Day one of Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen was a definitely a mixed bag for ORICA-AIS – showing some pleasing signs on the bike, but losing a warrior before the battle began.
2014 Australian criterium champion Sarah Roy posted the best result of her debut season with ORICA-AIS sprinting to fifth place in a difficult, pave bunch kick whilst team leader Emma Johansson picked up a bonus second earlier in the stage to start her general classification bid.
Unfortunately, a severe allergic reaction saw world track champion Melissa Hoskins rushed to hospital in the early hours of race morning. The 24-year-old was discharged around lunchtime in a much better condition, but it would end her first ride in the German stage race before it started.
Sport director Martin Barras fills us in:
So I was finally asleep after what felt like hours rolling in my own sweat due to the weather and inadequate air conditioning when the knock on the door woke me up! Bloody Russel! He’s been in a cheeky mood. I was ready to give him the ‘look that kills’ but before I could open my mouth I was hit with:
“It’s Mel! She is not well! We need to get her to the hospital! Now!”
Mmmmmh! I jumped in my clothes, yawned a bit then got to the elevator as Mel got in. I took one look at her and couldn’t help it:
From that moment on, the pace of things accelerated. I could suddenly speak German and understand the directions to the hospital. And I drove a bit faster! Get Mel through reception of the ultra new hospital and figure out the unusual admission system.
Turns out Mel got anaphylactic shock from a severe bout of food poisoning (nothing due to the food here, by the way!). By 04h00 I told her that she had until 14h45 to get better. She laughed (sort of) which told me that as bad as she was, she would be fine (and clearly not racing later today).
So we started with five riders. This meant a bit more responsibility on everyone’s shoulders but it’s a regular occurrence in racing (the responsibility, not the anaphylactic shock!).
Our main goal for the short 65km stage was to target time bonuses in the two intermediate and final sprint for Emma. Be opportunists but not at the expense of a debauchery of efforts.
A small break of two riders (Theres Klein from Maxx Solar and Ramirez Bauxell from Bizkaia) got away early and swallowed most of the first intermediate sprint bonuses (km 10). They were caught by a bunch animated through the first Queen of the Mountain (km 18) just after the second intermediate sprint, which saw some fine work on our part earning Emma a bonus second.
All good, we now just had to present for a bunch sprint and do our thing!
The girls were very good today at taking turns covering all the moves and we always found ourselves on the front foot of any threatening attack. This gave us confidence in our ability for the finish. In particular, Sarah Roy, after months spent recovering from glandular fever, finally found her mojo back and as the bunch drove towards the finish, she unleashed one of her famed “I’m going to go so fast for sooooo long by myself lead out”. It’s pretty impressive if you ever get to see one. She went from 1km to go and finally pulled off at 100m to the line! Job done! Legs are back! Feel great!
The only small issue was who was on her wheel: instead of one of us (the rest of our girls were mired together about 10 places back, frantically yelling “pull off, pull off”) it was local favourite Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM), who promptly took the cue and covered the short distance from Roy to the finish line in less time than it takes to say ‘Great job! Thank you!’
She got the win and the jersey out of it.
I don’t think anyone is waiting for the check to come. But that gave cause to give Roy a good ribbing on the way back. I’m pretty sure she will have a look in her wheel tomorrow before unleashing again. And we certainly expect her to tear some legs.