Alison Jackson Reports on Racing the European Spring Classics
Alison Jackson won the QOM competition at the UCI Women's World Tour race, Ronde van Drenthe. She followed that up with a top 20 finish at Gent-Wevelgem and a victory at a local kermese: Oudenaarde. Hear what Alison had to say about racing the Spring Classics with Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank:
"All the Classics in Spring Classic Racing"
by Alison Jackson
This spring, my TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank teammies and I got to experience all the classic pieces of the European Spring Classic races. Every race had rain: most of it cold and heavy, but sometimes we were lucky and only had spotty showers. There was wind: wind that made riders fight hard for position or try to hang on at the edge of the gutter. There were dirt roads, tight turns, bike paths, prairie roads and rattle-your-teeth cobbles that all became more difficult in the wind and rain - and I loved every minute of it!
The racing is hard because it is a series of one-day races with the best of the best. Every race is full-tilt to the end, which adds heaps of meaning to be able to make it to the end. At this level, all of the little details, including our choices of equipment, make a big deal.
The team moved onto disc brakes this year, which makes all the difference in our ability to control stopping power in the rain. I ride the new Supreme (#speedqueen) from Fuji Bikes because it is made to slice through the wind and has a super stiff BB to convert every watt from my legs into speed on the ground. Also, the new Fuji Supreme is meant for disc brakes and has plenty of clearance for a 28mm tire and whatever spring mud flings up from the road.
For the spring cobbles, I ride a pair of Edco Umbrial (45mm) DB wheels, in all levels of wind, with Maxxis Velocita 28mm tires that have a bit more rubber to limit the chance for punctures on the cobbles when riding with a lower psi.
One of my favourite sayings is that, "We aren't training for easy; we are training for hard." This was my 3rd season getting to race at the Women's World Tour level, experience that helped me improve on my results and success. I was able to help my teammies understand what to expect during the races. We had to do a lot of problem-solving on the road this year, but I was especially happy to improve on my previous Spring Classics campaigns with a 17th place in Gent-Wevelgem and with winning the QOM jersey at Drenthe.
Now, I am spending some extra time in the Wallonia area of Belgium to prepare for La Flèche Wallonne Féminine and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the two Ardennes Classics that the team will do this season. I rode these two races for the first time last year and am looking forward to showing up a little stronger and smarter to the start line this year.