Road Cycling Skills

Tips for Bike Racing in Bad Weather from Chloe Hosking’s Gent-Wevelgem

Or 'how not to get blown off your bike and give up', by an expert

Podium selfie from chloe_hosking_ on Instagram

It’s happening again – we’re developing another platonic crush on a pro rider – this time it’s Chloe Hosking of Wiggle Honda.

Chloe is an Olympic, Commonwealth and World Champion Australian Cyclist, and this season she’s already taken second in the Tour of Qatar and on Sunday she was the third rider home at the Gent-Wevelgem Spring Classic.

Not only that, she’s also an awesome writer and keeps a blog, where we found this gem, ‘My Gent-Wevelgem’.

The Belgium race was a washout this year, with winds up to 25mph, and Poly Peloton even drew it thus:


Without further ado, here are 5 great hints and tips Chloe gives about racing in, frankly, appalling weather:

1) Value your body fat

Ok, so if you’re one of the skinny ladies who we see motoring ahead of us on the hills, then you can ignore this one (and counter the extra benefit next time there’s an uphill gradient), but Chloe points out that being more of a ‘rouleur/sprinter shape’ is beneficial in miserable conditions.

She writes: “My Dad always told me growing up that I had an advantage when it was cold and wet because ‘I had more fat on me and would stay warmer than all the skinny girls.’”

So, embrace your extra few percentages of body fat when the weather isn’t playing game. And if you’re a lighter rider? Better wrap up warm!

2) Remember some riders aren’t going to make as much effort

As well as having champion advice from Daddy Hosking, Chloe also passes on wise words from Mr ‘Shut Up Legs’, Jens Voigt.

She reports: “Jens Voigt once said to Matthew Hayman in an elevator, ‘This weather is so sh*t, I love it, half the peloton has already quit!’ The Jensie wasn’t wrong either. As soon as we rolled away for our 116km race the peloton seemed tiny.”

When the weather isn’t going your way, remember, it’s not going the way of ANYBODY, you’re all handicapped – so remain strong and you’ll suffer less of the adverse effects whilst everyone else gives up along the way.

3) Use adversity to your advantage

No one enjoys headwinds, or crosswinds, but you can capitalise on them if you know when the wind is going to do its worst – so study the course and prepare to attack just when you know it’s hardest for weaker riders to hold a wheel.

Hosking explains: “The first really important part the race came only 8km into the 116km race, when we would make a sharp right hand corner directly into a roaring crosswind.”

Sure enough, as the corner approached, Hosking reports how the Liv-Plantur riders attacked, but she puts a solid effort in to join them, with team mate Jolien.

4) Stay closer to the front, away from danger

Crashes happen in bicycle racing – and in gusty winds, they are more frequent. Chloe knows this, and when the winds started blowing down narrow country lanes, she put herself ahead of the bunch to stay out of harms way, saying:

“Sitting about 15 riders back I watch as gusts of wind grabbed girls and their bikes and slung them dangerously close to the edge of the road. I’m not sure I’ve ever raced in conditions like that but I knew 15 riders back was not where I wanted to be. Grabbing my bars in the drops and lowering my body I powered to the front of the peloton, picking Jolien up with me.”

5) Learn, grow, gain confidence

Chloe begins her blog by saying bad memories of her first Gent-Wevelgem had convivned her she wouldn’t perform well, stating: “Like when you use negative reinforcement to teach your dog not the pee on the grass I didn’t have the best memories from racing Gent-Wevelgem and so I was convinced that I would suck.”

It turns out, she did not ‘suck’, taking third after a hard fought battle, and though she’s disappointed not to have taken a team win, she states: “If anything, we [the team] can take a lot of confidence from the race leading into The Tour of Flanders, or Ronde van Vlaanderen, this coming Sunday.”

There’s two lessons here – firstly, you should never let past races tinge your experience or preparation for the coming event. Secondly, when a race is tough, it’s only making you tougher, stronger, and more prepared for the future – so go smash it!

 Want more advice? Check out our 5 tips from Chloe Hosking on riding into a crosswind.

Tempted to race, but not sure where to start? Here’s everything you need to know…

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