The season is getting very tactical for Anna Millward as she balances maintaining her World Cup lead and assisting the ambitions of team-mates like Petra Rossner who was going for a fifth consecutive win in the First Union Liberty Classic.
Philadelphia, PA, June 10, 2001
Today we raced the Philadelphia World Cup: 5 laps of a 24km circuit in Philly. It was one of the most beautiful races of the year for the Saturn women a perfect result for us. All due to some fantastic teamwork.
We had a very ambitious plan going into the race. Petra Rossner has won the race four times already and she was our best chance to win this year. The race is a very important one for the Saturn team so our first priority was to win and that made Petra our number one rider. However, because it is also a world cup race, I needed to gain some world cup points as well, and had to make sure I finished ahead of my major challenger in the world cup, Miriam Melchers. We were a little scared that maybe we were aiming for too much in the race and that it might all collapse around our ears!
Riding in support of us was Ina Teutenberg, Suzanne Sonye, Kristy Scrymgeour and Lyne Bessette. The first lap was fairly mellow until we hit "the wall", a steep 1 km pinch at the far end of the course. Over the top we had a little break with four Acca Due riders, including Miriam Melchers, Lyne Bessette and myself. Lyne had to take charge over the top to keep things under control until we were rejoined by the pack and our other teammates could help out. The second and third lap things really fired up with the Autotrader team, the Dutch National and the Intersports team in particular doing everything they could to break things up. We managed to place a rider in everything that moved and with a Saturn rider in the break and not willing to work, the breaks came back pretty fast. Over the wall for the third time another small group of riders had a gap. This time there were three Acca Due riders, including Melchers, Lyne and I from Saturn, Suzanne Ljonskog from Vlaanderen and Ceris Gilfillan from Great Britain. There were a few counter attacks from Acca Due and one of the twins Rasa or Jolanta Polikevicuite got a small gap and Lyne was chasing her down when the Acca Due rider hit one of the big man holes in the road and lost control of her bike. She hit the road quite hard and tumbled for quite a while since she had a lot of speed. It made us all cringe a little to watch it. Fortunately, the rest of us were able to avoid her.
Once again, we were caught by the pack. It began to tire our team out to be under attack so much and so once we were over the wall for the fourth time, Ina, Kristy and Suzanne started riding a hard tempo at the front to discourage more attacks.
Around this time, Miriam Melchers punctured and Vera Hohlfield gave her a wheel, or a bike and the Acca Due team did a great job of getting Miriam back to the bunch in quick time but in the process they lost Vera Hohlfield. They were now down to 4 riders. The final time up the wall was actually one of the easiest and almost all the bunch crested together. However, we lost our workers Kristy, Ina and Suzanne so we were left with Lyne to do the work for the final half lap and Petra and I were there for the sprint.
The remaining Acca Due riders did a great job of keeping things together and setting a fast pace into the sprint. Lyne, Petra and I all had good position with 2km to go but as we approached the big roundabout with 1 km to go I got shuffled backwards and started to panic a little. Lucky for me, with the speed around the roundabout, there was a little bit of room left on the inside and I was able to sneak up the inside and onto the back of the Acca Due train with around 700 metres to go. I could see Petra, perfectly positioned in about 3rd wheel at this point and I was trying desperately to get to her. The Acca Due train took me a bit further up and then with 300 metres to go things seemed to open up in front of me. I found Petra with 200 to go and yelled at her to "GO" as I saw Miriam Melchers begin her sprint on the right side of the road. Petra went left and with a maximum effort I was just able to grab her draft in the sprint and follow her to the line. Petra won easily and with her assistance I got second and held the overall lead in the World Cup. We were ecstatic over the finish line and so proud of the effort of the entire team.
Now it's off to Idaho for the start of the 12-day Hewlett Packard race on Wednesday.