Peloton Watch
  Hayley Jones Blog: Lotto Belgium Tour and European Championships  
  October 5th By Hayley Jones  
  GB Team at Lotto Belgium Tour (L-R Manon Lloyd, Abigail Dentus, Alice Barnes, Hayley Jones, Annasley Park & Abby-Mae Parkinson)  
  The start of September meant heading over to Belgium for the UCI 2.1 stage race Lotto Belgium Tour. I went over to race with the Great Britain Team, which was made up of six under 23 riders and for the first time this season I got to room with one of my good friends Manon Lloyd which I knew was going to make a good couple of days.

It was a four day tour, staring with a four kilometre prologue on bumpy paving (I wouldn't quite call them cobbles), I came in the first half of the pack which I was happy with considering I still had limited experience racing in the pro peloton.

Going into day two I felt pretty happy with where I was at fitness wise. My job in the race was to stay near the front and as the race went on it became to cover dangerous attacks, this was going well until 17km to go when I was in the chasing line as a small group was about 50m off the front, and I had a puncture, on the narrow lane, the cars couldn't pass so I had to stop and wait until car eight made it to me.

After a very quick wheel change I was off and back chasing onto the group, I was on the back of the convoy in less than 5km, made my way through to the bunch and got back on with 8km to go. Then with 5k it went hard for the finish and I had nothing, straight out the back.

Ahead of day three, I obviously was out of the race essentially but wasn't going to let that get to me, I spent the day sat up the front and giving the race a good go, coming into the finish it was fast and technical, my favourite, in these races I've learnt its just all about positioning no matter how good you are.

The final day of the race, I was pretty nervous as everyone was telling me riding up the Muur once was bad enough but we had to do it twice. I went and looked at part of it before the race started but as I learnt, it just kept going, you think you are at the top and it turns the corner and just carries on.

As this was on the finishing circuit, the race wasn't lit up to much, people were waiting, I ended up in the second group on the road after the first time up, it split and would come back together, after one lap I was just thinking, we have to do that all again. It was a tough day out on the bike for everyone but I was happy I made it through the race, as it was crucial training in the lead up to Europeans.

With Lotto Tour over it was home for two days and then out to France for European Road Championships, eight laps of a 13km circuit. The best of the best from around Europe were there. It was 20 minutes before the race, or as we thought, 1:40pm and we decided to ride over to the start, only to find out it actually started at 1:45 and we were the last team there.

This actually made me happy, there was no time to stand on the start line and get nervous, straight into the race, no neutral so from the start it was on, we went from 0-40km in about 15 seconds (Very glad I do many standing starts on the track). Straight down the decent, as a team we all used the 3km descent to get ourselves to the front of the race by the time we hit the base of the 1.8km climb to the finish.

In training I thought, this climbs not too bad, I was thinking it could be worse. Oh how I was wrong, in the bunch going up it with the pace on it was a completely different story. Up to the top of the climb and that was one lap done, a lap entailed climbing and descending and not much else.

Four laps into the race and I realised today was not my day and I was out the back of the race. I would love to give plenty of reasons and excuses why but I don't have any. It just wasn't my day on the bike, I have spent a lot of time working on my climbing over the last 12 months and it has improved immensely but apparently not enough. I gave it 100% but that just wasn't quite good enough on the day.

It was a very good learning experience to ride Europeans but since then I have flown back to Australia to see my parents for the summer and get some good training in here. One fact about me - I do not like the cold. I have also had a few weeks off to relax and reflect on the season. I have learnt not to let a bad result get me down, and you just have to move forward, which I am doing, I've just got back on my bike (its scary how much fitness I have lost in two weeks!) and starting to prepare myself for 2017.
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