Stage 2 San Martin RR

After yesterdays debacle I made sure I was ready and waiting outside the hotel with plenty of time. I was totally knackered which seemed to become the theme for the week. There had been a big group of 14-year-old girls (staying in Malta to attend a Netball tournament) check into the hotel the night before and it was typical that the majority of them were put on our floor. My room was in the middle of them and I was surrounded on both sides! These girls were unbelievable; they just seemed to continuously run in an out of each other’s rooms 24/7 slamming the doors with all the strength they could muster! They were louder than loud, they were rude and a lot of the guests were complaining. The problem seemed to lie in the fact that their teachers were not much older than the girls themselves and had literally no control over them so I realised on their first night that sleep from now on was probably out of the question!

Team getting ready for stage 2

Team getting ready for stage 2

We rode out to the start of the race and a few of the guys and girls were pushing the pace on the climbs but I just hung back and rode steady. We got to the start line, which was towards the top of a steep hill. After yesterdays TT there was only a handful of seconds separating the leading Maltese girl and Mathilde Mathisse riding for Bonita Squadra Corse so I had a feeling this race would kick off right from the start. I wasn’t wrong! By the time most of us had struggled to clip in on the steep hill the front-runners had surged away up the hill with the rest of us desperately trying to go with them. Sam and Frankie managed to hang onto them whilst Annabel and myself royally messed up and couldn’t get clipped in!! We had recently had bike fits from the brilliant Vankru and my cleat position had been drastically altered, unfortunately I had not yet had the time to get used to it and every time I go to clip in I mess it up as my brain has not re educated my feet to hit the right spot!! So there I was desperately trying to clip my foot in whilst there is a massive attack going off the front, it went from bad to worse as I realised I couldn’t waste anymore time so had to surge with them with my foot balanced on top of my pedal, it obviously did not work and I watched the girls move away without me. I somehow managed to get over the top with one foot hanging out and clipped in on the descent, I chased wildly down and knew I had to regain contact before the bottom where we would turn into a full on headwind and I very nearly made it. So close yet so far!! I turned into the headwind on my own and the group seemed to be within reach, Annabel had a similar cleat experience and came round me and we tried to get onto the back of the group but to no avail, they slowly moved away without us, that horrible realisation that you are working as hard as you can and they are not gaining any time on you but you cannot pull them back until they eventually drift away!

 

I looked at Annabel and she said “well we royally messed that up

Annabel & Victoria - Tour Ta Malta ©Gin Sin Photo

Annabel & Victoria – Tour Ta Malta ©Gin Sin Photo

!” and she was right! To be honest the group split right after that as they hit the climb and whittled down to a select few so I wouldn’t have expected to last with them but it would have been nice to at least have the chance!!

Frankie and Sam were faring better than us, which wouldn’t have been hard! But they also started to lose distance on the climb. Frankie came over the top just off the back of what was left of the main group and was riding well until she hit a slippery patch on the descent and came off. She wasn’t the only person to go down on this corner but unfortunately she was the worse off and had to go to hospital in the ambulance. Another victim of the slippery road was the Maltese rider who was currently leading the race; she had crashed but was OK and ended up joining our group for a while.  Annabel and myself had picked up another few girls and had a working group of 5 girls which then went to 8 as we picked up more dropped riders.  Annabel was the strongest of this group and we were all struggling to keep her pace on the climb, having to chase back to her on the descent, after a few laps Annabel decided to go it alone and did an awesome effort, staying away from us for over a lap.  On the penultimate climb our whole group split up with Annabel off the front again and only one Maltese rider being able to hang onto her wheel. Annabel soon distanced her on the last time up the climb and finished strongly on her own.  I hit the bottom of the climb for the last time and went on the front trying to keep a steady rhythm and not blow up, I just kept going and it wasn’t until a motorbike beeped me to come past that I turned around and realised I was on my own. I had distanced the rest of my group. I kept going expecting at any minute for them to catch me again but I couldn’t see them behind so I pushed on and came over the line very happy that I had managed to stay away.

Sam avoided crashes and managed to stay in the group longer than Annabel and myself (which wouldn’t have been hard as we were never technically in it!!) Sam rode with another couple of girls for a while but then also rode away from them to finish in 16th place.

We arranged transport for Frankie’s bike and equipment and waited at the hotel for news. We were all concerned. All we knew was that she had been taken in the ambulance but at least she had our tech guy Dave with her.

A few hours later they rolled up in a taxi and poor Frankie emerged with her arm in a sling, fingers bandaged up and stitches in her leg. She was however very upbeat and was even considering racing the next day! Tough girl! ☺

Some welcome news was that my good friend and sports masseur/physio had arrived. Nicky Grayson from Beverley Wellbeing clinic had offered to fly out to Malta to help support the team and massage us after every stage, which we gladly accepted.  My legs were already getting very heavy and tired and to be able to go and see Nicky and have them flushed out really helped. I’d also been suffering with my neck and shoulder so Nicky taped these up for me, which helped in the following stages.