We have our last race of the season at the three-day Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta from 6 to 8 November in Spain. Ella Harris will return to racing after breaking her femur in a training crash before Strade Bianche at the start of August. The New Zealander will be joined by Alice Barnes, Rotem Gafinovitz, Hannah Ludwig, Christa Riffel and Alexis Ryan.
“I’m very excited for my first race since the injury, it’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to be back with the team again. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and a little unsure of what to expect, but I’m just hoping for a positive experience where I can ease my way back into the racing,” said Ella.
Winner of the 2018 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy, Ella said the return to racing before her off season would feel like the final step in her rehabilitation.
“It’s very important for my own sake to race again. It has been three months since the crash and quite a long grind both mentally and physically to get back to a reasonable level of fitness and strength. I see this race as almost the end of what has been a rather tough chapter. I’ve put in a lot of effort on and off the bike for recovery. To race before I head home for summer seems like a satisfying way to round out the year and head into an off-season. Although I haven’t been racing this whole time, I actually feel as if I am very in need of some time off the bike and a spot of R&R, as the build-up I’ve had to reach this point where I am actually able to race again has been really challenging and taxing,” admitted Ella.
The three-day stage race is the finale of the Women’s WorldTour for 2020, and has a hilly 82km opening stage, a 9.3km individual time trial stage two, and a 100km circuit race to finish. Ella will go in with low-key expectations.
“My goals are extremely realistic. In training, I have been in more of a rebuilding phase and riding similarly to how I would if it were the very start of the season – limited short/high-intensity efforts and more a case of strength training and threshold work. I know that I have the fitness for racing, although it will still be a shock to the system given that I have no speed in the legs, so I aim to feel comfortable again in a race situation and hope to integrate back into the bunch smoothly. It’s just important for me that I can experience racing again to gain confidence and confirmation that I’m on the right track before I head home to keep re-building over the summer.”
While the individual time trial stage will be a focus for teammates U23 European Champion Hannah Ludwig, and British ITT champion Alice Barnes, Ella reveals she also has spent more time training this discipline.
“I have been training a couple of times a week on my Speedmax TT bike, and I am actually feeling really good on this and far more comfortable than I was prior to my last TT, Nationals, at the start of this year. I’ve been surprised at the numbers I could produce in the TT position in my most recent training and although my form certainly isn’t competitive, I’m looking forward to doing the time trial as I am feeling reasonably prepared. I think the opportunity to ride individually will actually be quite relaxing and nice for me, in comparison to the two road stages where I might be a bit more on edge.”
The racing action starts at 11:00CET each day and can be followed on Twitter with #UCIWWT and #CertizitChallenge20. The stages will be broadcast live or with daily highlights on RTVE, Eurosport, ESPN, Supersport, ZhiboTV, FloBikes, DKTV2, GCN, JSports, TV2, Olympic Channel, RTVC Señal, SBS and SkySport.