The Anna Millward Diary 2001

Photo: © Rob Karman

Currently ranked world number one in the World Cup and on UCI points, Anna Millward is in France with the Australian national team.

Tour de l'Aude

France, May 18-27, 2001

Stage 3 - May 21: Lézignan-Corbières - Lézignan-Corbières, 128 km

Today we faced 122km with a couple of climbs, but nothing as severe as yesterday. With Edita Pucinskaite (Alfa Lum) in the yellow jersey by five seconds over Lyne Bessette (Canada), Alfa Lum took control of the stage and set the early tempo.

There were two sprints within 4km of each other around the 30km mark of the stage and Sara Carrigan and I helped Alison Wright with those. Alison starred, taking out the first sprint and placing second in the second one. Then it was onto the first climb of the day.

Lyne Bessette dropped her chain right at the bottom of the climb and had a small panic while she had to stop and fix it and then chase us up the climb with the help of her teammate Sandy Espeseth. Lyne made it back to the front of the group with 1km left to the top of the climb and she still won the mountain sprint at the top — amazing!

Following that climb we had a long, gradual descent into the next sprint of the day. We had a bit of a stuff-up there as I tried to lead Alison Wright out for the sprint. I didn't realise she had lost my wheel with about 500 metres to go for the sprint and I ended up giving her rival, Olga Slioussareva, a perfect lead-out. Olga (Carpe Diem) sprinted past me with about 200 metres left to the sprint line, followed by Debby Mansveld (Vlaanderen) and another Carpe Diem rider. I looked back for Ally and realised she was on her own, about 50 metres back, followed by the bunch, another 50 metres behind. By the time the bunch caught both Ally and myself, the trio who had contested the sprint had quite a gap and they weren't hanging around. The next 5km was a gradual uphill and the two Carpe Diem riders were obviously driving it in front as they dropped Debby Mansveld and held the bunch at around 30 seconds. Once they crested the climb they disappeared down the other side and the bunch lost motivation to chase.

For the next 10km we took things pretty easy and the two in front gained a lead of four minutes. At this point the Alfa Lum team went to the front to chase. Olga was around seven minutes behind Edita in the overall classification so Alfa Lum didn't want her gaining more than four minutes today. They set a good tempo into the finish and the gap at the finish was around 3 minutes 30 seconds. Olga took the stage win from her teammate.

Petra Rossner (Germany) made us all look silly in the sprint for third place and I finished up around seventh in the stage.

Tomorrow we have two short flat stages — sounds like a lot more fun to me!