Parkinson claims Best Young Rider in Gandia
The first race of the European season Setmana Ciclista Valencia kicked off today in Gandia, on the Costa del Azahar. The 2.2 UCI tour attracted the maximum of 28 teams, which always meant that stage one would be the more hectic of the four. The first race of the season is always the most nervous, as no-one, bar the Australian racers, quite know where their race form is at.
Trek-Drops' plan of attack going in to stage one was to set up the GC contenders for the tour. Based on the course profiles, it was decided that today would be challenging, however not the most challenging of the 4 stages. The leaders for the tour going in to stage 1 were Kathrin Hammes and Anna Christian, however, with bike racing, things never quite turn out the way you initially plan.
The 118km race through the hills of the southern most part of Valencia saw the riders tackle two categorised climbs within the last 30 km of the race. The plan was to set up Kathrin and Anna for the first QOM, with full commitment from the whole squad. Tayler Wiles, the most seasoned rider on the team, was road captain, calling the shots, as no race radios were permitted.
Going in to the first QOM, a crash at the bottom caught out Anna Christian, and she was straight away off the back. Tayler Wiles and Abby-Mae Parkinson represented the team well in the front, and were able to follow the strong pace lead by Canyon SRAM. It was evident that Canyon was the strongest team in the race today, as they led it out into the final QOM, sending riders left, right and centre up the road.
Two riders managed to escape on the slopes of the final QOM. Kasia Nieuwadoma, and Ashleigh Moolman got a gap on the field, at a maximum of 30 seconds over the top of the climb. The long descent into the finish, meant that the two in front would have to put in a big effort to keep the gap from a charging group of 20 riders.
Kathrin, Abby Mae and Tayler were present in the selection of 20 riders, working well to bring back the two out in front. It was only in the final 300m of the race that Nieuwadoma and Moolman were caught, which then meant a reduced bunch sprint for the win. It would be Canyon SRAMS Hannah Barnes that would take victory, with our young Abby-Mae coming in for a strong 8th place.
DS, Loren Rowney commented
"Overall I am very pleased with how the team rode today. They followed all instructions and really gave it their all. Like I have said before, they are learning how to race as a unit, and the finish of the race we haven’t quite got finessed. This takes time, and the mere fact we had 3 in the front shows that we have a strong team here this week for this race. Tomorrow is a new day to try again!”
Abby-Mae Parkinson spoke after the race.
"I was really nervous before the race, I really had no idea how I was going at all. I managed to stay up near the front of the peloton for the technical parts which boosted my confidence, as staying up near the front has always been a struggle for me. I felt strong coming into the finish after the last decent so I put a couple of big turns in to catch the two leaders, I was first into the last corner and just gave it my all. I’m super happy with the result and it was great to have the Trek-Drops girls around me through out the race"