What's Cool In Road Cycling

Elena Cecchini and Jessie Daams are ready for the European Games in Baku

At the moment the first European Games are taking place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, at the Caspian Sea. Next Saturday the women’s road race is scheduled. Lotto Soudal Ladies Elena Cecchini and Jessie Daams will take part with the Italian and Belgian national team respectively. Both proved last week in Durango and the Emakumeen Bira stage race that they are in a good shape.

Jessie Daams: “It went smoothly in the Basque Country last week, especially in Durango where I was sixth. That was good for my confidence. I had the perfect preparation for Baku. Before Durango I already raced three days in Germany, which I considered as a training for Spain. That way I had nine race days in ten days. That was perfect in the run-up to the European Games. Now I only have to do the recon and take sufficient rest.”

“I want to finish Saturday’s race with a good feeling. Before I set a certain goal I have to see the course first. On paper it looks pretty selective. It goes uphill for three kilometres on the circuit, that’s already quite a distance when you have to cover nine laps. Not all countries participate. The Netherlands have a strong team, but Germany and Sweden won’t stand at the start. I think the European Games are an important event, also for the publicity for women’s cycling. On top of that you have to show yourself a few times if you want to get in the Olympic selection for next year and this would be a good opportunity.”

Elena Cecchini: “I had a training camp in Livigno for 20 days in May, that’s quite long. You need some time to adjust when you come back from that altitude. I returned to competition in the Boels Rental Hills Classic on 29th May, two days later I rode Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik. Last week I took part in Durango and Bira. The Bira stage race was very useful to get back in the race rhythm in a short time. It’s a hard race, but it’s good to improve my climbing skills. I was happy with my third place in Durango and second place in the third stage of Bira. A victory would have been better of course, but Chantal Blaak is faster than me and uphill I couldn’t get rid of her. I’m happy with my performances of last week. Bira was perfect as final preparation for the European Games, that’s why I tried to be active.”

“I’m ready for Saturday. The circuit suits me well. It goes up and down all the time and the race will be very nervous. At some parts the road gets really narrow, like on the cobbled climb. Positioning will be very important. There is a lot of wind at the moment. We’ll have to keep an eye on the Netherlands. They have a very strong team. We can maybe work with them to make a selection. A race with a small peloton, about 70 riders in this case, is always different. It influences the way of racing. In the end you have to be lucky as well. Hopefully Valentina Scandolara or I get in the right breakaway. We’ll do our best. This race is really important, because you can win a title and also with the Olympic Games of Rio 2016 in mind. When you win a medal in Baku, it will be a souvenir for the rest of your life.”

The race starts at 12 o’clock, that is 9.00 am CEST.

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