7th Primavera Rosa - World Cup - Italy, March 19, 2005
It has been a really big couple of weeks for the blue corner. Meeting the rest of the team in Lido di Camaiore (Tuscany, Italy) after a marathon journey from New Zealand, we settled in for some training before Primavera Rosa. Though the odds seemed stacked against us with sickness, jet lag and general lack of sleep, we were so well looked after by our staff and the hotel staff that life wasn't so bad. Actually, it was great. We got new bikes, lots of new kit, great food and heaps of attention from a bus load of sponsors and journalists who travelled down from Germany for a weekend of photos, interviews and entertaining. I am really getting used to this 'profie' action!
A group of healthy and well-rested Nurnbergers raced in Italy last Sunday and though for some of them it was a shock to the system - first race of the season - from all accounts they had fun and were happy with the day. Oenone was with the front group up the climb into the finish but fell victim to another crash with 300m to go. Nicole Cooke took line honours from Nicole Brandli and Modesta Vesniauskiate. At least it was a good training day and we got an indication of who is firing early season.
So after a week of good training we headed towards San Remo for the big one. How cool was it to come across the line and see the smile on Trixi's face? Extremely cool. I am pretty sure we have the whole peleton guessing now - and that is even cooler. We didn't even get to celebrate first (Trixi), third (Oenone) and fourth (Regina) last night because we were all travelling in different directions, but we were relishing the moment as we watched Petacchi's victory salute.
Primavera Rosa is a race like no other. It seems like everyone is so nervous, desperate and keen to "win at all costs" that the bunch has this weird feeling of tension. You fly along the flat in front of the water and so many girls fight for first wheel. There are the chancers who attack from the gun - Anche Wichmann and I were in charge of keeping these moves in check. There wasn't a lot of action early but plenty of people who got a 50m gap before the speed of the bunch picked them up again. Corners into towns seem to appear out of nowhere, road works are everywhere and traffic islands seem plentiful - all of this makes the race feel bizarre for some reason. There is something surreal about this race that makes the win seem elusive but at the same time romantic.
With Suzanne De Goeda not far off the overall World Cup lead, the Tom Van Bemelen team were keeping the pace high for the most part of the race. Rochelle Gilmore was looking after herself and was unlucky to puncture before the bottom of the Cipressa (5km climb at the 90km mark) but the aggression from the climbers in the group was always going to make it hard for the two winners of the first rounds. With about 5km to go before the bottom of the Cipressa I was thankfully at the back of the bunch looking to get a feed when a crash left our World Cup leader on her backside in the middle of the road. We chased back on and got to the front of the bunch before the climb. It was then all over for me, really, but I didn't feel too bad up the climb and managed to stay with the third group that included a lot of the sprinters Suzanne De Goeda, Katia Longhin and Giorgia Bronzini until the finish.
From the bottom of the Cipressa, Svetlana Boubnenkova, in her new disco silver kit with "BUBA" written across the backside, attacked, and from there the aggression started. By the top of the climb, 'Buba', Nicole Brandli and Taminini had a gap, and while Oenone was with them at the start of the descent she quickly realised that staying upright was more important. By the time I got down the descent there were bodies everywhere - lots of desperate girls taking risks to win this grand prize. Buba looked really bad and I haven't heard if she is ok - I'm hoping no news is good news.
From the bottom of the descent of the Cipressa until the start of the final climb (Poggio) there is about 8km; Edita Puckinskaite attacked just before the bottom of the Poggio and Lorenzoni attacked on the climb. Teh it was time for Nicole Brandli to attack which led to more attcks towards the top, with Nicole Cooke and Italian Tatiana Guderzo having a go. Judith (Arndt) chased Guderzo to the crest of the climb, and down the descent Brandli, Oenone and Tamini were the front runners.
Into the finish Judith started to lead out with Trixi, Oenone and Regina all there. Around the second last corner, after Judith had swung up, Trixi got a gap and won the crazy race! Oenone and Regina were out-sprinted by Nicole Cooke but it didn't matter - we had won.
I am now in my new home in Frankfurt and about to go for a ride on a gorgeous spring day. We have the team's presentation next week and a couple of weeks to prepare for Flanders. More soon,