5 March 2008

Geelong Tour 08

The first race day arrived around pretty quick, and the bad thing was that it started with a double stage. At least there was no TT bikes or equipment allowed for the short Timetrail. At least there would not be as busy messing around with equipment and stuff, which is usual for such a race. The sun was up, but as usual, when we arrived early at the course, the wind was starting to pick up steadly. It’s always a gamble who to send out first, as who knows what the weather will be doing for the two of three hours while we set off all the girls after each other. The order for the start was the usual TT rules, every team sets of one rider after another, till all the teams have sent their first out. Then we start again with the next in line for all the teams (as opposed to order of GC in reverse). This order is given the previous day, so no changes on race day. The good thing is that you get into a bit of a rhythm for the morning. Once I have the first one off, there was about twenty minutes to get organised for the second etc. Ronnie was driving behind every girl with wheels just in case of punctures or crashes, and Klaus was prepping the legs and bottles, and looking after the girls upon their return with food and drink. It all worked like clockwork, and as long as the girls had no issues on the course, Ronnie would get back just in time to tail the next girl.

Chantell belts it out for the TT

The first two stages were in the Portarlington area, with a nice beachfront course, the Europeans were loving it. They don’t get to see beaches like this very often, and the sun was pretty rare in some places as well. With such a small distance to race (6.5km), things in the GC would be pretty tight, but it was still serious as you could keep your lead easy with only two stages to come. All the gang rode well, and there were a few good TT riders here, so we were not expecting much in the way of podium finishes. Karin Thurig and Kristen Armstrong were both ex World TT champs, so were the favourites for the day. But Ina shone this morning, with the top time until the last few riders. Christiana Soeder (Cervelo) took the win, Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini) was second, but we got a third with Ina’s blinding effort (she’s not known for her TT prowess). All the others finished well, but for such a small race, I think we had four in the top ten, not a bad start. Now for a few hours hanging around till the afternoons stage.

The back of the bunch

The afternoon start rolled around pretty quick, I only had time for a quick bite to eat and a couple of coffees. The lap was pretty simple, but a hell of lot nicer than the crit they usually have here. Only 75km or something, so not long enough to hurt the other riders. The peloton looked good at the start, a few black jerseys from the Kiwis looked great, always makes me proud to be a Kiwi, and I love black as well. I was starting to pick out our new team uniforms in the peloton, they were a bit harder then the black kits we had in the Tour Down Under. But it would not be too long to pick them out at a distance from the caravan. The race was underway, and things were pretty fast on the first lap. A bunch of nervous younger riders were hanging out the back of the bunch, but they stayed all together. Second lap and we had a few attacks form a few riders, and even Brie from NZ stayed away for a while, but there was some action at the back. A couple of wheels touched, a few riders were down, lucky, but our girls were all at the front. One rider down was Rochelle Gilmore, with a broken bike, and another couple of girls down with a broken ass. I breathed easy, but was not relaxing yet. Third lap and things were speeding up a lot. We got on the front to drive it home, trying to place Ina in a good position for the sprint. With 10km to go, the bunch was starting to split, no the training starts to pay off for those that have done it. Things were spread out in single file as we hit 5km to go, we still had control on the front, driving hard. With 3km to go, Oneone had the front, and kept the speed high for Ina. But she was too fast, and Ina decided to leave a gap, but sprinted as well. Success, first place for Oneone and a second for Ina, our first podium for the team, and two was a good start.

The good old Kiwi team, with a new kit this year.

The next day was the last stage out in Barwon Heads, the current town of Cadel Evans, so it knew about bike races. The loop around the beach was a long and windy one, kind of boring, and heavy roads as well. Should really sort out the field fast today, and with Ina in second place 27sec behind the leader Christiane Soeder, and another 10 sec to third with Susanne, it was looking difficult before we started. With only 93km to race it would be hard to pull in that much time. We raced hard, attacked like hell, a few riders got away, but it came to nothing. The surf was looking great as we came though the finish line on every lap, at least the surfers were having a good day. Halfway through there was another little crash, but nothing important, all the gang was safe up front. We tried a few things, but Cervelo were taking good control on the front, seems they had some good friends in the USA national team, they were far too strong for us. Coming into the last lap, we put some speed on the front, pushing as hard as we could for a win. At least we could take another stage if we couldn’t win the tour. We battled on, and almost in a repeat of the day before, we placed Ina in the perfect place for a win, this time Oneone moved aside and took the second place, nice, 1st and 2nd on the podium again. Looking at the results on the finish, we had also managed to gap both Soeder and Ljungskog. We were within 10secs of winning the tour, but got second overall with Ina, we were happy enough for so early in the season.

Spread on the Barwin Heads circuit.

The final podium, from left. Oneone-sprinters Jersey, Linda- young riders jersey, Ina-second, Soeder-first, Susanne-third.

Check out some more pics here. Next report is the Geelong World cup, followed by the Tour of Wellington in my own beautiful country. But don’t get too excited as I have just arrived in Germany and about to drive to Italy for two days for some more racing with the men. See how my time management goes. But at least you can check out some of the images in the meantime.

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