Matrix Fitness-Vulpine rider Jessie Walker has experienced the highs and lows of racing in her eventful start to this year’s Friends Life Women’s Tour.
The 19-year-old Sheffield-based rider sprinted with the likes of world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk to finish 18th on Wednesday’s opening stage, but came in just behind the peloton into Bedford yesterday after being brought down by another rider.
“I finished with a massive smile on my face, I loved it,” Walker said about stage one. “The finish was all over the place, and I’m not really used to bunch sprints, but I just tried to position myself well.
“I was racing with van Dijk coming to the line, and I got her! Also, with 5km to go, I was on Vos’s wheel. I remember wishing I could take a picture to show everybody where I was. It was crazy!
“For me, it’s all about taking those moments in and using them to motivate me in future to make sure thing like that happen again.”
Walker’s team received the sole invite from race organiser SweetSpot that went to a British domestic team.
And they have coped admirably considering their relative lack of riding UCI 2.1-ranked events thus far.
Jo Tindley attempted the first attack of Thursday’s rain-soaked stage out of Hinckley, and Melissa Lowther placed just outside the top 30 at the finish.
Walker unfortunately conceded 1-01 yesterday after an eventful longest leg of the race. She was clipped by another rider 40 kilometres from Bedford, and after a 15-kilometre chase, she made it back to the bunch.
However, she “didn’t have the legs” to stay with the group. “It was fast and I slid for quite some way but no serious injuries,” she tweeted last night. She is expected to start Friday’s stage between Felixstowe and Clacton.