2004 Launceston Christmas Carnival

Tasmania, Australia, December 28, 2004

I enjoyed a relaxing day off racing yesterday by seeing a movie and watching the richest men's one day cycling race in Australia, the Gunns Launceston Cycling Classic.

You will read plenty of reports on CN about the men's racing last night but it's really hard to explain the atmosphere as Matt Goss from Tasmania crossed the line ahead of Stuart O'Grady in front of thousands of roaring fans. It was enough to give anyone goose bumps!

I woke up this morning with an extremely sore throat and scratchy chest but still attempted my training session of power and strength efforts before heading up to the indoor Velodrome in Launceston for a 12.30pm start to the carnival.

The first women's race was an elimination race which I normally love to race, but unfortunately this time I raced very poorly, my body felt very fatigued and my chest was so tight and scratchy that I was having trouble breathing. At this stage I was sure I had a chest infection, but after speaking with some Tasmanians about how I felt, they convinced me into believing that what I was experiencing was a mild fever or allergic reaction to something in the air down here.

So I decided to miss the next race (Points Race) and make a trip to the chemist for an antihistamine which I took immediately. I returned to the track just in time to watch the women's race from the crowded stands, the race was fast, aggressive and a little dangerous. There was a series of hard tactical manoeuvre the ended with a serious crash that caused the race to be stopped, a young Tasmanian girl was taken to hospital in an ambulance. After a 30 minute delay the race was restarted as I sat there feeling very comfortable with my decision to sit that one out!

The next race for us was the big one...the women's wheel, the one I really wanted to win again! We had a strong line up on scratch but the gap just seemed impossible, it never really looked like we were going to get up and there was no chance of ever catching Louise Yaxley! Louise is riding very strong and took advantage of generous handicap to take the win in front of a very satisfied home crowd.

As the night was getting late I started to warm up for the last scratch race of the evening. I was definitely feeling a lot better than earlier in the day, the legs were still lethargic and dead from the morning session but my head and chest were now clear. I wanted to take a win at the Launceston Carnival and this was my last chance. I knew the fastest rider in the race was going to be Liz Williams (500m/Sprint specialist) from NZ. Liz has been living and training in Melbourne with John Beasley and she is finally starting to reach her full potential...scary thought for her rivals!

I was hoping for a hard fast race but it was only 15 laps, not quite long enough to hurt Lizzie's legs! Belinda Goss led out the last lap and I was on her wheel knowing that Liz was right behind me ready to pounce! I wanted to leave my run at Belinda to the very last minute but anxiety got the better of me and I jumped a little too early allowing Liz time to get over me. Liz and I threw for the line not knowing who had won, we rolled around the infield for a good 10 minutes waiting for the judges to view the photo finish and announce the winner. I must admit that I was surprised to hear I had won the race - it was so close!

Tomorrow we head to Devonport for two days of racing.

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Rochelle Gilmore...