In two days’ time Mikayla Harvey forms part of the Team Illuminate squad for the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race; in California.  The three-day event will take in 301.5km of racing including a mountain stage on day 2.  Harvey arrives off the back of a big performance with her teammates at the Panorama Guizhou International Women’s Race; and afterwards we caught up with her.

The Panorama Guizhou International Women’s Race is a five-day event, taking in over 600km of racing in China.  Heading into the event Team Illuminate – comprised of Mikayla Harvey, Grace Anderson, Lexie illard, Shoko Kashiki and Rebecca Beaumont – were up against an uncertain time as they built towards California this week.

“Going into the Panorama Guizhou International Women’s Race, I didn’t really know what I was in for. There was little information about the race, all I knew is that I had five days of racing ahead of me,” Harvey told RoadCycling.  “My past block of training has been focused towards Tour of California, and this race was being used as the last bit of preparation. My form has been really good, and I was excited to test my legs alongside my teammates against some strong competition.”

“Our team for this tour was diverse, and even though we haven’t raced much together as a team we were able to quickly gel together. The culture of our team is all about creating new learning experiences and having fun racing our bikes. This makes it easy to come together as a team and each race we work better as a unit. All of us riders didn’t mind trying new tactics and racing hard at the front – we all love some good hard racing!”

There were plenty of opportunities to influence the race, and after bedding into the feel of the race in stage 1 and getting used to the jostling within the bunch and the type of riders present, stage 2 was the first opportunity for Mikayla and the team to really light up the race.

“For the second stage we were racing the same course [as stage 1] and we were able to race a lot better as a team,” Harvey said.  “Grace is one of our strongest climbers, so we decided to try and get her some QOM points. I became involved with getting Grace up into a good position for the climb, helping her score some points on the stage.” 

After notching up the QOM points for Anderson, attention turned to the finishing sprint, and a frightening final kilometre or two for Harvey.  “I am the strongest sprinter on the team, so the girls helped lead me out into the finish. We did a pretty good job, but it was probably one of the scariest finishes I have done. It was a massive downhill leading into a right-hand turn, then 200m uphill to the finish,” Harvey explained.  “I had a better finish that day but still had a lot to work on with the finish. After this stage I was confident with my climbing. I was never pushing myself into the red zone, so I knew I had heaps left in the legs for the last few days of racing.”

After two stages of quieter racing, Harvey took her opportunity to make her mark on the final day of racing around Yilong.  It turned out to be a very busy day in the saddle.  “The last stage was where some fireworks happened for me. I hadn’t made much of an impact in the race yet, and I was determined to leave my mark on the race. At around 35km it started to get a little rolling. I thought this was perfect timing to get in a break. I followed an attack up the outside and bridged to a break of several other riders. However, no one else was really doing too much and my pulls were by far the strongest,” Harvey said. 

“We were just about to get caught at the bottom of the first QOM. So, I decided to attack the break and solo off the front up the climb. I manage to get a decent break and win my first QOM points. The next QOM wasn’t for another 15km, but I got into time trial mode (my happy place) and kept going. At one stage I managed to get a gap of 45secs and scored another win on the QOM.”

The straight roads weren’t conducive to a successful breakaway, however, and eventually Harvey found herself back in the bunch.  But any thoughts that the day was done were quickly put to bed as the team then launched Harvey to the finishing sprint.  “This turned into a bittersweet moment. Grace did an epic lead-out at 500m to go. I launched my sprint a tad to early as I literally got passed meter from the finish to get fourth on the stage,” Harvey said.

The result meant that Harvey finished the race in 9th place overall.  A solid result that sets her up nicely for California.  Currently Mikayla and the team are in San Francisco preparing, and don’t be surprised to see Team Illuminate having a big influence on the race, taking on some of the cycling world’s big guns.  If China is anything to go by, Team Illuminate could well be one of the highlights of the race.  “All in all our team worked so well as a unit even though we have only just started riding as a team. Each race we got even stronger!”


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