The Womens Tour of New Zealand kicked of with a pancake flat, but technical team time trial through the streets of Masterdon. The High5 dream team got off to a solid start, finishing in 6th place 1:30 behind the winners, team USA. The race contained a few unexpected variables, one of which was having to dodge a schoolboy on a scooter attempting to cross the road in front of us. Luckily, the terrifying sight and sound of four screaming and shouting women travelling at 45kmh towards him was enough to stop him in his tracks.
Stage 2 was a 125km road race through rolling hills from Marsterdon to Martinborough and back, with 3 laps of a 6.7km circuit around Martinborough, creating a kind of mini kermesse halfway through the race. The race started conservatively, with USA controlling. After the circuit through Martinborough the attacks started coming, mostly from the Australian team. We worked together, making sure we had someone going with each move, although some of the attacks looked dangerous, nothing was really staying away. A big crash at around the 80km saw almost half the peloton hit the ground. I was lucky enough to have a nice soft landing in the grass on the side of the road and was able to get straight back up, unfortunately Georgia hit the asphalt a little harder, but luckily she was able to get back on her bike and eventually we were both able to chase back onto the bunch. After the peloton slowly grew back to it’s original size, the USA continued to control the race leading into the finish. A headwind run into the finish made it difficult for anyone to sneak away early and with most of the peloton back together after the crash, it was going to be a big bunch sprint. It was a great result for the High 5 team with Georgia fighting back after the crash to finish 3rd and Jess finishing in 6th place.
Stage 3 was 130km, with 10 laps of a circuit around Carrington, with a short but steep climb on each lap threatening to do some damage. The peloton was reserved to begin with, similar to stage 2, but after the QOM on lap 4 the race was on, with attacks going one after another. A break of three riders, including Ellen was established and was looking dangerous as the gap got out to around a minute. However, the Australian team, who missed the break eventually reeled it in on the climb on lap 8. As this happened, the USA countered and then the pace was on going up the hill. A group of 9 riders including myself got a gap on the rest of the field and started working together to stay away. With 5 of the strongest teams represented, and the gap going out rapidly, it was becoming clear that this was the winning break. We continued to work together until the start of the final lap. I attacked at the base of the climb on the last lap, but being a group of strong climbers, I just couldn’t get away. Attacks and counter attacks kept coming throughout the lap until we turned onto the finishing straight where it became a game of cat and mouse. When we slowed to 18kmh I started wondering whether the race would end in a trackstand competition. But then Rachel Neylan from the Australian team put in an early attack, but was chased down by Evelyn Stevens. Katrin Garfoot from the Australian team sprinted to win the stage. I finished up in 7th place and was happy to move up to 8th in GC.