It takes a team: enduring the Giro Donne together

‘A team of 6 is stronger than a team of 5’

July 13, 2022

Nothing will test a rider like a ten day stage race.

Totaling 1,000 kilometers and over 11,000 meters of climbing, there is only one way to ride Giro Donne, the longest stage race on the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar — as a team. It’s not enough to celebrate the highs together. It’s imperative that teammates are there to offer support, feedback, and encouragement on the tough days.

For the six EF Education-TIBCO-SVB riders who raced the 2022 Giro Donne, offering that support to one another is second nature.

Krista Doebel-Hickok
We did a really good job of supporting each other on and off the bike and not putting pressure on each other but pushing each other to do our best everyday. It’s that lesson of just not giving up. One bad day doesn’t mean you’re going to have a bag stage race. I had a really bad day on stage 4 and I came around just fine. Just don’t panic, stay calm. Some of our girls did crash and I’m really proud of how they kept their spirits up and just dealt with it very professionally. I know what it’s like to go through a tour with aches and pains. We were there for each other.

Abi Smith
One of the things that kept me going were the little sticker messages that some of my teammates started putting on our bikes. That was really, really nice. One of the days, one of the really bad days, the sticker said, ‘You can do this.’ So I kept thinking I can do this, I can make it to the end. And then I can start tomorrow and hopefully help my team do something tomorrow because not everyone is a climber and not everyone has a good day on the climbs but on the flat stages we can all contribute and all help each other. A team of 6 is stronger than a team of 5. We’ve all finished and we’re in reasonably good shape. The rest of the team is what kept us all going.

Some days one person is going to have a hard day or a crash and you’re not going to feel good. You need them on those days and they need you on other days. Just to have the spirit of being in it together and having such a supportive team. We’ve got people who’ve done the Giro four or five times and a couple of us who’ve never done a stage race of more than five or six days so it’s such a supportive atmosphere. We’re really lucky to be on a team with such supportive teammates.

Kathrin Hammes
The Giro was, as always, super hard but at the end I felt surprised that it was over already. But we had some really hot days that made it really hard for the team. I think we can also say that some riders had not the best time but we fought through it and we were really committed to fight. That’s what we saw each and every day. No one gave up. That’s a good thing. It’s always good to improve during the stage race so it’s really nice that we can all, every single rider, leave here with the feeling of looking forward to the next race. The thing about this team is that it’s always fun. It’s really a nice group and we all support each other.

Letizia Borghesi
We were a strong group and we tried to race aggressively. The biggest lesson was to be calm no matter what because if we felt anxious when things aren’t going well, that can cause mistakes. I think that our team did well because we all ended the Giro feeling stronger than when we started.

Magdeleine Valliers Mill
The Giro was great. I learned a lot. It was a great experience. I feel like I got to experience the whole Giro and all its highs and lows, like everyone told me about. Every stage I was kind of scared I wasn’t going to make it. To stay motivated, I thought of the girls and how I can do something that can be helpful. I tried. Thinking in this way, I just tried to see how far I could go.

Kathrin put the sticker messages on the bikes that first day and after I knew it was going to be a really hard stage and I could feel everyone was a little bit nervous. I just felt like it would be nice. I did a sticker message for everybody, a different thing I thought would help them. I was just happy to see the smiles when I saw them looking at the notes and then I also got notes from a secret teammate and I would look at it during the race. It gave me motivation. It said, ‘You're in the green! You can rip it!’ I was suffering and I was like ok I’m in the green, I can rip it. I can do this. It’s really personalized because I really like my WHOOP and it said I was in the green with my recovery so it was perfect.

Sara Poidevin
At one point we were talking about how hard one of the stages was and I jokingly said something like, ‘It’s not a stage race if you don’t question all your life decisions in the middle of it.’ I think it’s true. In 10 days you’ll question what you’re doing. Mostly I felt really inspired by all my teammates around me who had some really amazing performances. I really wanted to give my best on the day. It doesn’t always work out but seeing everyone really pushing their limits encourages you to do the same and find a way to make all the pieces come together one day.

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