What is it like to be within a top women’s pro team, as it heads to Paris? Nick Hussey, founder of Vulpine cycling apparel is finding out. Hussey will report on the build up, team dynamic, the nerves and of course the racing, on the greatest circuit in cycling.
It never got serious until Stef pulled the race numbers out. Then the piss taking stopped and each rider went stoney faced.
Today we travelled from the Wyman’s base in Oudenaarde, Belgium, to the Chateau de Raray, just outside Paris. We set off in the pouring rain, with Christina, Mel & Kim staring out of teaming dark camper windows. We ended it in drinking under the stars, as the riders rested (well, they better be).
Joining us today were new recruit, American Heather Fischer, and Girona-based Olympian Lucy Martin. Both at 25 they are the elders to Kim, Christina & Mel’s younglings, 19, 21 & 19 respectively.
It was all very easy going, to keep nerves down. Welcoming introductions to Heather, light lunch, easy ride, chill, dinner. The enormity of riding the Champs d’Elysees wasn’t being alluded to, and I instinctevly kept my voice down as I told Martin the soigneur about the heavy rain to come in Paris. You don’t want rain on cobbles, especially not in a city clogged with diesel engines. If the riders knew that, and we started going on about how much harder it would be, that would really get the nerves jangling.
Here are the riders to watch for, as I see them, not by palmares, but by personality:
Helen Wyman – Every smiling mother duck, she’s the leader and the one they all look up to. We all do what Helen says. And we want to. Just don’t ask her about cheese jokes, unless you’re into cheese, and jokes.
Lucy Martin – Widnes born, Catalonia based Lucy is the most experienced after Helen. She gives off an air of maturity. A sensitive thinker and independent spirit, not too caught up in cycling as to lose herself.
Mel Lowther – I saw her last year, aged only 17, as the youngest rider in the first Women’s Tour of Britain. A quiet Yorkshire woman, she doesn’t brag. To be honest, none of these guys do. Still waters run deep.
Kim Le Court – French/Scottish/Mauritian, Kim comes across as deeply shy at first, but has a wicked sense of humour. She has That Look of willpower. You can tell she doesn’t mess about on a bike.
Christina Siggaard – Tall, relaxed, confident verging on cocky, Dane Christina seems utterly at home wherever she goes.
Heather Fischer – Funny, sassy and powerfully built, Matrix’ latest recruit oozes GO!
Tomorrow, we head for Central Paris. How and when will the atmosphere or easy going friendship change? Will it? How will they do? Will it rain? Will they be safe? Can there possibly be any more cheese jokes?