Peloton Watch
  Abby-Mae Parkinson Blog: A massive jump in at the deep end  
  April 6th By Abby-Mae Parkinson  
  Having turned professional at the start of the year with Servetto Footon AluRecycling, just out of the junior ranks Abby-Mae Parkinson jumped in at the deep end with her first races. Starting with the Women's World Tour Gent Wevelgem before the biggest women's one day race of them all the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

We started the journey to Belgium at 5am on Friday and arrived at the house where we were staying at 8pm (15 hours in a van!). With just carrots, apples and pasta for dinner it was an interesting first meal with the team!!

Gent Wevelgem

I was extremely nervous as it was my first race of the season and also a Women's World Tour race, a massive jump in at the deep end, but great that my team, Servetto Footon AluRecycling, have the confidence to put me in these races as a first year U23.

Jolanda Neff had told me it was her first race just a few years ago, which made me feel a little better! Pre-race meetings and dinner conversations are all in Italian which is very hard but having Jolanda to talk to was a huge help, even though I was kind of star stuck at first she's super friendly and such a lovely team mate!!

I surprised myself and actually really enjoyed the race. It was flat and fast for a while before we turned into a cross wind where it split up just before the climbs! I managed to find myself in a group with fellow Brit Dani King and my Italian teammate Katia Ragusa. I ended up 75th, which I was really pleased with... I had finished my first classic and WWT race! I stayed over in Belgium between these two classic races, which saved me two, more 15-hour journeys back and forth to Italy.


Ronde van Vlaanderen was crazy, the morning of the race we had so much press buzzing around the camper and we were asked to sign rider cards as soon as we popped our heads out of the door! Something I had never ever experienced. The atmosphere was amazing, I was so excited yet still nervous to get racing, this time the pre-race meeting even was translated into English at times. Which does help (must continue with my Italian CDs).

The race started off pretty calm on the big open roads but as soon as we turned onto the smaller roads it was carnage almost coming to a complete standstill on the first climb before the field being torn apart from one cobbled section to another! It's the first time I'd raced on proper cobbles and they are just as hard to ride on as they look!

I got pulled out just before the Kruisberg meaning I didn't go over the Oude Kwaremont or the Paterberg, I was upset I didn't finish but I think my legs were happy they didn't have to go up those two final climbs! I managed quite a long way and I guess I now have something to aim for... Next year (if I ride) I REALLY want to finish!

Grand Prix de Dottignies

Grand Prix de Dottignies was completely different to the two previous races. Eight laps of a 14km loop with about 700m of cobbles each lap and a fair amount of wind. It was pretty much pan flat so the race was really fast which wasn't ideal for my extremely sore legs from Flanders the day before (and the massive blister on my hand).

Miraculously I got round finishing 56th in the front group. I even actually enjoyed the little cobble section and managed to move up, maybe my old 'cross' skills coming into play! I just managed to see my boyfriend Jon Dibben who is racing under 23 Flanders this weekend before we rushed off after the race for an 18 hour trip home to Asti.

This coming weekend, we have a 3-day stage race in Southern Italy, which should be good fun with the whole team. It's an amazing new experience and so far, though tough, I'm enjoying every minute of the Euro scene.
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