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Italy: Early March: We race along the dusty roads of one of the opening World Tour Races of the year for us. We are racing for my housemate and friend, Kasia Niewiadoma, the Polish champion. Unsurprisingly, the dirt roads are causing carnage, and a mass crash happens ahead of me. I spot the jersey of a teammate in a nearby gutter, or gulley on the side of the road. From her frame next to her I see the legs of another rider sticking out, but her top half invisible. I pulled over realise its Kasia, our leader upside down. I wrestle her free from under the bike frame, thinking this sort of shenanigans only happen in Pixar films. Up and on her bike, she raced off whilst we sorted ourselves and carried on. While I’m sure everyone has a funny crash story, I’m not going to forget seeing my little polish chicken stuck down a hole at a crucial moment of the race and climbing down to free her from underneath other riders, and then seeing her at the finish after she managed to fight back to 2nd place. I know she was disappointed not to win but being around that tenacity is inspiring.
2017 has been a year of new starts for me, yet it feels strangely like coming home. This year I have changed teams from Hitec Products to WM3 Pro Cycling, I am now living in Girona, Spain and I have taken a new perspective on balance, cycling and indeed life in general. It’s also pretty cool to be back racing along side Marianne Vos and working again with Jeroen Blijlevens as our DS, they both inspire greatness and I find it a privilege to work alongside them.(again.)
I started my pro career with Rabobank in 2012 and rejoining the same organisation in 2017 has taken me back to my roots and got be pretty damn excited about bike racing. For most people that know me, they would agree that I fit into a ‘dutch’ environment and Im loving being ‘back’. So far the racing has been both up and down with the team, while results wise we haven’t pulled off a big win yet, the atmosphere with the girls is pretty cool to be a part of and it gets me pumped up for what I know we will achieve together, whether that be this weekend, next week or next season. Its a process and it takes time to build a team, but we are doing just that at WM3, so keep and eye out!
But life is not just about bike racing, that’s why I’m slowly making my way through a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning or BURP, ;). Its important to have something else to think about then bikes and races and training, so over the past five years and probably for another year or two I will find that in my degree, which I really enjoy, but still always leave to the last minute…
Next up for me is Gent Welvegem in Belgium this weekend, make sure you look out for WM3 and hopefully I won’t loose my polish chicken down a hole this time.
(and watch this space for regular blogs throughout the year!)
Words: Lauren Kitchen @LaurenKitchen1