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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.
Giro della Romagna Donne, Italy, September 28, 2003
Romping in Romagna
By Olivia Gollan
The last race in Europe for 2003! Not that we have been counting down the days or anything, but there is definitely a sense of anticipation in the air. The national women's team for World Championships is training together in Novellara at the moment in the lead up for Canada. We headed for Romanga on Sunday to get a taste of what it will be like to race together after 12 months in different professional and AIS teams.
The Giro della Romagna last year was a flat circuit race, but the organisers took a different loop this year after the Italian national coach asked for some hills to be added into the equation. So we raced 30km on the flat and then did five laps of an 8km circuit that included a 3km climb with a KOM at the top of every lap. Then it was another 40km of flat to the finish.
The race was very aggressive from the start with Road Runner Guerciotti sending riders down the road from the gun. The Swiss national team were trying to keep it together until the climb for Priska Doppman who showed some form in Toscana after having most of the season getting over illness. Mirjiam Melchers and Nicole Cooke were looking for a hard race and were keen to be in anything that looked like it might stick.
We started with five riders from our World's crew - minus Alison Wright racing with Road Runner. Katie Mactier did a great job covering all of the early moves along the flat and over a few pinches on the way to the climb. The climb was fairly tame the first time over and I managed to sneak in a GPM win without too much trouble.
Next time over was much more aggressive with Sara Carrigan driving on the front taking me towards the GPM. Over the top we were left with six riders - Mirjiam, Nicole, Pucinskaite, Doppman, Oenone and myself. There was a bit of a reluctance to commit from a few riders and we were caught just before the start of the next climb. I was eating up the GPMs without really much competition (am still not really sure why I was keen to race them!). On the fifth lap, Margaret Hemsley attacked up the climb and stirred things up. Cooke went over the top of her and we had another select group over the top.
Melchers, Cooke, Vera Carrara (Ceramiche Pagnoncelli), Tatiana Guderzo (Top Girls), Oenone and myself ended up in the group of six that took the race to the finish. Oenone had done so much damage to the peleton up nearly every pinch and it was really starting to take its toll on me! The six of us swapped off until about 8km to go when we had over three minutes on the main field. I told Oenone to stop working and wait for the sprint. As soon as she stopped working the attacks started and I was trying to break it up, but really felt like I had nothing. Oenone was awesome - going with everything but not doing too much. I had one last dig with 2km to go but everyone was on my wheel.
Then I was out in no man's land on the opposite side of the road to the other five waiting for the next move. They weren't watching me so I dug deep and with a kilometre and a half to go, I got 50 metres on the bunch. Amazingly, I pulled it off and came in just ahead of the others - while Oenone sprinted for second. Not a bad result for the last race before World's! The little old ladies who swamped us with home-made Piadina and cake after the race were pretty thrilled as well.
All stations go!
The last tour of the season, the Giro della Toscana, ended with a great result when Oenone slipped away on the second last day, elevating elevated herself into fourth on GC with an incredible ride. I hung on to ninth on GC and tried in vain to get the last stage. The last race of the season took us all by surprise with first and second on the podium; the question now is: can we take this strength and these results to Canada?
The team has been fighting a really nasty bug that is just starting to let go and we are all feeling the pressure of knowing we are the number one country in the world for women's cycling right now. But it is all about rising to the occasion and taking the bit between the teeth and all that other stuff. There are a lot of very strong and motivated girls in the world at the moment, but Australia owns a few of them - Alison Wright, Oenone Wood, Sara Carrigan, Katie Mactier, Magaret Hemsley and dare I say me!
I have just come in from my last hard training session in Novellara this year and am about to pack my bag for Canada. Found out a few days ago that my Dad is making a flying trip to watch the TT and the road race so am really looking forward to seeing him and having his support. It is all stations go now - hope we can pull something off.