Today we raced in Luxembourg at GP Elsy Jacobs UCI race. There were a few less girls racing today, but still 26 teams with six riders, and the roads were a million times better than anything we have raced on so far. We started the day off, of course, with breakfast and then lunch a couple hours later. I was actually able to sleep well last night, even though my bed is hard as a rock!- funny thing though, it’s usually in a hotel where I sleep the worst. We got to the race nice and early, which was good as everything seemed to be moving at a snails pace today. The sign in was funny, the announcer had been explaining about every rider up on the stage in each team, and we were joking around how all they would say for us is “this is..team Canada” lol. We got up on stage, and that was basically it, except the announcer said “ They were 19th in the TTT yesterday, they’re going to try and do better today”. We all burst out laughing, it was so embarrassing. It was interesting to see as well the different riders and teams there today. The big teams of course were all there, including the big names, but there weren’t many Holland teams today. They were mostly all from Italy, France, Luxembourg, Germany etc. Most teams also sent their “climbing teams”. They have select riders who are about 30 pounds lighter and specialize in climbing stages, like today. So right off the bat, I knew with the faster, fitter teams, it was going to be a crazy hard race. We pre road the beginning and the finish of the course before the race, and my skin started burning. I looked down at my hands and legs, and I had burst out in an allergic reaction. I’m not too sure what from, but my entire left leg and my arms and my left hand and my stomach were covered in hives. Everything was fine except my skin was burning, so quickly went over to our team van and they put some ointment on me and I just had to ignore it. The start line was at the top of a climb, but nice wide open roads. I was able to start near the front, and in the first 5km I was right at the front. I hope someone got a picture at some point, I was in the leading line of the group for a few minutes, I was so proud! Riding beside all the big names and teams at the front. It feels like such a small group when I’m at the front, and not looking over the sea of 150 riders from the back. There was a huge decent where we hit 70km/hr within the first 5km of the race. I had moved back a few places, but overall in the first 50kms, I wouldn’t say that I was any further back than 50th wheel. The roads were amazing in the first 50km. (It was a 50km loop before the circuits). It was rolling hills, mostly descents with a few steep, short climbs through small towns. The roads were in perfect condition, and very winding. The loop was surrounded in mountains and it was all forest. Luxembourg is the most gorgeous place to ride that I have ever been too (maybe not Hawaii). I remember thinking in the race, wow, no wonder Andy and Frank Schleck are so fast and skinny- they got to ride up mountains in the most amazing country since they were ten! I quickly had to refocus after that! Hah! I am quite disappointed I have not seen them yet at our races- I bring my camera every day just incase J Anyways, back to the race... So the pace picked up a bit through the big loop, but everything seemed to stay together until nearing the end of the 50km loop. There were a few larger steeper climbs, but short ones at around 44km. I was so far up in the group at this point- I was so excited, and I felt like I was climbing awesome. I was able to stay right up there! The pack shed quite a few riders at this point, and there were only three of us Canadians left now in the peleton. The group was really strung out, and was very hard at this point. I had fallen quite a ways back in the peleton, but was hanging in there no problem. There was a big decent before the climb to the finish, and everything bunched up again. We past the finish line, and we started the smaller circuits. They were 10km each, and had two really big climbs each lap. The roads narrowed as we took a sharp left hand turn, and up a very steep short climb. It flattened out for about 200m and then went very steep for just over 1km, and there was a GPM KOM sprint at the top of the climb. It narrowed into a very open, windy, winding descent and we were hitting very fast speeds. There was a 180 degree turn at the bottom and then we started to climb again. It was pretty flat to begin with, but it eventually kicked up, and was about a 3km climb. My legs were starting to cramp up really badly, but only when I stood, so I kept standing as minimal as I could. We passed through the start line again, and the feed zone, and up the steep climbs again. This lap shattered the group, and it split up into about four groups, with one chase off the back. I held on until the steep climb on the third lap, and then fell back with a group of about 15-20 riders. Heading onto the fourth circuit, we were time cut, unfortunately. I had a very strong race, and I know for a fact I’m improving and progressing really fast this season! I’m excited to see what this season brings, but I know with all this hard work i’m putting in, it can only be better than last! Today’s race pretty much fried my legs. I was cramping again, i’m not used to the distance of such a fast and challenging race with so many attacks and stand up sprints/climbs. Tomorrow is the exact same starting circuit, and then 6 circuit of a climbing route again. My back feels like its death, I need a back transplant. Anyone? I can barely sit on my saddle any longer. One more race here though tomorrow, I’ll try and make it a good one- I always give it everything I have! Had a basic dinner, meat, pasta and rice and veggies. Im so sick of pasta and rice. Im glad tomorrow is the last day of that! Im off to sleep though very soon, my legs are aching and im too tired to write any more. Night!