Jul 31, 2011

Open de Suède Vargarda 2011 Road Race

CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
Sunday July 31, 2011 was the big day: the Open de Suède Vargarda, the penultimate race in the 2011 UCI World Cup Women's Series.  It was the only World Cup race on Juvéderm Specialized Mazda's calendar for the 2011 season.

We knew the race wouldn't be easy.  The field was strong.  Most of the best riders in the world were in the pack trying to score more UCI and World Cup points, and to show their team colours.  The race consisted of 12 laps of an 11 km course for a total of just over 130 km.  There was plenty of road furniture on the course, and enough bends and corners to deem it somewhat technical.  There were a fair amount of crashes, and even more close calls.  A few guys with yellow flags and whistles to signal the upcoming hazards could have prevented some of the accidents, but everyone is still alive.

I only managed to stay with the main field for just a bit more than half of the race before getting permanently shelled off with a small group of girls in the same boat as me.  The race was won in just under 3 hours and 20 minutes (3:20:00) for an average speed slightly over 40km.  I finished just a bit over 9 minutes down from the winner, 28 year old Annemiek Van Vleuten (Team: Nederland Bloeit).

Despite being very, very sick during the race, my teammate Denise Ramsden stuck with the main field until just before the end, and she still managed to finish only two minutes down from the winning pack.  A very impressive and admirable feat for a girl who found herself in a situation where most would have automatically pulled the plug on the race without thinking twice. 

The rain started to come down pretty hard only minutes after we had come across the finish line, perfect timing.  It was a great opportunity to race a World Cup race, and I hope we'll have more on the calendar for next year.   We have one more day in Sweden, and we'll be playing "tourists" tomorrow before we go back to our Euro home-base in Belgium on Tuesday. 

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