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Australia's top female time trialers are attending a training camp in Melbourne, Australia this week to scout the 2010 UCI World Road Championships time trial course. The riders will also spend time in Monash University's wind tunnel, where a PhD student and the Australian Institute of Sport's biomechanics department hope to improve each rider's position.
With the course weaving through the busy streets of Geelong, Australia's top women's coach Martin Barras has broken the route down in to eight segments which will be completed individually over two time slots today. Riders attending the camp include current Australian champion in the discipline Amber Halliday, top Australia finisher at last year's worlds Alexis Rhodes and time trial convert Bridie O'Donnell.
"It's a heavily urbanized course which makes it unpractical to run the course all in one shot without any interruptions due to traffic lights, traffic or stop signs," Barras told Cyclingnews. "There will be no trial event, so for a local team there's no option to run a full rehearsal on the course.
"We're taking the girls on the course with the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the course – wind directions, road conditions - all those kind of things," he added. "We're recording the performances so we can start profiling the type of race we're going to get."
Barras hopes the data gathered from the camp will assist with designing course-specific training programs and also project a likely winning time for the event. It's the second camp the Australian squad has held on the course and with the European season about to get underway it also represents the last chance to gather data on the course before worlds.
"It's very much to improve our knowledge of the course, improve our knowledge of the girls which go with us to the course, so we can then apply the best training prescription as possible," said Barras. "On top of that we want to get an assessment of the course conditions and a likely winning time, those kind of things."
When the riders hit the wind tunnel later this week they're hopeful of finding the right wheels, helmets and skin suits for each rider. Barras believes international cycling is heading towards very discipline-specific riders and wants to support riders like O'Donnell in becoming a time trial focused rider.
"There's two general mandates when it comes to the wind tunnel, one is to go through the rider's positions individually," he said.
"We want to understand the principals of not just aerodynamics but specifically time trial and cycling aerodynamics. There's a bit of experimentation and learning that goes along with the optimization of positions."
Riders attending Australian women's time trial training camp: Alex Rhodes, Vicki Whitelaw, Bridie O'Donnell, Tiffany Cromwell, Sarah Roy, Carly Light, Alexandra Carle and Amber Halliday.