2015.08.17 - News reporter
The first half of the â€œLittle Tour of Scandinaviaâ€ is a wrap, and Iâ€™m already back home in Norway. It was three intense days of racing â€“ and while I definitely enjoyed the racing, more than anything, I enjoyed getting to be a part of a race that showcases my home countries in such a beautiful way.
The weekend started out with a short criterium on Friday night. Itâ€™s a separate race from the two-day UCI stage race on Saturday and Sunday, and it was exactly what my legs needed to get ready for the weekend.
I finished in second place out of a four-rider breakaway that formed late in the race. Shelley Olds (Ale Cipollini) outsprinted me to the line â€“ just. I know in a straight-up sprint, Shelley will always be faster than me, so I tried an attack in the last lap. When I wasnâ€™t able to get away there, I made sure that I was first through the last corner. Even having the advantage through that corner, Shelley was still able to come around me. She was just faster in the end.
I was actually surprised at how good I felt considering I hadnâ€™t included much intensity in my training following my last racing block with ThÃ¼ringen, London and the Bochum World Cup. Mostly itâ€™s been easy rides â€“ plus one pace session that probably helped me a bit.
Anyway â€“ the crowds on Friday were great. The course was nice. The weather was lovely. And everyone was excited to be back in Norway. That made me excited to have everyone in Norway, and I knew it was going to be a good weekend.
The first stage was quite active. The race on paper was easier this year than last year, but it was windy both days, and that made the racing a lot harder. There were lots of attacks in the first half of the race until eventually my teammate Amanda Spratt got away with Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans).
Rabobank missed that move. They actually seemed to miss most moves on Saturday, which is not normal for them. There was a big breakaway that had three from ORICA-AIS, including me, two from Boels-Dolmans and only one from Rabo. Everyone had the numbers except for Rabo, and I donâ€™t think that they were happy with the one that they had. The big move eventually came back to the peloton, and Spratty and Megan got away after that.
I was a bit surprised that Rabobank allowed Megan and Spratty so much time. I expected them to start to chase earlier. They eventually started to attack, but it was a bit too late at that point, and in the end, their strategy seemed to make things harder than it needed it be. They only had Kasia Niewiadoma and Anna van der Breggen left to chase when we hit the finish circuits in Halden. They rode strong and brought it back to only eight seconds in the end.
Megan beat out Spratty, and she took a couple seconds on the line plus seconds at the intermediate sprint. Spratty wasnâ€™t the only one from the team on the podium on Saturday. I received the special Borders Sprints jersey for the first rider to cross from Sweden, where the race started, into Norway, where the race would finish. I won the prize last year, too, and I have to admit, I quite like the special jersey and the podium boys who deliver it.
We were happy to have Spratty in second, but it also put us in a difficult position for the overall, which was our main goal. But Spratty wasnâ€™t our only card to play come Sunday. We also had Vale, Gracie, Lizzie and me on bunch time, and that gave us options.
Sunday was just as aggressive as Saturday, but with the overall already partially sorted, most of the breakaways never stood a chance. For example, I wasnâ€™t allowed to ride with riders that were ahead of me on the general classification, and Iâ€™m sure many other riders received the same directions. This made it difficult to create a good group.
I had a couple of times when I was away, but there was always one or two riders ahead of me overall, and I couldnâ€™t ride with them â€“ so it was back to the bunch. An especially strong group formed after the second mountain prize, but with both Shelley and Megan there, I couldnâ€™t ride. And everything came back together. In the end, it was a bunch sprint.
Shelley won the sprint, and with the sprint, she took ten bonus seconds. With the bonus seconds, she jumped up the overall into second, bumping Spratty down to third. We were happy to keep Spratty on the overall podium, and we were proud of the way we raced.
The special weekend was made extra-special by a surprise visit from my friend and â€œbakerâ€ Sten who came to watch me race on Sunday. He brought “knÃ¤ckebrÃ¶d” and homemade jam with him, which is my teammate Lizzie Williamsâ€™ favourite bread â€“ and as it was her birthday on Saturday, I was very excited to be able to give her the best “knÃ¤ckebrÃ¶d” in Norway.
I absolutely loved showing off Norway and a bit of Sweden to everyone. It means a lot to share to places where you live and where you come from with people you care about, so this was a great weekend for me.
Iâ€™m looking forward to round two in Sweden next weekend for the VÃ¥rgÃ¥da World Cups.
Name: Emma Karolina Johansson.
Born: 23 Sep 1983, Sollefteå, Sweden.
Team: Wiggle High5
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