Iurretta-Emakumeen Tour (Spain, UCI 2.1)

Yesterday was a tough day on the bike. It was stage 1 of Iurretta-Emakumeen, a 4-day, 5 stage tour in Spain’s Basque region. Although it’s a region which sees very little rain, we have managed to find 4 consecutive days of rubbish weather in which to race the tour. I’m not sure whether it’s the smoothness of the roads, or the build-up of oil and dirt on them, but I have never raced roads so slippery. It’s like riding on a road covered entirely with white line paint.
Stage 1 of the tour was 88km, which sounded easy until the weather + road conditions came to the party. You know that things are sketchy when even the Nicole Cookes and Marianne Voses in the peleton are going 12kph around corners. I think everyone had a hard time finding reasons why they were doing this sport yesterday. One of the Great Britain riders summed it up perfectly for me: ‘I quit cycling around 10 times during that race!’ To add to the mix, the first stage of a tour is always edgy, with people jostling for position and anxious to set up a good GC position for the rest of the tour.

Yesterday Rachel Neylan had some bad luck and came down hard. Luckily she hasn’t broken any bones but did have some internal bleeding which meant a night in hospital, some surgery and a few hours in intensive care. She is hopefully coming out of hospital today. Rachel had a great race in Durango-Duarango 2 days ago and finished 10th in a top class field. Our thoughts and best wishes are with Rach for a speedy recovery.

This kind of racing really makes me respect all the seasoned pro riders, who race in all conditions, all year, and train in the snow and ice when they are home in the winter. Bike races are rarely cancelled due to the weather. A favourite saying amongst cyclists is ‘Harden The F* Up’. Crikey, if some of these chicks were any harder I’d be mistaking them for day-old Italian bread.

This period in Spain is a big racing block – with the world cup, Durango-Durango (1 day race) and the tour, we will have been racing 7 times in 8 days. Between mouthfuls of pasta I’m trying to remind myself that it is all good prep for the women’s Giro d’Italia which runs for 10 days in early July.

Stage 2 begins at 3:30pm this arvo – 114km including some gnarly cols. And I am… you guessed it, rider #13. To follow tradition I’ve switched one of my numbers upside down. I’ve been waiting ages to do this, woohoo!

Ride happy.