Saudaҫões from the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro! The sun is up, flags fluttering, and streams of athletes starting to emerge in the dawn to train or queue at the food hall.
It’s a long time since I’ve posted a blog because it’s been a busy few months and I needed to focus on racing, training, and recovery. The road to Rio hasn’t been entirely smooth, so I’m happily surprised to be here at all – and proud and delighted to have been selected to represent GB at my 3rd Olympic Games. I’m also immensely grateful for the quiet, undemanding, rock-solid support from my main sponsor NGI – even though the detour into road cycling has meant racing without their logo on my race kit for the past two months, and the rules of the IOC and BOA mean they can’t associate their support for me with the Olympics. I’m looking forward to catching up with NGI in Oslo and/or Perth later this year, to get back into some geotechnical engineering.
Aiming for selection for the Olympic road race and time trial in Rio meant committing to several stage races – a prospect that, honestly, did spark some trepidation in me. Road racing is tough. It’s supposed to be. It’s also the best training there is, for road racing. I was expecting it to be even tougher, coming from a spring of triathlon training and racing (rather than pure cycling), and I was right! The high intensity of road racing felt quite strange to legs and lungs trained for long steady efforts. But I was also pleased to find enjoyment in racing again – both the physical & mental challenges, and the company of great teammates. It was a real delight to race again with (and against) old teammates (and rivals) at Aviva Tour, the Giro Rosa, and Thüringen Rundfahrt. I’m grateful to the Lotto Soudal Ladies’ Team, and Great Britain Cycling Team, for giving me those opportunities. The racing certainly felt hard enough to challenge me and raise my game, I hope, for the races approaching. There have been a few encouraging days on the road.
However, I’ve always been an athlete who finds it challenging to manage the pressure I put on myself to perform, and this year especially I’ve naturally had some doubts as to whether I was on the right track. The low point was a hefty crash on day 3 at Thüringen, after which I limped round the remaining four days with only one leg fully functioning. It’s thanks to intensive treatment from an amazing medical and physiotherapy team at British Cycling that I’m back to pretty much full strength and mobility two weeks later, and I’m hugely grateful to them.
Just as important has been the encouragement of some dear friends, and the belief of my coach, who has never wavered in encouraging me that I have the potential, and to simply do my best. In the end, that’s all one can ask of anyone, including oneself. I can’t control the outcome of the TT - but I’ll give it every gram of energy, effort, and pain I have.
The Olympic road race is on 7th August and as in London I’ll be racing in support of Lizzie Armitstead. The Olympic time trial is on 10th August. I hope you all tune in and enjoy the racing, thanks as always for your support through social media, I really appreciate it.