Geelong Women's Tour , Australia, February 22-24, 2005
Oenone Wood claimed the first tour win for our new team Nurnberger for 2005 in Lara, Australia this afternoon. Starting the day only 6 seconds in front of Kate Bates, Oenone managed to make a very select group over the infamous Mount Wallace. With the undying support of team mates Judith Arndt and Trixi Worrack she won the stage and the tour - at least a minute and a half in front of Bates.
There were moments during today's stage when I was a bit nervous - particularly when a group of three had over six minutes on the field only 30km into the race! But with Madeline Lindberg and Anke Wichmann going to the front and swapping off for the 20km leading into the horrific climb Nurnberger were in a better position! By the top of the hill, the five top ranked riders in the world were in a group and were going away. Trixi Worrack, Judith Arndt, Mirjiam Melchers, Sussane Ljungskog and Oenone Wood were joined by New Zealander, Susie Wood and these six managed to hold off the chasing the group of Ton Van Bemmelen riders and others looking for a stage win.
This Nurnberger rookie was in the second group with both Bates sisters, Sara Carrigan and Suzanne De Goede. I have had a fairly ordinary week (form wise that is) but felt a bit smug knowing I had three team mates down the road. In the final 3 km Lungskog attacked the front group and Oenone jumped on her wheel. With a free ride to the finish Oenone claimed the stage and the tour. The attack from Lungskog moved her up into second place over all but it was a Nurnberger day! Sprint jersey, two stage wins and the overall victory for Oenone has put a fairly confident air in the camp. New director, Petra Rossner is beaming.
The stories from the first two days of the tour are fairly entertaining. The Geelong Tour prologue on Tuesday was won convincingly by a girl called Natalie Bates. In 8km of sheer hell she took nearly 45 seconds out of me and more time out of some bigger names. Of course tour organisers had issues with a certain Barcelona Olympian. Illegal bike, urinating in public and late for the podium? As I said - it was entertaining! I am hoping Bates has the yellow jersey she deserved to wear in the afternoon stage.
The criterium in the afternoon was won in style by Oenone who was driven to the finish by current world champion, Judith Arndt. I could not believe that after nearly five months of no intensity Judith could motor like she did in the last lap. It was sheer poetry. The funniest moment was when my team mate Madeline waved to me from last wheel of the second group as they caught me. That Port Arlington circuit was not what I needed after that time trial! The strong little Aussie in the camp took the yellow with the win, however - less than a second in front of Bates.
Barwon Heads yesterday seemed like endless sprint primes and beach crosswinds but it ended with Oenone still in the yellow and all of us smiling. American, Tina Mayolo Pic took the stage from NSWIS's Rochelle Gilmore and Oenone claimed third. I had a very nice swim in the surf afterwards - while the rest of the team pedalled home. Lazy, I know!
What a start for Nurnberger! In three days I have had my eyes opened even more to how a team operates. The dedication and professionalism of everyone on board here is a credit to team management and riders. I am so excited to have this opportunity and can't wait for Sunday.
Ciao for now,