News analysis, September 8, 2004
The women's world cup concludes this Sunday with the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt in Nürnberger, Germany, where Oenone Wood and her Australian team will fight one last time to defend the jersey. A new obstacle popped up for the team recently when they realized that the final round carried double points and therefore that Wood's convincing lead was not yet enough.
The rule change was announced in February this year in the UCI's Official News Bulletin N° 39, sent to all national federations and UCI-registered trade teams. But perhaps it's not surprising it was initially missed. According to the UCI it can be found in Chapter XV, art. 2.15.004 on page 106. The majority of riders and directors were therefore a bit startled when they learnt about it recently.
With 150 points up for grabs for the winner of the final round, Wood can be beaten by Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites/Hartol), who sits 99 behind her after round eight, Zoulfia Zabirova (Let's Go Finland) - 110 points behind and Petra Rossner (Nürnberger), now 121 points behind after her win at Rotterdam. Of the three, the Australians are most concerned about Rossner, who displayed her excellent form last weekend and whose team will be aiming to win this race in the hometown of their sponsor, but are considering the new obstacle as a challenge.
"I think we are capable of winning the race with Oenone," Australian team director, Warren McDonald told Cyclingnews. "Is she as quick as Petra? I think yes. Petra is tactically gifted and has many years of experience in her, but we just have to figure out a way to beat her. I think it's achievable."
McDonald thinks that it is strange that the new rule wasn't publicized in detail by the UCI and believes that if the last race must have double points, the scaling of the points should be changed for next year. "Technically, the way it is now, you only have to take part in two races and you could finish the series in the top three," he explained. "But we are not worried. It makes the World Cup exciting that it comes down to the last race and that's what you want. It is certainly creating interest in women's cycling and that's a good thing. Essentially, we're capable of getting a top ten position and we're capable of winning the race. I know we can do it."
Cyclingnews also caught up with Olivia Gollan who has been involved in helping Wood every step along the way in this World Cup series. "I think it's unfair and a little bit unrealistic," she said. "Oenone can lose on Sunday if she finishes outside the top ten or crashes."
But again, Gollan showed no sign of being upset about the ruling. "Everyone's really pumped. I think we were a massive presence in [Rotterdam]. We just have to make sure we're visible and focused. With the five of us totally committed to Oenone and with Wazza [McDonald] at the helm, we should have no problems."
Gollan went on to say that the whole year riding alongside Wood has been exciting and enjoyable. "When Oenone won that first race in Geelong, it was great," she said. "She came up to me and said, 'We did it Liv, we did it, we did it!' I knew from that point that we could hold on to it and have a great season. Oenone is an awesome talent, and so dedicated to the team. It's a special quality."
After recently her retirement, Rossner also commented on the double point rule that will be in effect this weekend. Despite being one of only three riders who can take the world cup jersey from Wood, Rossner does not agree with the rule. "I don't think it's right," she told Cyclingnews. "Why should one race be double points, when the world cup is supposed to be about consistency?
"We have placed in a few World Cups this year, but our focus has never been about the overall win," she added. "The Australian team has worked so hard all year for Oenone, it just doesn't seem fair. Our goal this weekend will be to win the race, as it is very important to our sponsors, but we are not concerned about the overall. I think the Australians deserve it."
World Cup rankings after round 8