Women's Tour de Snowy
Australia, February 28-March 4, 1999
World’s best to take on the Snowy RegionKathy Watt, the Olympic Games gold medallist from Barcelona will head Australia’s chances for victory in the 1999 Tour de Snowy. Watt, one of the greatest cyclists in the history of women cycling, has been preparing for the Tour de Snowy in Tasmania.
Watt however will not team with other Australians and has opted to compete with six international stars forming a composite World Team.
It is a very impressive line up and includes American stars Karen Kurreck and Elizabeth Emery, French stars Elizabeth Chevanne-Brunel and Carine Peter, Canadians Leigh Hobson and Anne Samplonius and Finnish sensation Sara Saarelainen.
Watt is not perturbed about not having support of an Australian team and is convinced that the race will be more an individual test than a team test.
Watt said "The hills and tough mountains will be the most telling point of the tour and I anticipate being in a winning position when we hit the tough climbs. Relying on team mates may be a disadvantage".
Watt’s preparation has been tapered a little for the National track titles as the former national champion takes on long standing rival Lucy Tyler-Sharman in the Australian Pursuit title in Perth, just four days prior to the start of the Tour de Snowy.
The Tour de Snowy, initiated by Premier Bob Carr last year as part of the Thredbo revival package, was an instant success in 1998 and attracted a field of 66 cyclists.
The 1999 race will be staged over 5 days from 28 February to 4 March and has been bolstered by the Union Cycliste International’s decision to elevate the race to the highest ranked tour for women cyclists ? the equivalent of the men’s Tour de France.
The Tour de Snowy has had more than 100% increase in international competitors and the Snowy region is set for one of the biggest women’s cycle tour in the world. This year’s tour will also focus additional promotion on the 50th anniversary of the Snowy Mountain Scheme.
Anna Wilson, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist from Kuala Lumpar and second last year is also keen to add the Tour de Snowy to her impressive lists of major achievements.
Wilson will race for the VIS team and is joined by Australia’s other world star Liz Tadich.
Tadich, just 22 years of age from Shepparton in Victoria, is a silver medallist from the 1997 World titles and a bronze medallist in the World Cup in Sydney last year.
The international field however is a tough proposition, even on home soil for the Australians, especially considering that 17 countries will be contesting the race.
Barbara Heeb, the 1996 World Champion from Switzerland was surprised by the tenacity of the mountains last year and has prepared for this year’s event with several months in New Zealand. Heeb will certainly be a tough rider to beat considering that she has finished second in the 1997 Tour de France and been placed in the Giro d’Italia. Heeb also finished 8th in the Atlanta Olympic Road race but will be better suited to the very tough terrain of the Snowy.
Karen Kurreck, the 36 Californian, is also a tough proposition and will be well suited to the variance of the stages. A former World Champion, Kurreck has been placed in all of the major races of the world and is a US Pro Champion.
Gunn Rite Dahle, the 26 year old cyclist from Stavanger, Norway may also take a liking to the Snowy Region. Dahle has not only performed exceptionally well on the road machine but also has won five Mountain Bike World Cups and finished places in World and Olympic Games. Dahle also won a very tough stage in last year’s Tour de France.
Slovakia and the Czech Republic have formed an outstanding team for this year’s race headed by Lenka Ilavska, the 27 year old from Slovakia. Ilavska has won a staggering 17 national titles and had big wins in the Giro d’Italia, the Thuringen Tour of Germany, the Tour of Portugal and Emakumeen of Spain.
Hanaka Kupfernagel of Germany will most probably assume race favouritism. The 24 year old is a former triple world junior champion and finished third in the World time trial champion and 3rd in the World Road Championship last year. In 1997, Kupfernagel was the number one ranked cyclist in the world.
Mari Holden, the 27 year USA champion and winner of last year’s Street Skills Tour in New Zealand will race with the Lithuanian team in the Tour de Snowy. Holden won 8 major internationals last year and would be delighted to start with a first up win in 1999.
The five day Tour de Snowy will start this year in Tumut and race just 43 kilometres from Tumut to Talbingo. After a short break the riders will then tackle an 8.4 km time trial from Talbingo shopping village finishing on top of Talbingo Dam Wall.
On Monday 1 March, the cyclists will face the biggest challenge of the tour ? a 111 kilometre stage from Khancoban to Cabramurra, in which the cyclists will be confronted by more than 1000 metres of climbing including the steep climb up past Tumut 2 Power Station.
Adaminaby to Jindabyne will be a welcome change for the cyclists before undertaking some more tough climbs on the fourth day, from Jindabyne to Thredbo via Charlotte Pass.
The final road stage will be from Jindabyne to Cooma, just 62 kilometres with the cyclist completing the 1999 race with a 30 kilometre twilight criterium.
It will be a great way of completing five great days of racing with a fast road stage and an exciting criterium race.
After two complete days of rest the cyclists from the Tour de Snowy will be joined by another 21 international and Australian competitors in the 1999 World Cup in Canberra.
123 competitors will race 102 kilometres, 20 laps of a 5.1 kilometre circuit which will take in some wonderful scenic locations of Australia’s capital. The start finish location will be at Lennox Gardens beside Lake Burley Griffin and will pass many of the embassies of competing countries.
The World Cup also takes on a major significance with the race the first of eight World Cups staged throughout the world and a selection event for countries in their bid to gain Olympic selection for Sydney in the year 2000.
Both the World Cup and the Tour de Snowy are two events that will be utilised to introduce the Womens International Sportsfestival that will be staged over the next month. It should prove a great month for women sport in Australia.