9 October 2007

Worlds Women's Road Race

With all the Time-trails out of the way, it was time to get organised for the road races. We had an early start for the race, at 9am, which is a real shame, cause that means a real early start for the mechanics. We swap each year with the U23 for a early or late start, this year it was the Women’s race that gets the early start, yeha. But at least we had no U23 riders this year, so it won’t be as long a day. We had the mechanic for Unibet helping out with his riders bikes, so he had looked after Gustav Larsen for his TT, the day before. Unibet were sponsoring the team for the week, so we had the camper and bus from the Unibet team as well, sweet in case of bad weather.

Our setup for the day, my truck looks so small.

We had three Swedish riding with Susanne from our team, Emma, who also rode the TT with Susanne, and a new girl from Menikini, Sara. We also had a few other girls from the usual team racing, Mirjam for Netherlands, Amber for USA, Luise for Germany and Trine for Denmark. The Kiwi’s were fielding the biggest team I have heard of for a while, with five in the team, Joanne Kiesanowski, Tony Bradshaw, Rosera back from her 5th place in the MTB worlds, Carissa Wilks and Michele Hyland to round it off. They were looking good. I had managed to get all the tt bikes and equipment back from all the team on TT day, and had passed over all the race bikes and wheels for those who were racing. I had a couple of weeks to sort these out, as we missed heading to Tour Toscana, which gave me plenty of time on the bikes and wheels. Every girl had their race bikes looking and running sweet, new tyres, new bearings and cables where needed. Most had spare bike, and a set or two of spare wheels as well. This was a nightmare to keep control of, so my new system should keep it under control (called writing it down), with every bike and wheel etc recorded, to minimise losses. But everything was delivered to the rightful countries, and was in the hand of their mechanics, I rested easy, half my job was done. All that was left was to race, then spend some frantic hours collecting it all back again.

Three for Sweden, a small team from them for a change, Klas had already spent a month on Susanne’s three bikes, so I only had two bikes to deal with for the night. The car was ready, I had installed the teams radio, and a TV for the week as well, (this we would never get working, all week), it was clean, and ready to roll. I started on the girls bikes, watching Klas freaking out over the impending race. Susanne was looking great in the weeks leading up to this, it was a perfect course, a tough race, something for her for sure. But as always, I was not counting too far ahead, just making sure the bike would finish the race was all that was on my mind. Race after race, it doesn’t get any easier, the bike still gets a full going over, even more so now, with such an important race. Both Emma and Sara’s bikes were pretty sweet, I changed a chain or two, and went over each bike about twenty times before I put it down. They were perfect, as usual, at least the bikes were going to make it, now it’s up to the girls to do the rest. Klas had taken Susanne’s race bike to the room, he would sleep better knowing it was safe, in the room with us.

Hey it's Amber, who she riding for again?

We were a bit worried, with the weather as we sat down at the end of the night for our debriefing (vodka on ice, thanks), it was closing in for the night. Rain had been predicted for the last three days, and we had heard it during the night, but not seen it in the day, I was hoping for the same. The course has so many fast descents, it would be really dangerous round some of the corners in the wet. Crashes are not the sort of thing I like to think of going into a race, but all the same, it would not feel the same without it overhead. It’s all part of the equation, but to get the right answer, that’s another idea.

Waking up to clear skies, (once the sun came up), was a great relief, as I guzzled down a quick breakfast. Driving through the city of Stuttgart again, it was eerily quiet for a change, but still there was enough traffic, probably still trying to get home from the night before. I parked up the truck and got organised, we were sharing a car with South Africa, they had two riders, and no spare bikes to carry. All the same, will be a bit of a push on the back seat, with four of us in the car. The cloud had lifted and the sun was showing it’s full strength, nice, as I was soaking up the morning rays. The road would take a lap or two to dry out, then the real racing should have got going by then. I waited for the others, as they were having a later start, and arriving with the girls an hour or so before the start. The bad new was, Susanne woke up in the middle of the night with a bad Migraine, and was vomiting right up till the morning. Her race was over, before she even started, but would start anyway. We were not expecting much, as emptying her tank all night was not such a great idea, especially for such a tough race.

From left, Sara, Emma and Susanne.

The race was finally underway, at the ungodly hour of 9am, but it was not raining, and no wind present, so we couldn’t ask for much more. 7 laps, and 133km to go. The roads looked deadly slippery as we made our way around the first lap, and as you would guess, there was crashes around every corner. We had car number 10, so saw nothing of the carnage, but could see the aftermath every few corners. All our team was safe, and some of the speed of the girls descending some of the hills was just a little bit too slow for the race. It was fast, we saw an unfortunate crash with Tony Bradshaw NZL in the first lap, problems with her rear mech, and she was not to join the pack again. Lap two saw a few more girls down, Rosara NZL dropped her chain for the second time, this time she didn’t make it back and her race was done. Susanne decided she was not going too well, and she pulled out at the next time she went past the pits. Sweden had two left, but soon after I thought that we saw Sara SWE, dropping out of the bunch, and here was about the time we saw Trine DMK getting dropped as well.

Susanne is looking great, shame it didn't stay like that.

The course was taking it’s toll on the girls, with no real places for recovery they were starting to hurt, probably was the reason why the race was not very active on the front. Not surprising really, with the speed of the peloton, and the course conditions so far. We saw Amber USA making a good break with Noemi Cantele ITA, they managed to stay out for about a lap or two. They were reeled in pretty easy on the last lap or so, when a great attack went off the front with about 15 riders. This was about the time the race radio decided to get a little bit lazy. With the last lap already halfway gone, we were blind to what was happening on the front so just waited. Near the top of the big climb, a wind gust came up though the valley and blew a whole section of barriers over, on to the peloton. This caused chaos in the caravan, as we were already stuck in a jam with a crash further back. Quite a few of the girls were trapped and blocked by the barriers, but were gone by the time we reached them. This was the most important break of the day and we hear nothing of who was in it. We waited, waited, and nothing. The race was done, in the group we figured out there was Vos the current champ, Amber, Emma, Joanne Kiesanowski, and a few others. At least we had a chance with Emma for Sweden, Amber for Flexpoint and Joanne K for NZ, I had lots of options at least.

Through the pits for the last time.

Well you probably know the outcome already, Marta Bastianelli (Italy) makes an successful attack and stays out, the rest of the bunch race for the places left. Marianne Vos (Netherlands) sprinted for a very disappointing (she was pissed off) second, and another Italian Giorgina Bronzini (Italy) for third.
Time 3.46.34 (35.406 km/h average).

Rosara Joseph through the finish line, after another dropped chain.

Emma was the best we had in sixth place, sweet for Sweden, and a super result from such a young rider. This rounds out her best year yet. Best for Flexpoint was Amber in 16th, being beaten on the line by Jo K, from NZ. With over half the field not finishing, it was difficult, but not as hard as it’s going to be for the men with 260km to ride. Roll on Sunday.

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