Lucy Coldwell, a British cyclist who rides for Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa, rode at the Ladies’ Tour of Norway between the 15th and the 16th of August with Servetto-Footon.
Neutral Service followed her progress, and that of the only other British rider in the event Alice Cobb. Alice, unfortunately, was forced to abandon due to a snapped cable; Lucy was more fortunate and, refusing to be intimidated by the presence of riders such as Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson, finished in a very respectable 29th, 3’22” behind winner Anna van der Breggen of Rabo-Liv.
Here’s her report…
The inaugural Tour of Halden was one of the races highlighted on the UCI calendar as one I’d love to do. As luck would have it I managed to find a guest spot for the tour with a friendly Italian team, Servetto-Footon.Halden is an idyllic little town, nestled at the top of a jord and very close to the Swedish border. From our hotel we could look across the water and up at the Fortress that was to be the host to our final stage of the tour. That view is one I would never tire of looking at!
The prologue was a 3km technical circuit, and one I certainly did not relish! After thundery skies all afternoon the roads were wet and slippery looking, and with twelve corners to negotiate in such a short distance, it was basically a game of sprint, corner, sprint, corner, all the way to the end. As expected Vos delivered a startling performance, to win and take the initial race lead.
Stage 1 was much more to my liking! The rolling 111km race started in the Swedish town of Stromstad before crossing the border back into Norway to finish back in Halden, taking in some spectacular scenery along the way.
The sun was shining and it was a great relaxed atmosphere as everyone cruised up to the start line a few minutes before we set off. The early stages of the race were fairly steady, with few attacks making ground. However at the last KOM sprint the pace of the attacking group continued over the crest of climb, and were quickly gaining ground. Caught too far back I scrabbled forwards and set into TT mode to try and get across to the leaders. With the whole peleton on my wheel, I was only succeeding in taking everyone with me. However all of the big teams were represented in the break and I knew that this move was gone, and it was do or die if I was ever to see them again!
Over the top of the climb we organised a chase with Bigla and Hitec riders, who also weren’t represented in the break. It took us a good 10-15km of chasing in an attempt to reel them in, but finally we had reached the lead group – or so I thought! Anna van der Breggen(Rabo-Liv) had attacked and established a five man breakaway containing Jessie Maclean (Orica-AIS), Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv), and Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon. They had a clear gap going into the last three 3km local laps of the town, and were going to maintain the lead to the finish.
As we hit the local laps of the town, it was strung out and just like a crit. After nearly 100km of racing the heat was on, I was hanging on for dear life as the main peleton was beasting it round the course and my heart rate was through the roof. Safe to say I was pretty relieved to cross the finish line!
After an exciting first stage, I was super motivated to see what the next day would bring! When we woke up for breakfast on the morning of the final day of the tour, once again the skies had opened up, the rain was pouring down and the streets were beginning to fill with massive puddles already! I think it would be safe to say I was not alone in feeling anxious about all of the descending we were going to be doing in this weather today!
Stage 2 consisted of three large laps, followed by three short laps setting off up on the hill from the Fredriksten Fortress, a total of 109km. Once again the terrain was rolling, with plenty of up and down. The roads were wet as we started, and I was keen to stay near the front and out of trouble! The pace was steady, with quite a few attacks going off the front, and a few small breaks forming, before being reeled back in. Often Rabobank riders would attack, and they would be closely followed by an Orica rider. I jumped onto one attack, when I saw that Rosella Ratto was also in the move, however it wasn’t long before we were reeled in. After this attempt I realised that early breaks were unlikely to go far, and were just going to soften up the field in the early stages of the race. Best to sit tight, and save some legs for the latter part of the race.
There were several heavy downpours, but I was having so much fun, the rain just seemed to add to the character of the race! Going into the last climb and sole KOM sprint of the day the pace was drilled and I was sitting behind 10th wheel. A gap appeared at 8th wheel as they crested the climb, and once again I tried to close the gap, but once again they were gone! Frustration!
This time the break contained Rabobank riders including Marianne Vos, Anna Van Der Breggen, Roxanne Knetemann and Katarzyna Niewiadoma. Orica-AIS had Emma Johansson and Valentina Scandolara. Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Lululemon) and Rossella Ratto also made the split. Once the favourites were gone I knew we wouldn’t see them again. Today I decided to save my beans, let the others chase and wait for the local laps, I knew these were going to be interesting!We headed back into the grounds of the fortress, and straight up a short climb, followed by descent, climb, right hander, gravel section, up a kerb and then onto a gravel climb. It was madness, and a bit like a circuit I would expect to see in a cyclocross race! Evelyn stevens had hit the front of our group in TT mode, and I was chewing my handlebars once again! Three times round the circuit saw me digging to the depths of my reserves, but I was determined to finish in this first chase group. In the final uphill sprint to the line my legs and lungs were screaming at me, and crossing the finish line I nearly fell off my bike, but made it! What a sight, I was covered in grit and mud from head to toe, and soaked to the skin. Despite all of that I finished with a massive smile on my face!
Every day I managed to edge a little further up the General Classification table, and my 21st place on the final stage allowed a final GC result of 29th overall. Pretty happy with that in a world class field!
Now the adventures continue, after a road trip across Sweden, and a ferry trip to Germany, two days later we have now arrived in the town of Chemnitz in East Germany, close to the Czech border. All set for a few days training here, then we depart for our next race, The Albstadt race, part of the Bundesliga in Germany.