By John Michael Flynn
The Geelong Women's Tour and World Cup turned into something of a tough outing for the visiting New Zealanders, who brought two teams; the Bike NZ New Zealand National Team and a second 'Team Kiwi' across the ditch (Tasman Sea for non Aussie / Kiwi readers) for the start of the international race season.
The New Zealanders suffered one setback with the loss Marina Duvnjak, who injured her shoulder in a crash during stage three of the Geelong Women's Tour, while the biggest name in New Zealand women's cycling, Sarah Ulmer, continues to struggle with a cryptic injury. Ulmer finished officially in 45th place at this weekend's Geelong World Cup, 52 seconds off the lead group.
The Olympic track pursuit champion remains totally focused on the road for 2007, but her race program will be a week to week proposition as she struggles to get one top of a nerve related injury which is compromising her power output. "The mind's willing but the body's just not quite as keen at the moment., not particularly flash at this stage of the game," a still upbeat Ulmer told Cyclingnews. "Still carrying a niggling injury that I'm battling trying to get over; a few nerve problems. We haven't had too much progress on that unfortunately."
With teammate Melissa Holt in the breakaway, Ulmer stayed close to the front of the bunch for most of yesterday's World Cup race. But the power which helped Ulmer become a World and Olympic Champion in the individual pursuit is still missing. "The year is geared around trying to get on top of whatever the hell it is that's given me a dead leg, we're not thinking past that at the moment," Ulmer said. "It's hard to know how much in terms of performance, it's definitely contributing to a loss of power, exactly how much I don't know."
With no Wellington World Cup in 2007, Ulmer will spearhead the Trusthouse New Zealand team in this week's UCI Trust House Tour of New Zealand which begins on Wednesday - her team including Joanne Kiesanowski, who finished sixth in yesterday's World Cup race.
The start list for the event includes six international teams, most notably T-Mobile and a double strength lineup of two Australian teams - one under the banner of the AIS, the other - an Australian National Team. New Zealand's most high profile sports woman, honest in the appraisal of her form. "Yeah it's always good to be able to give it a nudge in your home country , but shit this is cycling man," Ulmer said, clearly frustrated.