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Julie Leth Blog: Back riding in circles

When I was younger, I used to ride the track a lot, but the past few years, my main focus has been on the road. However, with the Madison being named a new Olympic event, I thought it was time, to get back into it. I started slowly last winter, with some 6-days and smaller World Cups, trying to gain points for Denmark to qualify for the World Championships. At this point I was still unaware if there would be a Danish women’s Madison project heading into Tokyo, but I was hoping. One thing was for sure; riding the track, felt like coming home for me.

Luckily the funding came, and the Madison has now become one of my major goals. Riding a long side Amalie Dideriksen and Trine Schmidt, I hope the three of us, will learn from and push each other to become better the next two years.

Going into the European Championships, I was selected to race the Madison with Amalie. One of the main reasons for me to race, was that I needed to get points to be able to compete in the World Cup series during the winter. It would be mine and Amalie’s first Madison together – besides a small one back in 2012, against the boys in Denmark. Also, it was my first international track championships, since 2014, and the first race in the Olympic qualification. With the Madison being on the last competition day, I had lots of time to sit around the hotel, getting nervous. I was not sure what to expect. We were heading into a strong field, and had no idea, where we would be at, as a pair. But I guess the only thing we could do, was give it our best.

We came off to a bit of a rocky start. Finding ourselves riding a bit too far back in the bunch, and not competing in the sprints. Eventually we started finding our way to the front, and started gaining points. Suddenly we found ourselves in a medal position. As the French accelerated after a sprint, the Russians followed, and so did I. We did not think gaining a lap would be an option, but I figured, we may be able to pick up some valuable points. I must be honest and say, I thought we were on a suicide mission, but I heard Amalie screaming at me to go, so I did. With about 38 laps to go, we caught the field together with the Russians. Having won two sprints while gaining the lap, we were suddenly leading the race, but it wasn’t over yet. We needed to still pick up a few point here and there, and to make sure, other teams did not gain a lap too. Having a 12 point lead the last 10 laps, we knew we just had to stay upright, and not lose a lap. It was not until then I realised it; we were going to win. I almost could not believe it. I thought we could medal on a good day, but I do not think I even dared dreaming about winning yet. What’s best about it, is we did a far from flawless ride, so there’s lots of room for improvement. 

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