My first block of racing with team Illuminate has been quite the adventure!
I have already done a tonne of racing in New Zealand and Australia, but it was time to head across the world and do some epic races for the next part of my season.
Tour of Thailand
My racing with Illuminate started with the Women’s Tour of Thailand. Thailand was on my bucket-list to explore, so being able to travel there made me extremely eager to race. The actual town we were racing in, isn’t exactly somewhere I would travel too again. I am more into the yogi places like Chiang Mai and Phuket. Nevertheless, I was able to immerse myself into the beautiful Thailand culture. I experienced traditional food, massage and got to explore the markets in the city I was staying in.
Obviously, I was in Thailand to race, not just to experience the culture. It was a three-day tour, with a team time trial and three road races. It was super-hot (ice socks became a luxury), I liked being on ice duty for the team, as I was able to stuff several ice socks down my top, making me nice and chilly before handing them out to the rest of my team mates!
My goal for the racing was to try and have a good finish. The team worked hard for me at the finish, especially Georgia who became my key lead out rider! It was fun giving it a go, but I definitely have a lot to work on in terms of positioning and holding wheels.
Not only was it hot but the racing was pancake flat. This made it hard to split up the peloton. The Russians dominated the front of the pack, not letting anything away. Going into the last stage our team went in with a goal of ATTACK, ATTACK, and more ATTACK! Which we did!
We all tried attacking several times each. I managed to get a ‘decent’ amount of the front twice. However, ‘decent’ only meant a few hundred meters up the road, were I hung for a while, not really getting away. The Russians were determined to not let anyone escape.
Then, all my team mates apart from Shoko went down in crashes. Georgia was able to work me into an epic position before crashing a few k’s from the finish. It was scary hearing her go down behind me. However, I had to put that behind to have a good finish to not let her hard work go to waste.
Next, I was back home for an intense training block before China and Tour of California.
Panorama Guizhou International Women’s Race
Going into the Panorama Guizhou International Women’s Race, I didn’t really know what I was in for. There was little information about the race, all I knew is that I had five days of racing ahead of me. My past block of training has been focused towards Tour of California, and this race was being used as the last bit of preparation. My form has been really good, and I was excited to test my legs alongside my teammates against some strong competition.
Our team for this tour was diverse, even though we haven’t raced much together as a team we were able to quickly gel together. The culture of our team, is all about creating new learning experiences and having fun racing our bikes. This makes it easy to come together as a team and each race we worked better as a unit. All of us riders didn’t mind trying new tactics and racing hard at the front – we all love some good hard racing!
The first stage we didn’t have any major plans. I just wanted to see were I was at compared to the other riders. It took me a little getting used to all the jostling within the bunch, I had a lot to improve on from the first race.
For the second stage we were racing the same course and we were able to race a lot better as a team. Grace is one of our strongest climbers, so we decided to try and get her some QOM points. I became involved with getting Grace up into a good position for the climb, helping her score some points on the stage. I am the strongest sprinter on the team, so the girls helped lead me out into the finish. We did a pretty good job, but it was probably one of the scariest finishes I have done. It was a massive downhill leading into a right-hand turn, then 200m uphill to the finish. I had a better finish that day but still had a lot to work on with the finish. After this stage I was confident with my climbing. I was never pushing myself into the red zone, so I knew I had heaps left in the legs for the last few days of racing.
The third stage was miserable. It poured down with rain for the entire race, and there were so many crashes. Nothing interesting happened that day and I just rolled in with the bunch.
The fourth stage I wasn’t involved in too much action… I was saving my legs for the final day.
The last stage was where some fireworks happened for me. I hadn’t made much of an impact in the race yet, and I was determined to leave my mark on the race.
At around 35km it started to get a little undulating. I thought this was perfect timing to get in a break. I followed an attack up the outside and bridged to a break of several other riders. However, no one else was really doing too much and my pulls were by far the strongest. We were just about to get caught at the bottom of the first QOM. So, I decided to attack the break and solo off the front up the climb. I manage to get a decent break and win my first QOM points. The next QOM wasn’t for another 15km, but I got into time trial mode (my happy place) and kept going. At one stage I managed to get a gap of 45secs and scored another win on the QOM. However, the roads straightened out again, and after over 20km by myself I eventually got caught but managed to sneak my way into 3rd in the QOM classification.
My race wasn’t over yet, I still needed to hit out a good finish. This turned into a bittersweet moment. Grace did an epic lead-out at 500m to go. I launched my sprint a tad to early as I literally got passed meter from the finish to get forth on the stage.
After China, the team and I were off to CALIFORNIA!
Tour of California
Annoyingly, on the aeroplane I was sitting next to a pile of sick people. This meant I spent the next week fighting off a cold. Which wasn’t the best preparation for a World Tour Race. However, its just part of bike racing, and you can’t always have perfect form!
The first stage was flat and ended in a massive bunch kick. There were lots of crashes and luckily the team stayed safe. I literally just sat in the bunch for the whole race, which in retrospect was a bad decision because I gained nothing out of the first stage, and then had a tough race the following day where my legs suffered anyway.
The second stage was where GC was won. It was a bad day for me, no excuses – just wasn’t not my day. The team has two amazing climbers on the team, so me, Rebecca and Lexie worked hard to protect them and get them into the best position possible. We defiantly have a lot to work on in terms of being more cohesive. During the race, we often lost each other in the peloton and lost heaps of energy trying to find each other again. There is still so much to learn, but each race we get better and better with communication and riding as a unit!
The last day was a circuit race. I had nothing to lose. So, I went in with a plan to ATTACK! This never happened and instead I was struggling, pretty much attacking off the back. It was a relief to finish, and I was a bit disappointed that my form was off for the tour. However, I am so proud with how all my team mates rode, and cant wait to hit out some more epic races!
Head over to pro cycling stats for my results: https://www.procyclingstats.com/rider/mikayla-harvey