Karin Thürig of Switzerland is tuning up her form at the Grande Boucle Féminine International, where she is eyeing Friday's time trial. But the race is just the first step toward the much bigger goal of the Olympics in Beijing, where she will aim for gold in her specialty discipline. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake spoke with the Cervélo Lifeforce rider at the start of the race in Gent.
Karin Thürig knows the feeling of winning a major medal well. She has won the time trial World Championship title two times in her career, in 2004 and 2005. Additionally, she has been Swiss time trial champion in 2002 and from 2004 to 2007. But even this impressive list of achievements doesn't make her the favourite for Friday's race against the clock in stage five; her main competition could come from within her own team.
Fellow Swiss rider Priska Doppmann secured her 2005 Grande Boucle win in the final time trial that year, while Austrian Christiane Soeder won the bronze medal at the time trial Worlds in Stuttgart last year. Carla Ryan, a new addition to the team, is the 2007 Australian time trial Champion.
With such a powerful team, Thürig joked, the Cervélo Lifeforce team's best event would be a team time trial, "over 100 kilometres." With 40.1 kilometres against the clock looming on stage five, Thürig wasn't sure if the time trial would be the decisive part of the race given the stages to follow. "It is difficult to say. The stages on Saturday and Sunday have many vertical metres." But she admitted, "The time trial is important for me personally and I think also for Christiane and Priska. Otherwise, we try to do something as a team. We will look day by day."
The team aspect is indeed very important and Doppmann is not necessarily the protected rider. Thürig explained, "We want to win as a team. Christiane is also very strong; Carla too. It is also difficult to say as we didn't have a race in a while, so you don't know where you are [in terms of race fitness level]." Having just returned from a break from racing, the Swiss rider said racing could be a bit difficult on the body for the first few days.
So it all depends on how things go. "We will take today's race [stage 1 - ed.] and then see where we are. Today is not a hard race. Then tomorrow, there are two stages. But even today something can happen."
Indeed, as predicted the race did break up a bit on its way through Belgium, and Thürig was alert enough, despite her break from racing, to make the front groups and was sitting in fifth overall, 34 seconds behind Diana Ziliute after three stages.