Three for three

Team tactics were interesting today; the stronger teams like T-Mobile, the German National team and...

Geelong Women's Tour, Australia, March 1, 2007

Stage Four: 76Km Barwon Heads

Team tactics were interesting today; the stronger teams like T-Mobile, the German National team and Colavita needed a perfect plan to take the overall tour win from Nicole Cooke of Raleigh Lifeforce.

The 15km (5 laps) circuit was flat, but not too technical. The winds were strong, but not strong enough to split the bunch to bits.

After two and half laps, T-mobile attempted to split the bunch to bits, they put all six of their riders on the front and started a team trial. They continued with this tactic for about 15-20 kilometres before starting individual attacks. In theory their plan to fatigue the legs of the other riders, including Nicole’s, could have worked but in reality, I think the riders behind them were able to comfortably hide from the wind. The individual attacks from the T-mobile riders were still strong, and Oenone managed to put 300m into the bunch which she held for about five kilometres, she was caught with about six to go.

My race was quiet until the end of lap three when there was a scary crash. My Danish teammate Dorte Rasmussan came down very hard,and she is in hospital tonight having an operation on her elbow/forearm. She might need it pinned and will most certainly need a skin graft.

I was caught up behind the crash and found myself working very hard to stay on the wheels of Susanne Ljungskog and Olivia Gollan whilst they were in panic mode chasing like crazy to catch the main group. We reached the main group with a lap and a half to go and I was breathing deep. I thought I was in danger, T-mobile were still on the front and I sensed they were about to start their individual attacks. I actually recovered quite quickly and was ready to move with attacks on the last lap.

The last lap was aggressive but the bunch was all together for the sprint finish. Olivia and Miho were on the front with 1 km to go and I was happy but very nervous. The road is wide so it’s always a gamble choosing which side of the road to be on, or which train to follow. My train was dying with 400m to go so as a train passed me on the right, I switched trains with 350m to go and was sitting nicely on Tina Pic’s wheel.

All of a sudden our train stopped and Tina and I were jammed in the right gutter. For a moment I thought it was all over for us, but Tina jumped on the pedals and squeezed through a gap and we pushed to the line from a stalled position. I had no speed or time to get over Tina - she’s the queen of Barwon Heads after winning there three years in a row! Australia’s local girl Jenny Macpherson was third. Nicole Cooke won the tour, and once again confirms why she’s ranked No.1 in the World.

I’ve enjoyed the tour and feel satisfied. I didn’t win a stage for my team but there’s still Saturday and the whole season ahead. Three days and three podium finishes is a good start.

Polar data

Road Stage 4 (Barwon Heads)
Distance: 80 km
Time: 2hrs (unofficial time)
Average Speed: 40 km/hr
Average HR: 165 bpm
Max HR: 213 bpm

Cheers,
Rochelle
www.rochellegilmore.com

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