Winning at the Giro & Thüringen

After some wonderful days Petra and I have spent with friends in Sweden, I am back in business now....

August 15, 2007

After some wonderful days Petra and I have spent with friends in Sweden, I am back in business now. Today, I have started my preparation for the last part of the season. The next 10 days I will spend mostly with my bike and my iPod while putting long hours onto the streets around my hometown Leipzig.

So far the season went quiete well for the T-Mobile Team. As a result we are ranked as the number one team in the UCI ranking by now. I think this is pretty cool, isn't it? Well, at least I am very proud to be part of that, plus I just have fun going to work at the moment!

Although it was not always easy to concentrate on racing with all the doping chaos in men's cycling going on, we were able to get some really cool victories onto our account in the last few weeks.

"I was so excited that I almost passed out on the podium. Such a close race...the last bonus sprint had even been a photo finish between us! Could a race be more spectacular?" - Judith after her emotional win at Thüringen

Lets start with the Giro, where we managed to take three stage wins. One time I crossed the finish line first, and on the pictures and in the result, it looked like I had won the bunch sprint. How cool, since it was always my dream to beat all the good sprinters in a real sprint for a stage win! But I have to admit that both the photos and the result were deceptive. In truth I had attacked with one kilometer to go, went solo, and just made it home before the fast girls caught me. No dream come true, but still a groovy way to win a bike race, I think.

As I came out of the Giro not as tired as I usually would have been after 10 days of racing, I was really looking forward to Thüringen Tour which was supposed to start one week later.

Thüringen is almost a home race for me, since I live only one hour from there. A lot of my friends and relatives come to watch the race every year, which makes me really happy. Also my birthday is always when Thueringen is on, which does not make me happy, since drinking and dancing is cancelled then, of course.

Sometimes I get lovely presents from my team-mates. This year, for instance I got a dancing cow from Oenone. I still wonder what she wants to tell me with that...

Back to cycling, the first two days of the tour were just normal races, but on the third day it got interesting, when a British rider named Emma Pooley disappeared on her own and soon had over 10 minutes to the bunch. The Raleigh Team which held the race lead at this point refused to do their job and remained quiet. As nobody else felt responsible to send some riders to the front to do some chasing it was Nuernberger and us who started to work with 30km to go to keep the damage as low as possible. Pooley won with about five minutes ahead of the next group.

The next day changed everything again, since Noemi Cantele, Amber Neben, and I managed to finish with over six minutes on the next group and 37 minutes ahead of the peleton. My stage win put me into the yellow jersey with some seconds ahead of Cantele and more than half of a minute ahead of Neben, which felt quite comfortable.

Unfortunately, the race lead changed again in the time trial the morning after. I didn't have the best legs and felt a bit tired from the long break away the day before. Neben really surprised me with her strong time trial, and of course, I was a bit disappointed, but I was only 10 seconds behind in the overall which wasn't that dramatic either.

Then, some of the most excellent teamwork ever started. Once we had decided to try to get back the time via bonus seconds my team-mates had to chase down every single rider who wanted to disappear. So the magenta women did their team time trial in front of the peleton, and I was only sitting in waiting to sprint for those stupid seconds. It was nerve-wracking! Amber did a pretty good job defending herself, too. However, after the second last stage she was only two seconds ahead, which promised an exciting last day for both riders and specators.

Once the last stage had started, the picture looked the same as for the stage before: attack after attack, and T-Mobile time trialing in the front to get them all back. I was wondering why all those ambitous attacking riders didn't simply wait until after the bonus sprints, then we would have been more than happy to let them go. But attacking like this, they didn't succeed. They only made it really hard for my team-mates.

Anyways, it was hard, but we managed so that I could sprint two more seconds out of Neben, which put us both in equal time. Fortunately my numbers behind the comma in the time trial were better than Neben's, thats why (after some confusion caused by the announcer who called Amber Neben as the winner to the spectators), I got the overall win at the end. For me, that was one of the most emotional victories ever! I was so excited that I almost passed out on the podium. Such a close race...the last bonus sprint had even been a photo finish between us! Could a race be more spectacular?

After some days of deep breathing we went to Sweden for the seventh World Cup race this year. As we had not won a World Cup so far, we were really determined to change that.

With a few different tactical plans in mind we went optimistic into the race.

Sweden is a nice World Cup. They even have fireworks when we come over the climb the first time, and it's not only a lot of spectators, there are also hay bails formed like people watching us. Its a pretty cool atmosphere there!

The race started very agressive with attacks from the gun, and it stayed like this until the end. The best attack was launched by Chantal Beltman from our team. It was just perfectly timed, plus with Karin Thuerig she got the perfect companion as well. They both were smart enough to stay together until the last climb from where it was about six kilometers to go. When I heard in the radio that Chantal had dropped Thuerig in the climb and was away solo to take the win, I really had a hard time to stay focused on the race. It was just too cool, I got goosebumps and was smiling the whole last lap. The most funny thing was that Chantal was just back from her trip to South-Korea and Bejing, but obviously sitting in airplanes and sightseeing in Asia can't be that bad!

That was it for now. I'm off for long slow miles now, where the bakery stops will be the only excitement.

Judith

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