News from Yolandi at the ladies Tour de France
by YOLANDI DU TOIT
Posted on 10 September 2007 www.supercycling.co.za
It was an indescribable feeling to be one of the girls standing on the line to start the Woman’s Tour de France. It was a mixture of excitement, stress and adrenalin all together. The organisation of the tour was also really great; you knew every small detail about the stage, the events of the day, literally everything.
It was an 8day tour with 9stages. Mostly the stages were around 130km except for the one 160km stage and we also had a 100km race one day in the morning and then a 22km Time trail in the afternoon. My first 2 stages went well. I finished in the group. Here it works different than back home. If you drop out of the front bunch you get pulled out of the race. That way the can control the race and traffic better. Because every day we road from one town to the next.
The 3rd stage wasn’t so good for me, 30km into the race there were a cobble section on the road exactly in the middle where the white line normally is. The bunch reacted well and split into two passing it on both sides. It was 500m long. Except for this one girl, I am still trying to figure out what she was trying to do. But all I can remember was seeing her and her bike coming across to my side, straight into me. So I went down with her. I tried to get back on my bike as soon as possible but it was quite difficult because everything was shaking. I think it was because it was my first real bad crash and you have the doctor spraying you and patching you with stuff and your mechanic changing your bike and looking for your water bottles and me just wanting to jump back on to continue. I got back after chasing for 20km with my whole bum on the one side sticking out I was actually half naked, but didn’t care I just wanted to finish. It’s actually funny now when I think back about the whole incident. I was even shouting at the doctor because he didn’t want to leave me alone only to find out after the race he only understands French. No wonder he didn’t listen!
The 4th stage my mind was only set to push through the soreness of my crash and finish. And I succeeded. The 5th stage I got my motivation back, my bum and everything felt loads better, but unfortunately that feeling didn’t last long. It was a rainy day and a few of us took the corner too fast and I crashed again on the same side. When I picked my bike up from the ground my only thought was that this can’t be happening to me. It took me so long to get back into the group because my motivation was zero. Just to go through all the pain again just wanting to finish.
Stage 6 was long, 160km. It was the hardest stage and I knew if I can finish it, I will be able to finish the tour. I was so happy that day when I road over the line. My knee started hurting during the race but I thought it would be fine again the next day.
On that stage I also experienced a really funny part of woman’s cycling, 80km into the race they said over the radio that the race is being neutralised because the girls want to go for a toilet break. I thought they were joking at first, but the next moment half of the peleton turned off straight into the bushes. 5min later when everyone was back in the group. They started racing again. It was really funny.
On the 7th stage, I rolled up to the line and I could feel my knee wasn’t 100%. But I wanted to finish so badly, it was the 2nd last day. I started, but my knee just couldn’t bend probably it caused a lot of pain trying to do so. I went back to my team car and my manager said I must stop; there was no point in trying to finish and end my season after this tour. So I pulled out. I burst into tears when I got into the team car, my heart really wanted to finish that tour. But I know that I did try my best. That’s the most important for me at the end of the day.