Crashing in Geelong

March 5, 2008

My first crash for the season was a shock to the system! I came down pretty hard in our first international road race of the season - it was a silly crash during the Portarlington road stage of the Geelong tour and I can't tell you how it happened - I have no idea. I think there were about five of us who hit the deck but from what I saw it was the bikes that took most of the impact. I had skin off my right arm, hip, thigh, knee and shin but fortunately the grazes were very superficial.

After standing around for what felt like forever, my mechanic had changed the pedals on a spare bike and I started my 20km solo time trial to the finish, hoping to make the time cut in order to start the next stage. Oenone Wood won the stage, by outsprinting the bunch with ease.

My Guerciotti frame was not repairable - the rear dropout had snapped off and cracked the actual frame (rear stay) as well. We also found a ding or hole towards the bottom of the seat tube.

De Grandi cycles came to the rescue and had built a new bike for me within a few hours of the race finish.

I was excited about the Barwon Heads stage the next day as it had been a favourite in the past, but unfortunately my body was not ready, I guess it had used a lot of energy overnight trying to heal. I struggled through the stage and eventually sat up before the finish, exhausted physically and mentally. Ina Teutenberg won the sprint after an impressive leadout by her team - 'High Road'.

There was only one day to recover between the short tour and the world cup. I woke up the day before the world cup (two days after the crash) really stiff and sore and the bruising was becoming visible. I tried to spin on the rollers in the morning but couldn't spin faster then 80rpm. I was also experiencing this irritating rash when my body temperature and heart rate started to rise, so after 20 minutes I called it quits and went to the movies.

Late that afternoon another bike arrived which we set up for the following day's world cup race, our mechanic had the bike set up by 7pm so I jumped on the rollers to see how it felt. I was happy with it. I still didn't feel like my body could cope with a high intensity spin, so I just had to relax and hope that my body would feel better the next morning for the World Cup race.

After dinner we had a team meeting and discussed race tactics for the next day. Our management decided to put Nat (Bates) in some early breaks, Marina and Olivia would cover early moves and Miho and I would save our legs for a potential sprint finish, sprinting separately for ourselves. (Susanne was sick in bed and couldn't start the race). Even though Ina Teutenberg and her team ‘High Road' were clear favourites for the race win, maybe we should have saved everyone and put all our efforts into chasing the break down at the business end of the bike race- It would have been nice to race for the win!

So, I didn't feel great during the race, I wasn't feeing my usual self. I still managed to race in the top 10-20 riders all day and never felt like I was going to get dropped but my legs felt heavy and flat. When we (the bunch) started the last lap we knew we were all racing for 3rd. The two riders in the break were well away! I found some motivation and arrived at the 200m to go sign on second wheel without too much stress. I couldn't come off Ina's wheel so I finished 4th in the world cup.... Meaning that even if the race had been together I probably would have only managed 2nd but you never know!

The two riders in the break were Australia's Emma Rickards (Cervelo- Lifeforce) and America's Katheryn Mattis (Webcor Builders). The girls rode extremely strong to hold off such an elite peloton! Katheryn won the World Cup in a last second sprint to the line.

I'm not sure whether I should feel disappointed or satisfied with my result. Normally 4th place would have been disappointing but considering the way I've felt since the crash, the race and team tactics- I guess 4th is an ok start to the World Cup series.


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Rochelle Gilmore...