The Jayco-AIS women’s endurance team will line up tonight to contest the seven day Thuringen Rundfahrt in Germany. The women will race seven stages across seven days, beginning with a prologue in Gotha on July 14.
Team members are;
Gracie Elvin Rachel Neylan Sarah Roy Jessica Mundy Jenelle Crooks Lizzie Williams
I often refer to the racing season as a season that has its rhythms and cycles.
The Thuringen Rundfahrt (Thuringen as we call it!) is just part of that. It marks the height of summer with lovely weather and bucolic pastures over the rolling hills of Thuringia, in eastern Germany.
It’s a little bit like that family holiday where dad sits on the porch all day, reads the paper and drinks beer, mum lies on the couch all day, reading her magazines and sipping gin and the kids are mind blowingly bored! Hell, it’s so bucolic that even the Germans winning the World cup yesterday did not trigger an explosion of street celebrations - just a couple of fireworks then every one got back to bed!
Except for the riders, this is no holiday at all. Thuringen has the reputation of being one of the hardest races there is. It stops being fun by day two, does your head in by day four and by the last day (day 7), you are looking forward to the porch, couch and the long tall drink that comes along with it.
This year, Vera Hohlfeld and Franziska Grosse (organisers) have even found a mountain to add to the proceedings, which will follow a 20 kilometre time trial.
At 128 kilometres, this mountain will easily be the Queen stage and will define the final classification. Some small adjustments have been made to the final stage with three ascents of the famous “Hankaberg” which is sure to test the riders.
Friday will also mark a special day for the Australian Team, as it will mark nine years since Amy Gillett was killed in a training accident whilst racing with our team here. For the organisers and us, we are always keen to mark this day and Amy’s life with the respect it deserves.
Our team is a versatile mix for this race. We are led by Australian road champion Gracie Elvin, who will be supported by Rachel Neylan, Sarah Roy and Jessica Mundy, while Jenelle Crooks and 2014 Amy Gillett Scholarship recipient Lizzie Williams, will debut in their first race ever in Europe.
Despite being nineteen, Jessica Mundy is the only one of our girls to have raced this event before.
Overall, it’s an event that will likely be dominated by the stronger professional outfits. Specialized Lululemon have brought the heavy artillery in Trixie Worrack, Evelyn Stevens and especially Lisa Brennauer.
But the clear favourite for the event is World Cup leader Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) who not only will she have a strong team, but Armitstead is the clear and outstanding favourite for the upcoming Commonwealth Games and is using Thuringen as her final preparation. As fellow Commonwealth competitors we will be keen to keep an eye on her and do our best to shake up her plans.
Righto, I am looking out the window and am seeing blue skies, the patio of the hotel and a table set just for me… time for a drink!