17 February 2020
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister’s Maria David tries to keep up with Wiggle Honda

June 17, 2015
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The Women’s Tour stage race is here, which means the world’s top women cycle racers have graced our shores for some exciting racing this week.

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Team Wiggle Honda with their newest recruit – Maria (4th on right)

One team that will be hotly contesting the top spots is the Bradley Wiggins Foundation funded team, Wiggle Honda. With a clutch of national, Olympic and world champions on their squad the girls, led by Commonwealth Champion Rochelle Gilmore, will mean business this week.

On a beautiful morning I met with Dani King, Giorgia Bronzini, Annette Edmondson and the rest of the crew for a ride along part of the route of the final stage of the Women’s Tour, Marlow to Hemel Hempstead.

They were fuelled with a bit of toast, fruit, and porridge, a staple for many an athlete. I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll with a belly full of sausages and bacon!

Wiggle Honda Breakfast
Left to right – Giorgia Bronzini, Elisa Longo Borghini, Eileen Roe and Dani King

Some members of the team had raced the previous day in Belgium and happily for them they had got a victory thanks to Jolien d’Hoore, the Belgium national champion and in-form rider at the moment. Unhappily, they had been delayed during their channel crossing to the UK, and only reached Marlow at 3am that morning. So it wasn’t going to be easy riding along the rolling hills of the Chilterns just a few hours later. Furthermore, Annette (Nettie) Edmondson was sporting road rash on her arm following a crash in the race.

But hey, these women are tough. A couple of hours’ sleep and stiffness from a crash wasn’t going to stop them. “The best remedy for stiffness is to ride!” Joked Nettie, the reigning world team pursuit champion.

Sadly, for National Circuit race champion Eileen Roe, she was under orders not to ride. A crash in training a few days earlier had left her with a broken hand and that has put paid to her chances of any racing for the next six weeks.

But for me, I had to don my Wiggle Team kit, join in and try and keep up. “You’ll be ok – it won’t be fast,” says Elisa Longo Borghini, another form rider. “We are just doing a recovery ride.”

Good! So I will have half a chance of staying with them I thought as we rolled out of Marlow over the picturesque bridge on the Thames.

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L-R: Rebecca Charlton (fellow journo), Elisa Longo Borghini, Dani King, Jolien d’Hoore, Maria and Tim – Wiggle Honda staff and ride guide

The last time I saw Elisa was in Ghent for the Wiggle Honda team launch. She invited me to ride with them on that occasion but I declined, fearing I would slow them down. So here I was today, hoping that at least their recovery ride pace would be the same as my training pace!

Soon we were onto the country lanes of Buckinghamshire where I was able to keep with the group and even engage in conversation. A few of the riders raced in the Women’s Tour last year and enjoyed the event so much that they were glad to make the team selection for this year’s race – even though it clashes with the inaugural European Games.

Dani King was particularly pleased to make it into the team, after coming back from a serious crash at the end of last year. “I sometimes get a slight pain in my ribs, but overall I am feeling in great shape physically.” Having just had a victory at the Tour Series in Bath last week one can certainly see that she is on form.

This year’s tour goes to similar places to last year, but the route has more climbing, particularly on the Marlow-Hemel Hempstead stage through the Chiltern Hills, which has a few Strava Queen of the Mountains points to contest, and a number of other ramps.

“Having this type of stage at the end will make the race very exciting,” explains Dani. “Today the climbs are okay, but when you are doing this with four days of racing already in your legs it’s going to be tough. This could split the group.”

It was certainly tough for me riding with just one hour of pedalling in my legs! Cryers Hill spat me out of the group backwards and the same would have happened near Stokenchurch had it not been for Audrey Cordon giving me a push!

I guess my racing contract won’t be in the post any time soon!

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Maria David above right

But it was great to catch up with the amazing women at Wiggle Honda, especially on a day with weather starkly contrasting last year’s damp conditions. So, how do they rate their chances? Well, Wiggle Honda (like everyone else) will be watching the Boels Dolmans Cycling Team of Lizzie Armitstead, as well as Emma Johansson (Orica AIS).

There will also be British teams out in force ready to mix things up – Matrix Fitness with Laura Trott and Helen Wyman, Hannah Barnes of United Healthcare Professional Cycling, and Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International containing pocket rockets Sarah Storey, Joanna Rowsell and Katie Archibald. Last year’s Queen of the Mountains winner Sharon Laws (Bigla Pro Cycling) cannot be discounted either. But this will not phase Rochelle Gilmore’s squad.

“We have all different types of riders – sprinters, climbers, people who can do a bit of both,” says two-time world champion Giorgia Bronzini. “We will see what happens in each of the stages and we will just make sure to be ready.”

By the time we reached the pub just outside Prestwood, at the half-way point of the route I felt I had had a good work-out and was ready for food. So with that, Giorgia carried on to recce the rest of the stage, while I got a lift back to Marlow for a slap-up lunch!

Maria David, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Follow Team Wiggle Honda on twitter: @WiggleHonda
Check out Wiggle.com 

Read Maria’s blog here: www.2wheelchick.blogspot.com Follow on Twitter: @2wheelchick

 

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