Rainbow diaries: Champagne showers and the beginning of a new era

This blog was originally published together with Ella Cyclingtips 29 July 2017.

Hi everyone,

I’m back home after the Giro Rosa and what a race it was! It was my second time competing in the longest women’s stage race and the second overall win for the team, with Anna van der Breggen taking home the maglia rosa.

It was also the beginning of a new era for me; at last, I’m a full-time cyclist! 

Getting to that point meant my preparations towards the Giro were a bit unusual. I had a very busy period. Busy but rewarding as I finally, finally, finally graduated. I had four exams to take this year before I could receive my diploma, and they required a bit more energy and focus than I anticipated. I’m happy that my last exam is now finished so all my attention can be directed towards cycling. It’s my dream that this single-focus will help me reach another level.

The women’s peloton includes a lot of people that are juggling a professional cycling career, alongside academic pursuits to try and pave out a future career path. Special shout-out to all of them. I’m super impressed by their commitment to education and cycling but I’ve decided that I need a break from school to embrace the opportunities I have at the moment. I can study later, but I can’t cycle forever.

But back to the Giro. I made my debut last year, riding for eventual winner Megan Guarnier, which was really special. I didn’t have any personal ambitions in Italy, but the team had big expectations, so the opening stage team time trial was hugely important. I wanted to have a good ride to put Megan and Anna in the best possible position on their hunt for the overall win.

We won the TTT and had Karol-Ann Canuel lead us across the line first, which meant she could pull on the pink jersey. As the only rider from our team under 23 years of age, I got to wear the white jersey. I enjoyed that, even though I knew we wouldn’t ride to keep it as the focus was on walking away with pink at the end of the 10 days.

And what a memorable 10 days it was. Here are a few things about this year’s Giro I won’t be forgetting anytime soon:


When starting the Giro, we got a little road book, which showed some information about the ten stages. Even though my main job this Giro was to be a worker, I like to prepare myself for what is coming – is it flat sprint day with possible crosswind or hard climbs with (for me) gruppetto riding at the end? The only “little” problem is that the stage profile can be quite misleading.

The Stage 5 individual time trial was, for workers, a day where you tried to take it easy to save your legs. The profile looked relatively flat, but had climbs with a 30% gradient in it – not easy to ride easy up those! I was happy about my 39/32 combination, and actually I wouldn’t have minded even lighter gears.


This year the teams were bigger. It was up to seven riders from six riders last year – we don’t get 9 for Grand Tours like the men. Once there used to be eight riders, but that was before my time, so this was the highest number of teammates I’ve had in a race. The temperatures in Italy were sky-high and the extra teammate who could go back to the car for fresh bottles was so nice as we defended pink from beginning to the end. Last year we only finished with four riders due to crashes and illness. Fortunately this year we finished with the full team of seven. Those extra riders felt like such a luxury.


Making it to the finish with a full team, however, didn’t mean we were completely crash free. Stage 8 didn’t quite go to plan for me, but I was able to continue.


I had three top-10s during the race (not counting the TTT). And while our main focus was the pink jersey and keeping it on Anna’s shoulders, I did get the opportunity to sprint in the end of some of the stages. Given the focus on the overall, I probably used up more energy than I normally would have on a day where I was planning to be in the sprint at the end, but just the extra experience made it worth putting in the effort.

Every sprint is different, but the more experience you have, the bigger your chance is for picking the right line. One of the times I had a lead-out from my teammates, unfortunately ending a bit too early, forcing me to open my sprint sooner than I would have liked. The other two times I was wheel-surfing and had to try to make my way on my own. I would have liked to get on the podium, but missed the last bit of luck. The opening TTT stage win was my first Giro stage win, and that felt great, so of course, my dream is to win more. I won’t stop trying!


During the Giro, we mostly stay one night at each hotel before we move to a new one the next day. That means you try out quite a lot of hotels during tye course of a Giro. But every night was the same menu – pasta or rice with chicken and tomato sauce. I really do like pasta and chicken (my teammates can attest to that) and Italians do cook their pasta nicely, but after 10 days with the same food, it would have been nice to have some choices. Miss out on them at dinner time and you start looking for them elsewhere.

Normally, I eat muesli around three hours before a road race and so do most of my teammates. Some mix it with yoghurt, I mix mine with hot water or milk. But I find it funny how we all tried to change it a little towards the end as a way out of the boredom of eating the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner 10 days in a row.


Things like lack of variety in meals, though, are quickly put back in perspective when my mind goes back, as it often does, to fellow riders who did not get to finish the race. By now, most of you properly have read about Claudia Cretti’s horrible crash. I don’t know a lot about how it happened – information has been a bit scarce – but I do know that a crash like that is something all cyclist fear and try not to think too much about when racing. Claudia has been in my thoughts a lot lately and I’m glad to hear that she has awoken from her coma and now starts the long road to recovery.  I am really hoping she recovers well.

Next up for me is Ride London on Saturday and then the European Championship on home soil in Herning!

Until next time,