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The AIS Women's Team Diary 2003
Welcome to one of our more unusual diaries, with entries from the various members of the Australian Institute of Sport's Women's team as they conduct their European campaign.
With rising stars such as Oenone Wood and established power riders like Olivia Gollan, the team has been making a strong mark on the European scene this season. Under the management and coaching of James Victor that success looks set to continue for the year.
La Grande Boucle Féminine
Stage 9a - August 13: Grenoble - Grenoble, 34.6 km
Ljungskog's hard slog rewarded
On the rest day a fair few teams rode over the circuit, and even Nicole Brandli was a bit surprised by the long, solid climb in the middle of the circuit. We all rode up it quite slowly on the rest day, but it was quite a different pace today.
I was keen to ride hard in the short morning stage, a bit frustrated by the feeling that I can't compete with the top riders in the long mountain climbs, and that those stages seem pointless for me. I could definitely improve my climbing and aim for a top 20 place; but the top 10 riders are at a very different level!
The circuit through Grenoble had a fair few traffic islands and roundabouts, making it seem a little like a criterium. Ina Teutenberg (Saturn) attacked after the sprint at about 10km. A couple other riders tried to get away closer to the climb, but were always in sight. Up the climb I did all I could, and was (just) with the front bunch of about 30 riders. The pace really dropped towards the top of the climb. Everyone was tired. I was on my limit just to be there, but you could tell it was a good time to attack. Rasa Polikeviciute gave it a little nudge towards the top. I saw a USA national team rider attack at the crest of the climb, and it was about at that time that a bunch of ten got away. This group included Marcia Eicher-Vouets from our team (Mantes la Ville), Ljungskog, Brandli, Teutenberg, Cappellotto, Slioussareva, Arndt, Neben and Armstrong. They ended up with 1.33 on the following bunch. This moved Ljungskog into 2nd on GC, only a minute from the lead.
For me, at the top of the climb I was just hanging on. It was rather strung out on the descent, and I had to chase a little (actually a lot) at the bottom to get back to the group. I knew the finish, and was hoping to get a decent place for the stage. A couple moves went with about one kilometre to go, but then it bunched up again on the final corner before the long finishing straight. I did not have a good position in the bunch for that last corner, and ended up about in the middle of our group - maybe 30th for the stage. Not quite how I would plan it!
My team mate Marcia had a great ride - eighth in the stage. She nearly got away from the front group in the last corner with Neben, but was caught by the fast sprinters a few hundred meters from the line. Ina won the stage.
Stage 9b - August 13: Grenoble - Lac d'Aiguebelette, 71.0 km
This stage started with a steep climb out of Grenoble: 15km long with an average grade of about 7%. I struggled early on the climb, and clawed my way back to the large group just ahead. It would have been a very long stage on your own! We rode tempo for the rest of the day - over a couple of climbs, but controlled like in a faster than normal neutral zone. The view of Grenoble from the first climb was great! The devil jumped out from behind a tree as we passed him, and he shouted encouragement. The descents were long and much better on dry roads compared to the conditions we experienced on the big mountain stages.
Our group of about 40 riders finished 25 minutes behind Nicole Brandli, who rode incredibly - solo from about 7km into the stage to win the stage by two and a half minutes. She is now 5th on GC, with only a minute or two separating the top five GC spots. Susanne Lungskog is only 42 seconds behind Zinaida Stahurskaia for the leaders jersey. I'm sure there will be action tomorrow! The stage is fairly long (148 km), with four categorised climbs. After that there are three flat stages, and then we will be in Paris for the last 8km individual time trial. It will be interesting if GC is still close for the final time trial.
A toute a l'heure,
Emma's racing exploits in 2002