Ella Harris was CANYON//SRAM Racing’s best placed rider on the summit finish of Mont Ventoux today on stage five of the Virtual Tour de France. While Ashleigh Moolman (CCC) won the stage, CANYON//SRAM Racing maintained its lead in the green jersey sprint classification, and regained the outright lead in the youth classification ahead of tomorrow’s final stage.
Harris, who celebrates her 22nd birthday today, admitted the Mont Ventoux climb was tough.
“It was completely brutal. After racing stage two at the start of the month, I was expecting a really fast start, but today was no exception. It was full gas from the beginning. The pace never really eased up. It was five watts per kilogram for an hour which was vicious. I didn’t have the best legs, so I just gave what I could.”
Harris continued, “The squad did the best we could today. I’m sure all of us finished curled over our bikes at the finish. We had Dan Bigham as Sport Director in our race radio and his done a great job to support and motivate us. Now it’s on to the final stage six tomorrow, and hopefully the team can do their best to try to keep our classifications and even get that yellow jersey. I’ll be recovering and eating some birthday cake now, and I’ll be tuning in to watch the final stage tomorrow.”
Harris’ teammates each give their summary of the stage.
Hannah Barnes: “I felt comfortable in the bunch leading up to the climb which was a good sign. I tried to hold on for as long as I could once we hit the climb but when the elastic snapped I just had to focus on not losing too many positions. The hardest moment was when our DS, Dan said ‘ok, it’s 10% average to the finish’ and we still had 7 kilometres to go.”
“Even though just four riders are racing the stage at a time, the whole team has been behind them. We have encouraged each other and been really supportive. When all of our performances are contributing to the overall general classification it also motivates you. Tomorrow, I expect the girls can get a win. I know Tanja will be really motivated after her stage win last weekend.”
Kasia Niewiadoma: “Oh goodness! I felt like my legs were not responding to me at all. I had to beg them. The start was super intense and hard, and then after just a few more kilometres we started to climb, so there was no time to rest even a little bit. The hardest moment for me was before race, because you don’t really feel the difference between 8% or 12% gradient on a virtual climb, all of it is just hard. I still enjoyed the race, and it was nice to hear my teammates voices again. Tomorrow, I believe that my teammates will do their best to deliver the best possible result and fight for the overall victory.”
Omer Shapira: “The race was very hard for me. The hardest moment was when I dropped from the first group, because I really gave it all. It’s always disappointing to feel that what you have to give is not enough.”
“The best part of the tour so far was the stage win of Tanja, and having Dan as our Sport Director. He comes in with a good and clear plan, makes us feel like a team, and encourages us to push ourselves. For the final stage tomorrow, I’m hoping the girls can get a win. Our sprint team is really strong and they’ve done great so far. I believe they will do it also tomorrow. I’ll be cheering for them”