5 March 2008

Geelong Tour Preview

The first race was looming for the Women, the Geelong Tour and the Geelong World Cup, so I was starting to get excited. The girls were flying direct from the teams training camp in California, same camp the men had left for after the Tour Down Under. I had seen a few reports of the happenings of the training camp, but most of it was team bonding and bike and clothing fittings. I was kind of glad I wasn’t needed, as it can be a pain with all the small adjustments and changes needed on the new bikes. The last day of the camp was finishing up with the teams presentation. Basically it’s just that, presenting themselves to the Worlds media and the sponsors. I scoured the internet the day before the team was set to arrive, looking for images of this years line up, and of course the new team uniform. I could find nothing but a few dodgy cell phone pics on some just as dodgy blogs. But time to start getting organised, the first arrival was a nice 6.30 am the next morning, with the rest of the team arriving at 9.30am. I was going to take the medium time, have a coffee or three with our new soigneur Klaus, and wait for the rest of the gang. But my plans for a sleep in till 8am failed, as the Director sent a message through at 5am saying they were delayed three hours in Auckland, en-route to Melbourne, so time for a drive, to pick p Klaus a bit earlier than planned. But as you might have guessed, upon arriving about 7am, Klaus’s plane was delayed three hours as well. Seems like the only two planes delayed out of the multiple arriving were the two I was waiting for. It did give me a bit of time to check out some of the photos of the Team Presentation, and what a treat, the team was looking fantastic, all lined up, hair and makeup done for possibly the only time all year. There was one of the girls missing, Kate Bates, I later found out she had a small case of pneumonia, and was recovering in hospital. But the rest of them looked great, with the boys surrounding them, they looked dangerous, watch out world, we are now ready for business.

Linda and Alex in the background, out training in the sun.

Finally after a few hours hanging out at the airport (not my favourite pastime), Klaus arrived, we had time for some caffeine before the rest of the team arrived. And they arrived, with enough baggage to fill the hold of the plane almost all themselves. But at least all the bikes arrived, safe and sound with no damage that I could see. I spent the afternoon unpacking and putting everything back together that had been taken apart and off the bikes for travelling. A few tires to pump, the odd hanger to straighten, otherwise just the odd tune and bar alignment to sort out, and they were ready to ride. At least I had a little bit of work to do for the day.

I had been out on the loaner bike for a few days earlier, so had a few hours in my legs, at least I would be able to keep up with the girls while they are full of jetlag. Everyone slept well, Klaus was the worst off, with the usual 24 hours from Europe jetlag, those of us in the southern hemisphere are so used to, so he was looking pretty wasted by bedtime. The training ride was sweet, and for the first time this year, I was looking at a full team of girls rather than the guys, and even better from a bike than in the car for a change. Time for a bit of team bonding, and It was also time to hang with the new Director, see what makes him tick, and see what sort of knowledge of racing he has under his belt. The staff were the new guys on the team, all the girls had been in the team last year, so we were the ones trying to blend in, just to make us look like we had been there the whole time. But the racing was starting tomorrow, so there was not too much time to spare. We were starting the Geelong tour with the usual smaller than last year 8.5km Timetrail in the morning. Stage two in the afternoon was not the usual criterium, but now three laps of a 25km loop, a real road race for the afternoon. The day after we had the third stage out at Barwon heads, and that was it for the tour. The nice hilly stage up in Lara was not happening for some reason this year. A day recovery for the girls, and a days serious work for me, then right into the first World Cup for the year.

The beautiful beaches of the Geelong area, must be time for a swim. Linda and Oneone (right)

The Kiwi National team was also racing this week, with a few of the usual faces back again, Toni, Marina, Carissa, Cath and a couple of others whom names elude me at this stage. Cervelo-Lifeforce, Nurenburger, a few Aussie teams, as well as the National team. Menikini with Susanne in her new kit. USA had also managed to get a start, along with Webcor (the only UCI team in the Sates this season). All of these team would be going to race in the NZ tour as well, along with another few National teams, so the racing was looking like it might be a bit more serious this time around. Let hope our girls have some legs that are race ready. The bikes will be perfect of course.

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