caravans with the rest of the teams in the race. Each stage was about an hour and a half travelling to get to the start of the race and a similar distance back in the evening.
It has been said to be one of the hardest stage races on the Women’s UCI calendar due to the race distances and mountainous terrain. However I was looking forward to the challenge and racing in mountains.
Stage 1 
16 laps of a 4.4km circuit with the finish 5km off the circuit.
A fast flat race with a kick over a narrow bridge every lap, stringing the field out and causing a few standing starts over the bridge if caught on the wrong side of the group. Being able to move half way up the bunch but no further due to the nature of the circuit and not really wanting to move through the bunch as a rider went over the handle bars directly in front of me. With one lap to go I was positioned well in the first quarter of the group but with a narrow bridge with about 300m to the finish I was squashed further back to finish 85th. Not too bad, happy to finish in one piece and was looking forward to some climbs in the road races in the next few days.

Stage 2 
TT- 10.6km
From the profile of the TT it looked fairly flat not too complicated; however having driven around the course it was quite a technical with a 14% climb in it, no idea how they managed to miss that off the profile in the manual! Was more of a ‘got round’ rather than a ‘full out effort’. With a fair amount of sharp gravely corners I was probably being a little too over cautious, but I got round and didn’t loose too much time considering the amount of TT’s I have ridden.

Stage 3 
Got over the first climb well but then I got a puncture at the bottom of the descent. The team car was quite far back and had to wait a while for a wheel. The motorbike commissaire wouldn’t let the team car take me back to the group I was with so I ended up riding 25km by myself. I was caught by a group of 5 riders with 2km to go to the finish.
Happy to finish but frustrated to get a puncture. But that’s all part of bike racing.

Stage 4
Now entering the unknown, not having ever raced more than a 3 day stage race I had no idea how my legs were going to react. Starting with a 12.2 km climb, splitting into the 2nd group, descending well approaching the second climb. I was dropped going up the second climb but I caught back to the group on the descent. The group worked well to the finish, a tough day.

Stage 5 
The hilliest day of racing covering 95.8km.
I tried to position myself well for the first climb to give myself the best chance of staying with the main group for as long as possible. Starting with a Category 2 climb shortly followed by the only HC climb of the race, managing to sit in the front third of the group I was positioned well. With 5km to the top of the climb I was distanced from the front group and I was in the second group on the road, then with 2km to the top of the climb I was once again distanced from the group, meaning I was riding by myself. Thankfully I was descending better than I expected and worked my way through the cars down the descent to catch back to the second group. Another category 2 climb to get over and a category 1 climb to finish the day off with a summit finish. Pleased with my ride to get 43rd on the stage. Defiantly a hard day on the bike.

Stage 6 
Longest day in terms of distance, 136.3km.
The race began with a flat fast crosswind section which really stung the legs, managing to keep with the main group up until about half way up the first climb at around 60km. Settled into a group to finish the race… very tired!

Stage 7
Last day! 128km,
Starting with a sprint only 4km in to the race it was a fast start. Followed by a uncategorised climb (I’m sure it should have been categorised), I was dropped from the main group fairly early in the race and I knew it was going to be along day. However an hour into the race and my legs seemed to come round, working well in a group of about 6, glad to of competed my first 6 day stage race.

I would like to say a huge thank you to the Racing Chance Foundation and Fred Whitton for enabling us to compete in the race, without the support I would not have had the opportunity to race in such a fantastic event. Also to Rene, Steve, Christine and Andrew for the fantastic support at the race.
And lastly to all of the girls on the team for making the trip enjoyable.

A fantastic race, very challenging but all good fun.
I have never been over so many hills or raced so far. I managed to complete the furthest race I’ve ever competed in (136km)!
Still lots to learn, can’t wait to do it again!

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