Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Not much luck in Bern

After a not so positive Fleche Wallone, we had a few days in Maastricht in the south of Holland to do a little training, have some rest and enjoy drinking coffee outside with the first spell of really nice weather. We had a great few days and then hopped in the cars again for a 650km journey to Bern in Switzerland. We left early on Saturday and had an easy trip through the lovely countryside of Switzerland. On Sunday we awoke to rainy skies for the 5th round of the World Cup in Bern...6 laps of a 20.8 km circuit with a tough 9% 1km climb at the half-way mark. The question was whether or not to race carbon wheels in wet conditions but I was optimistic that the sun would come out and opted for the fast wheels. I said to my team-mate Suzanne that I had a really good feeling about the day...I was to be proven wrong, but then that isn't the first time! The race began rather briskly, with several teams keen to make it a hard race and try and get rid of World Cup leader Ina Teutenberg. Over the climb each lap there were less and less girls, although it tended to re-group a little over the descent and back onto the small windy roads. I was feeling quite hesitant in the bunch but gaining confidence on each lap as I was climbing well and feeling strong. Unfortunately it all went pear shaped when a Spanish rider fell on the fastest section of the descent, taking quite a few girls with her.....me included. Luckily I was relatively unharmed with only small bits of skin off the usual places...elbows and knees and fingers, where one of my hands went into a girls spokes...ouch! It took a while for me to get up and moving and get my bike fixed so the race was well and truly over for me....I rode another lap with one of the Aussie girls (struggling up the climb in the big chain ring as I had ruined my front gear lever and couldn't get into the small ring) and then called it a day. It was a really exciting finish with Zoufia Zabirova making her classic solo attack move in the last 1km and the bunch sprinting for 2nd only metres from her. So after the race I packed up my gear, gave my bikes to the Australian team and jumped in the car of team Nobili (Liv Gollan's team) for the trip to Italy. I am spending a week in Italy with the Australian team, having my new team bike set up by the biomechanist and getting some much needed physio screening. The next race on the agenda is Souvenir Magali Pache time trial this weekend in Switzerland....hopefully more luck for that one!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A tough Fleche Wallone

The fourth round of the World Cup Series of the year was held yesterday - the infamous Fleche Wallone, finishing on the 1km long 'wall' - the Muur de Huy. This is the fourth time that I have ridden Fleche but this year was special as mumsie and dadsie were there to watch - their first taste of European racing. They looked particularly excited as I passed them with 300m to go (they got a good look at me as I was nearly standing still!).....my dad exercising his vocal cords well and truly...just a shame that I was 2.5 mins off the pace! The race began rather sedately but with such a tough last 50km this wasn't a real surprise...the pace swiftly picked up in the last 40km and 1km from the top of the second last climb my little legsies were no longer able to hold onto the bunch in front. I was disappointed with myself as I really wanted to get over that climb and help my teammates onto the final berg...but today wasn't to be. Nicole Cooke proved that this is really her kind of terrain, taking the race out for the third time, with the Germans Judith Ardnt and Trixi Worrack completing the podium.
Luckily for us...there is always another bike race, and after a 3 hour ride through Limburg and into Belgium today my legs are getting ready for World Cup #5 to be held in Bern in Switzerland on Sunday. I am staying in the south of Holland for just 2 more nights and drive to Bern on Saturday morning....looking forward to a recovery ride and big coffee in the morning :)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Win in Furth!

So...after too many excuses but no writing, I am finally posting my first proper blog thingy.

I have now been in Europe for just over 3 weeks, and it has gone quite quickly. I was picked up from the airport by my team-mate and house-mate Sandra 'Miesi' Missbach and together with Liv Gollan we spent a few days in Holland trying to get over our jet-lag and get used to the cold. Our first European race of the season was the Ronde van Vlanderen (Tour of Flanders) - a great race with so much atmosphere but unfortunately for me a lot of cobbles as well. It was great to be back and racing with the team and I was just hoping that it would be possible to help out somewhere on the course. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and again I proved to my team that a cobble specialist I definitely am not!

After Flanders I headed to Germany with my team-mate Theresa Senff for two weeks of training in the hills. I wasn't quite prepared for just how cold it was going to be...when it began to snow the morning of my second day there I realised that not packing my thermal jacket and pants was a big mistake - what was I thinking! But a good two weeks it was....plenty of good rides in yucky weather...and the one day we did race the sun was shining - quite a blessing! We travelled to a place called Furth, near Nurnberg to race a small German race. We had 4 laps around a 16km lap - it included a 1km climb to the finish, very steep 18% at the bottom and cobbled near the top. Early in the race four of us got away, and then with a bit of team-work I was able to launch up the hill on the second last lap and solo to the finish. So two solo victories in two weeks - a great start to the year for me!