Tereza Vlk Huříková: L'Etape gave me back my passion for the bike
She is the world champion who won two rainbow jerseys. She won the gold medal in the Junior World Championship in time-trial, then she dominated the world in the same category in cross country. Furthermore, she won the title in the European Championship in marathon. Tereza Hurikova was such a versatile cyclist. Cycling was her great passion for decades. Unfortunately, health issues and maternity postponed her cyclist career away for a while. However, L’Etape Czech Republic changed everything.
“I was reconciled to the fact, I won’t experience that feeling, when I really miss cycling” saying thirty six years old native from Vimperk, which she is the ambassador for the greatest domestic road race for hobby cyclist in 2024.
Tereza tell me, how the person who was competing in the Olympics and successfully representing our country, at that time on maternity leave can become the ambassador for L’Etape Czech Republic 2024?
By an absolute accident.
So, it was not about putting together the upcoming partnership for the greatest domestic race for hobby cyclist with the Rouvy platform, where you work, so we could assume that it would be a logical outcome for this partnership?
Absolutely not. At the beginning of summer guys from L’Etape Czech Republic were filming a video for propagation. From their specific agreement, one girl did not work out. They needed different girl, who can ride a bike. I live in Sumava and still active on the bike. Therefore they called me, if I could come on substitute for the video shooting.
So, from this video shooting you become the ambassador?
Exactly. We cycled approximately one-hundred kilometers. We were on the saddle all day and when I came home I was really tired like at the time of my professional days. I have never felt something like that for a long time. Even though, it was my daily routine for years. I did not know anything else just bike. That feeling of being totally tired made me feel enthusiastic. I felt like I was before my thirties.
Can a former junior world time trial and cross country champion, European marathon champion and multiple national champion in various disciplines really feel so much fatigue?
Of course I am. The days of doing 15,000 miles a year are long gone. L'Etape took me back to the days before motherhood. I'm tired of riding without a specific goal. I absolutely need to have a benchmark, which is ingrained in me from when I was riding at the highest level. This year, the cycling highlights for me were the Prague 50, and then another bike race in Stupna. I wanted to have a big challenge for 2024. My motivation is L'Etape Czech Republic.
Were you aware of the L'Etape Czech Republic by Tour de France project before the filming?
Definitely, since Rouvy, where I work, is a partner of the race and includes some passages from the first years of the race. I think it's an event that's primarily about the experience. The mountain stage will be in my region, which is appealing to me. I want to enjoy it.
You are the ambassador of the mountain stage of L'Etape Czech Republic by Tour de France 2024, which will start in Prachatice and go towards Boletice and Blanský les.Is it specifically in your area?
Partially. Prachatice is my district town, but during training I didn't go to the side where L'Etape will take place. I'd be getting to the 200km portion. But I move around Prachatice a lot. However, I know all the sections of the route. For example, during the tour for the filming, I said I knew some sections well, even though I had never been there. I've ridden everything on Rouvy as part of my training.
You became the patron of the project L’Etape Femmes Czech Republic, which their goal is to increase number of women on the starting field and generally attract them to cycling. How do you see connection such as girls and road cycling?
I can confidently say, that I understand this specific issue. I do camps for women over 12 years, where I teach them to race the mountain bike on the level of being confident in terrain. Also, I want them to keep their feminine side. Road cycling is much more easier in this direction, the technique is not that difficult. For women is easier to get into roady cycling. Additionally, it is a “cleaner” form of race on bike. I believe, L’Etape Femmes will attract women in the same way as myself. Mountain and road cycling are complementing each other very well.
Did you race on the road bike during your professional career?
My training was from 70% on the road bike, from 30% on mountain bike. Intervals are always the best on the road. Basic endurance and cadence either. Sometimes, I did some stage race or time-trial, which was a really good for the training. On the mountain bike it is difficult to gain speed well like on the road.
Is the road cycling part of your training calendar?
I spent more time definitely on the horse bike. More than often, I raced with my kids who were in the trolley attached behind. And then when I left the cart at home, I enjoyed the terrain that is my own from cross country. But since the second half of the summer, I've also revived the road bike. We have regular Tuesday rides with Rouvy, where I get the speed into me.
How often do you spend time on the saddle?
I certainly wouldn't talk about any systematic training. I certainly don't count the kilometers. It's more about returning to an active life after having children. I'm currently going out for a bike ride. Sometimes with the kids, sometimes alone. But seeing the challenge of L'Etape, I'm definitely putting more time into training.
Would you dare to do the home - mountain L'Etape Czech Republic without training?
No. My challenge is to prepare myself so that I don't suffer. I believe that the memory of my body and my muscles is good and I will prepare myself to enjoy L'Etape Czech Republic.
Are you planning to take part in the first of the L'Etape Czech Republic events in the form of a hilly stage in mid-June in Prague and the Central Bohemian Region?
Yes. I want to experience the purgatory in the form of a portion of more than a hundred kilometres before the start of the mountain stage.
And what are the ambitions of the former world champion?
I'm judgmental. I don't expect to win. My priority is the kids. But I look forward to a day in the saddle with people who share the same passion for cycling as I do.
Mountain L'Etape Czech Republic by Tour de France 2024 through the eyes of Tereza Vlk Huříková
After the start we go around the Husinec dam, which I know well. Then you will climb through Lažiště to Kratušín and go to Záblatí. This is a very picturesque region.
From Záblatí comes the hardest climb of the whole day to Křišťanov. It is a hill that I have ridden well, because Křišt'anovice pond is the destination of our family trips. I come here with my children as part of my own bike rides. I ride the wheelchair behind the bike for the necessary kilometers, the kids take a bath...
The peloton climbs 420 metres here! I was honestly surprised how many hills there are in the vicinity of Prachatice with a slope of over twelve percent, in some places even seventeen percent. There are not a few similar rises in this passage. It is hard to catch the rhythm, the profile changes a lot. A more pleasant passage through Boletice to Český Krumlov will follow. Then comes the climb towards Klet'. You don't go all the way to the top, but it's a very difficult climb. After all, you have to climb three hundred vertical metres over six kilometres.
Overall, I really like the profile of the stage. From the point of view of a racer who wants to enjoy the day in the saddle, it is nice when the worst climb is right at the beginning and the second most difficult climb is right at the beginning of the second half of the race. The remaining portion of the kilometres is understandably not easy, but the climbs are rather gradual and don't involve the brutally long hills that drain you the most.