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Emily Collins swaps US podium for Euro podium
Aug 29th, 12. With the US season over, Kiwi International Emily Collins had a choice, head home or join the action in Europe. With a Best Young Rider title in her 1st outing, she is happy she chose the latter.
Collins, who raced for Vanderkitten-Focus in the US, has just finished racing the UCI2.2 Lotto Decca Tour in Belgium.
After three days of intense racing the Kiwi placed 5th on the General Classification and claimed the Best Young Rider jersey.
"I'm really chuffed with this result and hope for some more good ones to come!" she told RoadCycling.co.nz last night.
Collins was low on confidence early in the season due to a late start and a not so great summer affected by sickness, but after some good results in the US she felt in great form and did not want her season to end.
"I am very glad I made the decision to get over here! I really love the racing style here and think it suits me pretty well, so I've really enjoyed the racing this weekend.
"I forgot how these Euro girls race - no mucking about that's for sure!! It is so crazy, but that makes it that much more thrilling and exciting!
With nothing to lose, Collins raced aggressively throughout as she took on the pros of the European peloton.
"It was awesome being out there against the big teams and feeling good!" she said.
The 21 year old described the first two stages of the tour as "pancake flat" and therefore "super fast, aggressive and crazy". Both ended with a field sprint where Collins, racing as a guest rider for Dutch club team Boretti Cycling team, placed 13th and 6th.
"The final stage was definitely the decider as the time gaps were so close and the stage had some nasty wee climbs in it - including two times up the Muur - it was a lot of fun!" she shared. "The cobbles made it pretty interesting."
"The stage started with an early breakaway with the tour leader (Kirsten Wild - AA Drink-Leontien.nl) still in the peloton so I tucked in as knew there was a fair bit of climbing coming up and we would likely catch them with her team chasing.
"158 riders started the tour and by the time we got to the third stage it was already a lot less! This stage really shredded the field and by the time we hit the 'walls', riders were dropping off like flies.
"The AA drink team did a great job of bringing it back and by the time we caught the break it was only one 19km lap to go and only around 20 riders left to take it to the finish!
"I've been feeling great and at this point I still had some legs so when we caught the break I went for it with several attacks as Lululemon and Rabobank were really going for it to get away from Wild - who at this point had no team mates left after all their efforts!
"This made it really interesting and attacks were flying from all directions. Unfortunately, after going with several moves which were brought back, the winning break went and I hesitated too long and too late to go with it.
Ellen Van Dijk of Specialized-Lululemon won the final stage from the break and took the tour title. Collins was focused on the Best Young Rider title, but still wishes she had gone with the final break hunting stage success. In the field bunch sprint behind the breakaway trio, which she won, she realised she still had great sensations and a little energy left.
"I was stoked to win the bunch kick for 4th which won me the Young Rider title and 5th place on General Classification. I am thrilled with how it went and am now hungry for more!"
Collins is not sure of her schedule for the rest of the season but she definitely hopes to represent New Zealand and contest the World Championships in Limburg, Netherlands next month.
"I'm staying in Limburg actually with Matthew Hayman and his wife Kym Shirley - they are really nice people and it's right by the course so I have managed to check it a few times - it should be an awesome race!"
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