Junior Road World Championships 2016

On another flight home from my third World Championship this year, and bored with homework so time for a little blogging :)! In January, I competed in the U23 Cyclocross World Champs in Zolder, Belgium, then I won a bronze medal at the Junior Track World Champs in Aigle, Switzerland in July, and I am now returning from competing in the Junior Road World Champs in Doha Qatar. It's been a busy year!

"It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll!"

After receiving the confirmation that I was going to Road Worlds just over 2 weeks before I left, I quickly had to organise my next month. I was only back at school for about a week before I flew out, and have been gone for almost a month! Before heading to Qatar, the junior women squad spent 2 weeks in Belgium, training and racing. The four junior women who were selected were the same girls who went to Junior Track Worlds- Erin Attwell, Devaney Collier, Laurie Jussaume and me, of course! This made it really easy to pick up where we left off, and we already knew how to live together, so it made for a fun, smooth pre-camp. We had a solid couple of weeks of training around Canada’s base in Tielt-Winge, Belgium. The one downside of Belgium was that the temperature only reached a high of 20 degrees for a couple of days, and would drop as low as 5 degrees, which wasn’t ideal preparing for a 35+ degree race! To help simulate the heat a bit I trained in as many layers of clothing that I had and we also went and spent some time in a 50 degree sauna!

The squad: Laurie Jussaume, me, Erin Attwell, Devaney Collier

While we were in Belgium, we did 3 kermesse races (1 junior race, 2 elite women’s races). Kermesses are like high speed road races, and usually take place on a 6-10km course and can be anywhere from around 60-100km. Some of them even have prime laps, like a crit. The first one we did was the junior race, and there were around 60 junior/u17 women racing! This was the biggest junior field I had ever raced in, and was by far the most aggressive race I had ever done! The girls over in Europe were absolutely ruthless, and there would be lots of bumping and pushing to maintain your place at the front of the race, as well as you had to watch that you weren’t pushed into a ditch or the cracks in the road! We averaged about 38km/h and there were prime laps every second lap. I won 2 primes, and managed to stay top 10 for the whole race, until I lost positioning at the end. I ended up 13th in the final sprint, and had so much fun that I could not wait to race again the following day! The next day, we had to get special permission to race the elite women’s race, because juniors aren’t allowed to race on school days in Belgium. This race wasn’t quite as aggressive as the junior race, and I managed to stay in good positioning, but cramped up towards the end of the race, so didn’t have a great sprint. The next weekend, we did our last elite women’s kermesse and experienced every single kind of weather that day. Started with sun, then it started raining, accompanied by a thunder and lightning storm, with hail and wind. The road started flooding at one point and I could barely see anything! However, the rain just reminded me of home, so I raced even harder. For most of the race, there was a break up the road and I was active on the front trying to chase it down and going with breaks. At the line we were only about 200m off of the break but didn’t quite catch them in time! I was very proud of how I raced this race, and even better, I didn’t cramp up! Bad cramping in my legs has been something I have been suffering with this road season and have been trying many different solutions, such as more electrolytes, drinking enough water, extra potassium and magnesium and adding salt to my food to try and resolve the cramping before Doha.

Front line start of the 2nd kermesse :)

On October 7th we hopped on another flight over to Doha, Qatar. Devaney and I were only racing the road race so we had a full week to acclimatise as best as we could to the extreme heat. I had never experienced heat over 35 degrees Celsius before, so it was a bit of a shock when some of our training days hit highs of around 43 degrees Celsius! I was drinking around 6 bottles for a 2hr ride to stay hydrated! The situation was perfect though- we would wake up, go eat at a buffet that literally had everything (it was really hard to ignore all of the pancakes and pastries, although I managed to avoid them until after the race!), then after breakfast we would go ride (usually the juniors and elite riders would ride together, which gave us a great opportunity to get as much advice from the elites as possible!). After the ride, we had a buffet lunch, spent time at the pool, had a massage, then a buffet dinner! We were living the life! It was perfect. Going into the race, I was the most relaxed that I had ever been!

Swallowed by The Oyster
Photo-op on a recovery ride in Doha :)

The night before race day, we had a junior conference where I got to hear Eddy and Axel Mercx talk, along with the head of road UCI. My evening was then perfect, because I got to meet and take selfies with pro-riders Tiffany Cromwell, Elia Viviani and Marcel Kittel (who even liked the selfie I posted!!).

Selfies with Marcel Kittel, Tiffany Cromwell and  Elia Viviani!!!

It was a little cooler on race day, because we started at 8:30 am, and it only reached a high of 35 degrees that day. We warmed up, signed on as a team up on a stage and stayed cool until the last possible minute, using ice packs and maximizing the shade. I knew the start was going to be hard and fast, and that because call up was based off of countries UCI points, we didn’t have a lot so Canada started towards the back of the 81 riders. As soon as I could, I pushed myself as far up as possible to hope for a better start. Whistle blew, everyone took off and right away around the second round-a-bout, a girl went down in front of me and I kind of tumbled off my bike. I got back up as quickly as possible, did a cyclocross remount and chased down the pack. As soon as I got back on, 10-15 girls crashed again in front of me and I grabbed my brakes, screeched to a halt and managed to stay upright! Then I had to chase back on again, and finally reached the lead group shortly before the finish line.

Crash in the first kilometre of the race :/ oops!

We had a total of 5 laps to do of the 15km course and there were two feed zones, as well as a neutral feed car at the back of the race. By the time we came around to the second feed zone, I was ready for a feed, having almost finished both bottles. However, it was a mess! There were bottles being thrown everywhere and rolling out into the road, and girls attacking to the front to get a better spot to feed. My hand slipped on the bottle, and to my dismay, I missed that one. By this time, the water left in my bottles was pretty warm, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my good positioning in the top 10-15 riders to go back to the neutral car. The next time we came around to the feed zone I was in great positioning and set to grab a bottle but another countries soigneur was trying to feed an athlete from almost the middle of the road, and I ended up body checking her as I didn’t have enough space to get past! It kind of hurt, but I stayed upright and recovered in time to grab an ice cold bottle with (thank gosh!) a bag of ice attached, that I put down the back of my jersey. Staying in the top part of the group, I was able to follow breaks and had some more control of the race. I knew who to watch, and stayed near the right wheels with 2 laps to go. Despite all the effort I had put in before the race to avoid cramping, with 2.5 laps to go, the muscles in my legs started knotting but I tried to ignore it. As we got down to the final countdown, the riders got even more aggressive and there was yelling and elbow bumping and some very close calls with crashing! With 3 km to go, I was in the top 7 and jumping from one countries train to the next. But I wasn’t quite aware enough, because in the last corner I missed the rush of riders who came up on the inside, and ended up getting boxed in and had to fight my way out. Cramping legs and all, I managed to cross the line in 14th place, which wasn’t the result I was hoping for but taking into account all the obstacles I had, I was proud of how I raced! My first thought when I crossed the finish line was “All I want right now is to go do more racing in Europe!”. Congrats to my teammates for all racing a solid race; we’ll get it next year!

The next couple of days in Qatar, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the buffet and the pool, got to watch the pro men and women’s race and even better, I got to meet Marianne Vos! She has been my idol for the longest time- the way she has found success in multiple disciplines of cycling- and it was a very surreal moment! We got to check out a market, swim in the Persian Gulf and experience a bit more of the Middle Eastern culture before leaving Qatar, which was so cool (and the Gulf was so incredibly warm and salty :’)! To top it off, when were standing in the airport security line, who was in line in front of us? None other than Marianne Vos!

Meeting my idol Marianne Vos!!

This concludes my 2016 road season, and now it’s time to ramp it up for Cross Nationals in 3 weeks!

The Team :)

Thank you so much to TaG Race Team, Epoch Analytical, Power2Max, BORN Sportscare, Obsession Bikes, SCOTT bikes, CODE Sports, Turbine, Masimo MightySat, Catlike, Cycles Lambert, Podium Imports and ISM Saddles, Neil Davies with Jubilee Cycle, Richard Wooles, Local Ride Racing, Cycling Canada and the Hamilton Foundation for the project, and of course my incredibly supportive family, coach/dad and friends for helping me make this an amazing year on the bike!!

-Maggie :)


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