Audrey Cordon-Ragot (FRA) tries an early attack during Stage 8 of 2019 Giro Rosa Iccrea, a 133.3 km road race from Vittorio Veneto to Maniago, Italy on July 12, 2019. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com

Grupetto’s life.

It’s been some days now since the last day of the Giro Rosa and I felt like writing about my 2019 experience. It was my 6th start this year and the funny thing is that I took 6 times the start as Elisa’s (L-B) mate, the first time was in 2014 with HITEC PRODUCTS. 

Obviously I never targeted the Giro’s GC, everybody knows my abilities in terms of climbing long mountains and I always loved helping my leaders and chasing some stages.

Trek Segafredo sign on for Stage 10 of 2019 Giro Rosa Iccrea, a 120 km road race from San Vito al Tagliamento to Udine, Italy on July 14, 2019. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com

This year wasn’t supposed to be different, my schedule was always the same, I took a break in May preparing for the second part of the season : Bira, Nationals and Giro!

All lights were green coming into the biggest stages race of the year. I felt good the week before at nationals, I had my Emonda bike perfectly in hands, it was my first World Tour race with this pure climbing beast as I was riding the Madone since the first day of the season.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot (FRA) during Stage 7 of 2019 Giro Rosa Iccrea, a 128.3 km road race from Cornedo Vicentino to San Giorgio di Perlena, Italy on July 11, 2019. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com

Giro’s atmosphere is pretty special, everyone looks so sharp and focused, the staff is doubled for most of the teams. Soignies are chasing ice like people chase gold and mechanics have to juggle with 100 different gears. The Giro is hot, long, brutal and this 2019 edition has kept her promises.

Without any pretentions, I’m normally an “average” rider, never with the top riders, never the fastest sprinter just a good mate able to bridge on a dangerous break or to position my leader before the key point. I never really experienced what happened this year…

It started day 5, dropped from the start, unable to breath, to push and even to follow the grupetto, day 1 of my calvary.

Every day I started to count the time cuts to make sure I could take the start the day after. In the past, I was many times on the “1st” grupetto but never front of the ambulance trying to organize which looked like a “big casino”, avoiding the traffic and keeping some riders away of the back of their team cars, just to make sure I wouldn’t end up alone in the Italian countryside!

Audrey Cordon-Ragot (FRA) climbs during Stage 8 of 2019 Giro Rosa Iccrea, a 133.3 km road race from Vittorio Veneto to Maniago, Italy on July 12, 2019. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com

Day after day my goal was to make sure to end up in a group able to bring me to the finish, and my only “rays of sun” were when I could ride with some of my teammates, feeling surrounded by familiar faces…

Surroundings, it has been the key of my “keep going” spirit. Giro is not only a cycling strain, it’s also a human experience. Living with more than 15 people for 2 weeks 24/7, no need to explain that if there is no management and consensus it’s a chaos!

I felt understood, supported and “loved” from my staff and mates, and I can only thank them to give me the strength to cross the line every day.

Being a professional rider doesn’t mean knowing everything about cycling, because you never stop learning about yourself, the others, life.

I’ll stop learning the day I die.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot.

Topping up with drinks during Stage 9 of 2019 Giro Rosa Iccrea, a 125.5 km road race from Gemona to Chiusaforte, Italy on July 13, 2019. Photo by Sean Robinson/velofocus.com


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