Olympic champ motivated for Madrid

Olympic road race champion Sara Carrigan lines out in today's elite women's time trial fired up by...

An interview with Sara Carrigan, September 21, 2005

Olympic road race champion Sara Carrigan lines out in today's elite women's time trial fired up by the chance of doing well. She has by her own admission had a quiet time since taking gold in Athens in August, her return to form after a long break moving slower than she anticipated. Shane Stokes reports.

"I guess I didn't really expect this," the chatty Australian told Cyclingnews on Tuesday evening. "I had a two and a half to a three-month break after the Olympics last year and it has taken a long time to build back up. But at the moment, this is actually the best form that I have felt all year, so I feel confident with that. It was also good to ride around the course today."

Although Carrigan feels that her year has been somewhat quiet, she has nevertheless amassed some decent results. She finished as runner up in the Australian road race and time trial championships, while also taking silver in the pursuit champs on the track. Second places on stages of the Tour de L'Aude Feminin and the New Zealand women's Tour plus third on a stage and in the final overall classification of the Vuelta Ciclista Castilla y Leon Feminas are also very respectable results.

The 25 year-old is hopeful that she can ride well in Wednesday's race against the clock. "I feel confident and I am hoping for a good result. The last time trial I did was in May, so it is a little bit difficult to be 100% certain. But as I said, I am feeling good so I definitely think a strong result is possible."

Saturday's road race will also be a focus for her. The Australian team are yet to preview the course - "we will ride around the course together and then see what we think," she said - but she is similarly optimistic.

"I would definitely count the Aussies in," she states. "We have certainly got good form and a result is forthcoming now. So hopefully it will go well."

Cyclingnews: How is your form heading into the World's?

Sara Carrigan: It has been a bit of a slow season for me this year. I guess I didn't really expect this. I had a two and a half to a three-month break after the Olympics last year and it has taken a long time to build back up. But at the moment this is actually the best form that I have felt all year, so I feel confident with that. It was also good to ride around the course today. It is actually hard to believe that it is on tomorrow, everything has gone so quickly!

CN: What do you think of the course?

SC: It is actually pretty interesting, it is different to how I expected from all the things that I have heard. People who have seen the course have come back and told stories about it. It is actually got a bit of everything, a false flat, a bit of a pinch. It is not real technical but it is definitely a strong rider's course and I think that a good pacing strategy is going to be important to ensure a good result.

CN: What are your own expectations?

SC: Well I feel confident and I am hoping for a good result. The last time trial I did was in May, so it is a little bit difficult to be 100 percent certain. But as I said, I am feeling good so I definitely think a strong result is possible.

CN: Who for you are the other contenders?

SC: Well, I definitely don't think you can discount the reigning world champion, Karen Thurig. She has been going quite strongly this year and also Somarriba. This is going to be her last season of racing and being a Spaniard, I am sure she is going to want to do well on her home territory. We haven't really seen much of her throughout the year but I am sure she has been preparing specifically for this.

Judith Arndt has been going really strongly this year although she has been a little bit sick for the last couple of weeks, so we will see how she recovers from that.

That is just some names of the top of my head, but I think they could even be a couple of surprises. It is really hard to say because it is a strong rider's course and I think there will be a lot of girls able to post a fast time. But they are the three riders that stand out for me.

CN: What then is the plan for the road race?

SC: Well, we haven't seen that course yet, but it is really hard to know after seeing the time trial course and hearing what people had to say beforehand. The time trial course is definitely a lot more difficult than what I expected, so if the same thing turns out with the road race course then it is going to be a hard race.

CN: Who do you see as possible medal prospects?

SC: Well, that is just too hard to say at the moment, when we haven't seen the course. But of course you have to look at the strong teams - Germany is a strong team, and obviously they have got seven riders this year with Judith being the current champion. They are allowed to start with seven.

I would definitely count the Aussies in, we have certainly got good form and a result is forthcoming now (laughs). So hopefully it will go well.

CN: Will there be a protected rider on the team or will it be a question of seeing how it works out on the day?

SC: Yeah, that is it. We are up there together and we will just called the shots on the road. We haven't even seen the course yet, so we haven't even talked about tactics as yet. The other girls aren't even here, they arrive on Thursday. So we will ride around the course together and see then what we think.

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