Peloton Watch
  Manon Lloyd Blog: 2016 Under 23 European Championships  
  July 23rd 2016 By Manon Lloyd @manonlloyd96  
  Being selected to ride the European Championships this year meant so much to me and was one of my biggest goals for the year, after missing out last year with a fractured pelvis and this year just a few months before Euros fracturing my sacrum... Yes a lot of fractures! Having five weeks off my bike so close to the biggest championship of the year made me very nervous as I thought I wasn't going to make the team and it would be a repeat of the year before. But I was determined for it not to be and knew I could come back stronger.

After five weeks off my bike I was allowed to ride again and it was just over a month and half to go until we left for the European championships to get back to full fitness. I knew if I wanted to make the Euros team I was going to have to give it everything and the next month was going to be very hard, consisting of double, even triple days on the bike.

After just two weeks of being back an opportunity came up for me to ride the Women's Tour of Britain. This would be the hardest five day stage race to date for me, racing the world's best women's teams on the road. I was so determined to finish the five days. Every day I went to the start line with the motivation of the benefit this will give me for the European Championships. I came out of the Women's Tour in such a good place fitness wise and I was soon back on the track and finding my track legs. It took me two or three track sessions to find my track legs but once I found them I was fine, and very happy to be going well on the track again.

Leading up to the days that our coach would let us know who was going to the Championships I was so nervous and couldn't stop thinking about it. I even had trouble sleeping over it because it was on my mind so much and I wanted to go more than anything. I knew it would be hard to make the team because we were all so close and everyone was going well.

"Congratulations, you've made the team." It was such a relief to hear those words, but this didn't mean I was in the TP team. There were six of us selected to go and only four could ride the TP, so I still had to prove I was good enough.

We didn't find out until the day we got to Montichiari, who would be in the TP team, luckily I was selected, along with Emily Kay, Emily Nelson and Danni Khan. I was so happy and nervous at the same time because I knew how close it was between everyone and I had to perform.

Most of our track training is based around TP but we only have a few occasions in the year where we actually get to race it, and the Europeans are one of them.

The day of the race I was so nervous, but I had no idea what I was nervous about; all we had to do is what we've been doing day in and day out in training. The conditions in the velodrome were perfect and I couldn't wait to get out and give it my all. From start to finish we did a nearly perfect ride, and to look up and see we had done a 4:25 was even better. That was our target time for the year, and to be honest I didn't actually think we would hit that. To qualify fastest and do a PB was amazing and we all couldn't wait to get stuck in in the finals.

We were up against the Italians in the gold and silver medal ride off, and we knew the Italians would be under pressure being in front of a home crowd. We went off and smashed it. We had them in our sights about six laps in. Once we saw them there was no stopping us. We all wanted it so much that nothing was stopping us not even the pain in our legs. We caught them and carried on going to see what time we could do. To know before I crossed the finish line that we had won was the best, we crossed the finish line and threw our hands in the air. All the hard work and training that we had put into this had been worth it. And to experience it with three other girls that wanted it just as much as I did made it even better, and again another PB, 4:24 and that's with having to over take another team.

I had forgotten what winning feels like, it really is the best feeling in the world for me!

It really was a relief to be in the TP team, but to be on the top step of the podium after the months leading up to the championships... Wow!!!
    Photo: UEC Photo: UEC Photo: Manon Lloyd    
 © 2016