By John Michael Flynn in Port Arlington
At the end of the second stage of the Geelong Women's Tour, Nicole Cooke (Raleigh Lifeforce Creation) wears the purple race leader's jersey and also leads the points classification. The Briton is in a commanding position but has the disadvantage of never before having raced the Geelong Tour, which tomorrow heads to the town of Lara – a road stage punctuated with one of the toughest climbs in women's cycling.
Team mechanics will be spending this evening changing rear clusters on race, with 27 tooth cogs a must for anyone hoping to make it to the top of tomorrow's power climb.
"Yeah, I've never done this race before so it's going to be a new experience for me," Cooke admitted. "I have heard from my teammates who've done this race before it's a pretty tough climb, so hopefully we're all well prepared for it.
"I've heard it's a specialist climb, it's very steep so hopefully I'll be able to get over the top of it with the front group."
Rivals are taking note of Cooke's early season form, which appears to be a level above the same time last year.
The Brit is rated a strong chance of both winning the Geelong Women's Tour and Saturday's Geelong World Cup, at least according to the opinion of defending Geelong World Cup champion Ina Teutenberg.
"I think there are a lot of people way fitter than they were last year, for example Nicole Cooke," Teutenberg noted. "I mean looking at her this year and looking at her last year, there's a difference."