Seven Team Stuttgart girls – four stages – two days of rain – one castle – a ton of crashes in a picturesque setting in the Austrian Langenlois – that would be the snapshot of the three day stage race the past weekend.
When we arrived on Thursday a surprise awaited me – we would stay in a castle. Ok, havent had that one yet for race accommodation. Langenlois, the town all races started and ended in, is surrounded by hills covered with vineyards. It was gorgeous!
The first race – the flat 120km road race – told the story of European racing. The peloton was aggressive, unpredictable and for first-time users, nerv-wrecking. The course and scenery were spectacular.
Aggressive: Elbow rubbing and cutting lines is standard. One girl didnt want to just push me out of the way so she gave me a hug before she did. I was stunned. It seemed that there is a different attitude towards crashes. No one cares. With or without reason…it doesnt matter. During the fourth race, I saw a girl climbing out of a creek bed because she crashed in a corner over the rail. Nothing special it seems. I talked to a girl that raced three days after a car collision where she suffered a concussion. I havent heard that one before.
Unpredictable: The average age of the women’s field is way younger than in the US. I would guess early 20s. Thus, racers have less experience and take more risks. Total abrupt stops out of nowhere are not unusual. In addition, there is way more stuff on the roads – traffic islands, signs, cars, whatever is there stays there. Thus, every passage through narrowings becomes an adventure and a game of luck.
Courses and scenery: I raced in Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria and all of the courses were phenomenal. All super challenging. The elevation profile in the racing booklet doesnt mean anything. From the race in Switzerland a week ago, I learned that their elevation chart must be fitted to the scale of Alpe d’Huez. Because the profile seemed so flat! Someone should show me where they built in that massive climb in that elevation chart!
Oh and one minor detail. Only head wind exists here! Dont ask. I havent figured it out yet.
I definitely had to get used to a different kind of racing here. So even more I appreciated the help and the friendship of my Team Stuttgart! I was so happy to be part of such a great team. Thank you very much Gunda, Lena, Heike, Elena, Chiara, Franzi, Andrea for a great time in Europe. And a huge thanks to the team director Olaf and team support Anna and Frank!
|Upper row: f.l.: Chiara, Franzi, middle row: Monika, Elena, Gunda, lower row: Lena, Heike|