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 7a - May 25: Castelnaudary - Bram, 45 km

Today we faced another two short stages - 45 km in the morning and 63km in the afternoon. The stages looked easy enough on paper but there was a HUGE upset in the tour today. This morning we raced over a category 2 climb with the bunch all together.

Magali LeFloch (Diffu Sport) attacked just before the descent and was quickly followed by Sara Carrigan (Australia). On the wet descent, the duo took more than a minute out of a more cautious bunch by the bottom and they held their lead to the finish. At the end, Magali was too quick for Sara and was all smiles for her stage win. Sara's effort gave her the young rider award for the stage.


Stage 7b - May 25: Bram - Limoux, 63 km

In the afternoon, it was action from the start. Hayley Rutherford (Australia) attacked only a couple of kilometres into the stage and was followed by Petra Rossner (Germany), Olga Slioussareva (Carpe Diem), Chantal Beltman (Holland), Fany Lecourtois (Alfa Lum), Julie Young (Autotrader), Debby Mansveld (Vlaanderen), Laure Werner (Vlaanderen), and a Ukraine rider.

They gained a good gap very quickly and then in strong crosswinds, Lyne Bessette (Canada) tried to go across. She was chased down by Edita Pucinskaite (Alfa Lum) but that effort tired Edita and everyone else out and so when Judith Arndt (Germany) counterattacked and went across to the break in the gutter, no one followed her. That was a very dangerous move for the yellow jersey because Judith was in third place overall, only a little over two minutes behind.

Once Judith reached the break, her teammate Petra Rossner put the hammer down to cement the gap, hoping to help Judith ride into the yellow jersey. For nearly 10 kms Petra stayed on the front of the breakaway, totally sacrificing herself for the cause. After 10 kms when some undulations began, Petra blew and came back to the bunch. By this time, the gap was almost one minute and the Alfa Lum team were doing their best to chase. Edita Pucinskaite had realised the severity of the situation and she was helping the chase. This played into Lyne Bessette's hands perfectly. She was in second place overall and she sat and bided her time until the Alfa Lum team, including Edita in the yellow jersey, were starting to tire.

Then on a steep pinch she attacked with amazing strength and rode across a gap of 1 min 40 seconds by herself. Once she reached the breakaway she didn't even pause for breath but went straight to the front and continued to drive the pace. The constant high pace of the breakaway caused it to totally fragment. One by one riders were dropped. Debby Mansveld, Laure Werner, and the Ukraine rider all came back to the bunch.

In the end, only 4 riders arrived at the finish together - Olga Slioussareva took first, Julie Young second, Judith Arndt third and Lyne Bessette 4th. But Lyne's ride had placed her firmly in the yellow jersey, with Judith in second overall and Olga third. Edita finished 4 minutes 21 seconds behind the foursome, and in 4th place overall. Hayley Rutherford rode in alone for 5th place and took the young rider award for the stage.

So, a huge upset. But the next two days are particularly tough hilly days so the tour isn't over yet. No doubt Edita will come out firing tomorrow and try to take back the overall lead.