A sprinter's race?
By John Michael Flynn in Geelong
With one day of the Geelong Women's Tour remaining at beautiful Barwon Heads, and a rest day for the riders to look forward to ahead of Saturday's World Cup, one of the yet to be answered questions is - will the Geelong World Cup of 2007 be a race for the sprinters?
The course for 2007 is slightly different to previous years, and will travel in the opposite direction as the world's best women's cyclists complete eight laps of a 15 kilometre circuit around the greater city of Geelong.
Yesterday, Cyclingnews caught up with the four previous winners of the Geelong World Cup, to check on their form and feelings heading into the World Cup series opener for 2007.
There's no disputing T-mobile's Ina Teutenberg will be the hot favourite. The defending champion has started her Geelong Tour with two impressive stage victories, and should the World Cup race come down to a sprint, she is in the right sort of form. Teutenberg faces a tough decision - whether to make it three stage wins from three in today's Geelong Tour finale, or take it easy on the bike with Saturday in mind.
"We have to watch out a little bit because there's only one day rest between the Tour and the World Cup," Teutenberg explained. "The early races still take more out of you than normal, it's hard to recover after the first races and only with one day in between, you have to be really careful not to overdo it those three days."
T-mobile has no shortage of options for the World Cup race. On any given day, any one of the team's six riders (Teutenberg, Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Alexis Rhodes, Linda Villumsen or Oenone Wood) could feature in the race finish.
One of those riders is the Geelong World Cup winner from 2004, Oenone Wood, whose form looks to be getting better with each stage of the Geelong Tour.
"With a team like we've got here that's working already, we've only raced for two days and are working so well together I think we're a great chance to win. 100 per cent," a supremely confident Wood told Cyclingnews. "There are six options in our team and six very realistic options, that's all I can say I suppose. Any one of the six girls can win and I'm very confident of that."
One of those looking to spoil T-Mobile's part is 2005 Geelong World Cup winner Rochelle Gilmore. Racing in 2007 with Italian team Menikini Gysko, Gilmore will be ably supported by fellow Aussie Olivia Gollan and nine-time Japanese National Champion Miho Oki, who finished on the podium in Geelong last year.
"I still haven't seen the course (for the World Cup) so it's hard to say whether it'll be a sprinters race or not," the Cyclingnewsdiarist said. "I definitely have done no work in the hills this summer, just been concentrating on the track. Not sure how hard the hill is in the course."
The Italian team's plan will be to work for Gilmore if the race ends in a sprint - but Oki is also a sprint option, depending upon how the cards fall.
"Yeah I have good shape, but I don't know Saturday," Oki said. "I will help sprint for Rochelle and other girls if possible. If Rochelle is having a good race I can help."
Olivia Gollan will be working for the team but is unsure how the race will pan out on Saturday. "It'll be interesting to see how the World Cup plays out with the different direction of the course," Gollan said. "To see whether it's a harder race or an easier race in terms of how that hill takes its toll and how the race is raced. My best chance of a result for myself is to get in an early break or a late break."
When Cyclingnews talked to 2003 Geelong World Cup Champion Sara Carrigan, she was talking up the altered course for 2007. The Olympic Road Race Champion is pinning her hopes on a breakaway getting away. "I'm very excited about them having changed the course. It's definitely going to make it more interesting, the last three years has made it quite boring, it's hard to get away on that circuit the way it has been. It's just a short little hill, it's hard to attack afterwards because it's a big long downhill. I think there might be more opportunity this year for an exciting race and for attacks to stay away."
Twenty one teams featuring the world's best women's cyclists will line up on the Geelong waterfront at 10:30 AM Saturday.