'The ride that will never exist' - Matilda Raynolds' computer-free attack at the Women's Tour Down Under

The 36-year-old 'dreamed' of doing something special at only her second Women's WorldTour race, but was caught by the peloton

Matilda Raynolds
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many of us, as cyclists in 2024, rely on our bike computers for a lot while we're out riding: navigation, time, training aids, even as an aide-mémoire to eat or drink. A world without one is a frightening one, so we can only empathise with the pain that Matilda Raynolds went through on stage one of the Women's Tour Down Under, when the BridgeLane rider was deprived of her Wahoo.

This wasn't any other day, either, it was the 36-year-old's second race at WorldTour level, and also a day that she made it into the break, and was then also the last woman standing up the road. There was even a time when she thought the win might - might - be possible. So for this to be the day without a mount for her Wahoo was not the one; it might have been in her back pocket, but that's hardly useful when racing out of your skin.

"It started a little bit challenging when about 3km in my I had a mechanical and had to swap bikes," Raynolds said post-stage. "I was on a bike that was a little bit too small for me and so my hamstrings were screaming... I felt really good out there despite probably looking like a clown on my little bike."

"I was without data all day," Raynolds explained on her issue. "I was asking Pat Shaw [the team's manager], can you let me know to have a gel every 20 minutes. The QOMs are really difficult to know, with the profile. Pat was stitching me up, because when I was off the front he was saying that this was the last little rise, go go go, and so I'd go all out, and then there's be another rise. 

"I'm sure I'll dream about the power that I must have had, but I'll never see it. It's in oblivion. It's the ride that will never exist. I had my Wahoo on me, but no head unit, so I didn't know what was going on."

Raynolds won most aggressive rider on the opening stage, but sadly she won't be particularly remembered in the race's annals - with Ally Wollaston winning - but it was still an impressive, gutsy ride, especially given the circumstances. No computer, and 40 degree heat.

"It was just a great opportunity," she said. "You've  got to pinch yourself every now and again to think that you're at the front of the WorldTour race. Obviously it was going to be a big ask to try to stay out there, the whole time was like racing in a furnace."

“I wasn’t planned to go off the front, but I was there and you know, it’s an age-old playbook. You attack after the first prime, and I got a gap straightaway and they sat up and I was on my way." she said. “When they don’t chase you down it’s a bit of an insult so I was gonna make them work for it all day.”

Raynolds was joined by Katia Ragusa (Human Powered Health) and India Grangier (Coop-Repsol) in the break, and then, later Kate Richardson (LifePlus Wahoo). Despite not having the punch to claim QOM points, which was her goal, she still wanted to get something out of the day, so attacked once more, and was the last survivor.

"You dream, you dream," she replied when asked if she thought there was a moment she was in the mix for victory. "There's the smallest moment that's like, if you go, this will change your life, but you can only do what you can do."

It might not have been enough, but it was a special ride from Raynolds. It won't be the end of BridgeLane, either, with the 36-year-old saying that they will "keeping showing our colours". If it's anything like Friday's ride, then it will be an entertaining race from the Australian Continental team.

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