Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Roy, Roy, Roy!
My Season by Sarah Roy.
I’m sitting on a train somewhere between the French Alps and Switzerland on my way home to Italy after a short break, eating one of my all-time favourites; an almond croissant as I reflect on the past 2 weeks of racing. Part of me struggles to comprehend that the Giro is over.
The Giro is the biggest race of our season and something we look forward to every year with ambitious team goals. It’s known as our only “Grand Tour” so there is always a big build-up. It is 10 days in Italy averaging around 120km per day with no rest days and includes some world famous mountain top finishes. We won it! It was awesome.
The fact it is now behind us signifies that the season’s end is nearing. Already!
The professional European season and World Tour begins in March and finishes with the world
championships in late September. Generally speaking; the first few months of the season involves
races known as “the cobbled classics” and “the Ardennes”. There’s a bit of a lull in May and from
June onwards the tour season starts and there’s a variety of one-day races throughout the year as
well. My abilities are suited to the cobbled classics and certain one-day races or stages within tours
but mostly I am a “domestique” - I work my butt off for my team mates. And I love it.
Every victory is a team victory.
One of my big season goals was to target the Commonwealth Games which were in April. So, after a
strong classics season supporting our Belgian sprinter who is the best in the business, I flew to
Australia for the Gold Coast Games. To be selected was an absolute dream come true. We had a
team of 6, mostly from different pro teams and raced together for the first time as this unit on the
day. Preparing for a one day race at a Games was very different to anything else I’d been a part of.
We had a very clear race plan that we executed almost perfectly and led to Chloe Hosking’s win,
which was the aim. Personally, I was in great form and had a strong ride in support of Chloe. Chloe
was a very humble winner and had our names engraved on her medal. The whole experience was
one of the best of my life. It was a rare opportunity for my family, friends and coach to watch me
race in the flesh and they made the most of it with huge handmade banners and “Go Roy” t-shirts.
The fam was even interviewed on live TV which was clearly the high-light of their year. It was most
special for me to have my coach Nat at the race who has joined me in this ride for so many years
now. Like for most athletes, the journey is full of ups and downs and being in different countries a
majority of the time Nat mostly hears of the downs so to share a big up with her, a career highlight
that she made possible with so much joy was the best and I’ll never forget it.
I quickly went from a successful high in Australia to a bit of a downer in China. In early May, it was
the 4 day Tour of Chongming Island which is pancake flat every day. A sprinters paradise. 300m from
the line in one of the high speed sprint finishes, we crashed. We were extremely lucky to walk out of
that and try again the next day. Unfortunately, we didn’t win a stage and I left China having felt
Our traditional May team camp was a turning point. All 10 riders and staff enjoyed a relaxing but
effective camp by the beach in Valencia. It’s always good to get the whole team together for some
hard work, laughs and to reiterate personal and team goals. As a group, we talked about what we’ve
done well so far and what we could do better. We re-hashed our team values and what it means to
have confidence. On the road we practiced our sprint train lead-outs until they were perfect, trialled
our new time trial positions thanks to some aerodynamic work with the SCOTT team a week earlier
among other skills and drills. I always love this time with the team because everyone involved is in
work-holiday mode. The mode where you’re motivated for greatness with a great energy but
relaxed and fun to be around. I’m usually crying from laughter every day on these camps.
Since camp, the results have snowballed.
Half the team won a world tour event in Spain straight after camp and a week later Gracie and I
went 1-2 at a UCI race in Gooik, Belgium. The following weekend, I finished 2 nd in a UCI race in
Belgium at Ijssedelta.
We won the first stage of The Women’s Tour of Britain, a world tour event in June, after an amazing
lead out for Jolien in the sprint. After a big team effort, I won stage 3 of 5 in a reduced bunch sprint.
Then July was here and it was Giro time! We surprised ourselves with 2 nd place in stage 1; the teams
time trial by just 1 second! Jolien won 2 of the sprint stages. Annemiek (known as Vleuty) won 2 of
the mountain stages, the points jersey AND the overall and Amanda (known as Spratty) won 1 of the
mountain stages, the mountains jersey and finished 3 rd overall. It was literally the perfect tour for us,
an absolute dream. Every stage was a mammoth team effort. We all destroyed ourselves for the
team goal, even the staff. The entire campaign was unbelievable. I’m emotional just writing about it.
We didn’t stop there though.
We had one rest day and drove 10 hours to France for La Course. The one day race that the Tour de
France puts on for the pro women. Vleuty won that too! It was an incredible bike race to see. I hope
you watch it if you haven’t already. My contribution to this race was making sure Vleuty and Spratty
were fresh and in good position for the first mountain climb at 75km into the race, from that point
they were on their own. I grovelled to the finish. Thank goodness for those crowded mountain
passes, it was a nice experience and I made it to the end just in time to jump up and down and
celebrate with Vleuty as she took to the podium.
Never have I ever been so tired and thrilled at the same time.
I needed that 3 day break and almond croissant but I am also getting excited for the last part of the
season to start. I am so inspired by what my team mates and I have accomplished both together and
individually that my motivation and discipline is right where I want it.
There is a lot more to come and with this momentum we can continue to be ambitious. How