Petra Rossner: Queen of the Mountains
By Jeff Jones in Thredbo
The first round of the women's World Cup in the Snowy Mountains has finished with Saturn's sprinting superstar Petra Rossner taking line honours in front of Rochelle Gilmore (NSWIS) and Mirjam Melchers (Netherlands). These three were the best out of the front selection of 15 or so riders, whittled down from the 75 who started in Cooma.
It went, as Saturn team manager Giana Roberge told Cyclingnews afterwards, "according to one of the many plans." And with teammates Judith Arndt, Cathy Marsal, Kim Bruckner and Jessica Phillips all there in the front bunch to lead out Rossner, the plan did not fail.
"My teammates did an awesome job to bring me back all the time," said Rossner. "I could just take it easy over the hills and not hammer myself, because I know if I have to kill myself during the race then I don't have the kick for the sprint at the end anymore. They were still able to give me a leadout at the end and I was amazed."
"With a kilometre to go the pressure was up to here, because I knew they had done everything right and it was on me now to win the sprint and I was scared to death. I'm quite psyched now."
Few riders can get around Rossner in a sprint, even though it's March and she "doesn't enjoy sprinting that much at this time of year." Only last year's third place getter Rochelle Gilmore (NSWIS-Trek) got close, gluing herself to the German's back wheel with 100m to go but unable to go round.
The always consistent Mirjam Melchers was a little further back in third place, followed by Hayley Rutherford (AIS), Hanka Kupfernagel (Vlaanderen) and Priska Doppmann (International).
The outcome of the race was dictated by the tactics at the start, as the peloton rolled gently out of Cooma under cool, grey skies. The wind was in the riders' faces and no-one really wanted to attack until Olivia Gollan (AIS) took a flyer after 16 kilometres. She quickly gained time, with her gap reaching 2'40 before it stabilised thanks to the efforts from the Dutch team.
The peloton climbed Barney's Ridge (45.7 km, 1080 m) at a steady pace, not considering Gollan to be a serious threat to win the race. As they headed towards Jindabyne (km 70) the tempo picked up with Swiss International rider Priska Doppmann putting in several attacks to try and split the peloton. She succeeded, and each time the peloton would regroup with a few less riders.
Gollan's solo effort came to a conclusion after 57 kilometres battling the wind, being reabsorbed at the 73 kilometre point. By this stage, the only serious climb left was that of Ivo's Farm (km 84), a tough 2 kilometre drag with no let up. The peloton still had around 55 riders in it, but the elastic had been stretched too many times on the undulations beforehand, and only 25 were still in contention over the top.
The sun had broken through the clouds and the riders now had less than 20 kilometres to go until the finish. Along with the favourites Rossner, Gilmore and Melchers, there was a strong Saturn presence (Marsal, Bruckner, Arndt, Phillips), New Zealanders Melissa Holt, Kirsty Robb and Roz Reekie-May, Vlaanderen's Hanka Kupfernagel, Susanne Ljungskog and Heidi van der Vijver, International's Priska Doppmann, and Australian champions Margaret Hemsley and Hayley Rutherford.
With Rossner still in the peloton, the other riders knew they had to do something because the German would be unstoppable in a sprint. Fortunately for Rossner, all of the late attacks were chased down by her teammates, who then lifted the pace with 5 kilometres to go to prevent any further moves.
They kept up the tempo until the finish, leading out Rossner up the final pinch before the finishing straight. The German champion's jersey was clearly visible at the front as she stomped on the pedals a few times with 200m to go to ensure her victory. Even Rochelle Gilmore's late burst was not enough to get past Rossner's rear wheel, but she could certainly be satisfied with her surprising (and painful) result.
So as last year, Round 1 of the World Cup goes to Saturn. With Rossner likely to improve her form as the year goes on, it's going to be tough for the other World Cup challengers to get close to her. She's already taken a liking to her first World Cup jersey after conquering the Australian high country today.
Photography by Tom Balks
1 Petra Rossner (Ger) Saturn 3.14.25 (31.78 km/h) 2 Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 3 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) The Netherlands 4 Hayley Rutherford (Aus) AIS 5 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Vlaanderen 6 Priska Doppmann (Swi) International 7 Melissa Holt (NZl) New Zealand 8 Mari Holden (USA) Cannondale USA 9 Heidi Van De Vijver (Bel) Vlaanderen 10 Rosalind Reekie-May (NZl) New Zealand 11 Kym Shirley (Aus) Australian National Team 12 Judith Arndt (Ger) Saturn 13 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Vlaanderen 14 Kimberly Anderson (USA) Cannondale USA 15 Maragret Hemsley (Aus) Australian National Team 0.14 16 Kimberly Bruckner (USA) Saturn 0.38 17 Catherine Marsal (Fra) Saturn 18 Jessica Phillips (USA) Saturn 19 Naomi Williams (Aus) AIS 20 Emma James (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 0.46 21 Kirstie Robb (NZl) New Zealand 0.54 22 Olivia Gollan (Aus) AIS 1.49 23 Miho Oki (Jpn) Japan 1 2.00 24 Sue Thomas (GBr) International 25 Amy Safe (Aus) Australian National Team 2.17 26 Alison Wright (Aus) AIS 4.50 27 Madeleine Lindberg (Swe) International 28 Arenda Grimberg (Ned) The Netherlands 29 Sara Carrigan (Aus) AIS 30 Emma Rickards (Aus) Australian National Team 31 Jennifer Manefield (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 32 Debby Mansveld (Ned) Vlaanderen 33 Lorain Graham (Aus) Cycle Cooma 34 Liz Tadich (Aus) AIS 35 Helen Kelly (Aus) Australian National Team 36 Susie Wood (NZl) New Zealand 37 Ayumu Otsuka (Jpn) Japan 1 38 Julie Hooper (GBr) International 39 Claire Baxter (Aus) Southern Regional Team 40 Oenone Wood (Aus) Cycle Cooma 41 Nicky Solomon (NZl) New Zealand 42 Dorothy Cowden (USA) Cannondale USA 43 Elsbeth Vink (Ned) The Netherlands 44 Briget Evans (Aus) Cycle Cooma 45 Natalie Bates (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 46 Miyoko Karami (Jpn) Japan 2 47 Jodie Vaassen (WC) Northern Regional Team 48 Nicola Bedwell (GBr) International 49 Johanna Buick (NZl) International 50 Emily Williams (Aus) Cycle Cooma 51 Kristy Scrymgeour (Aus) Saturn 52 Katrina Berger (USA) Cannondale USA 9.53 53 Kanako Nishi (Jpn) Japan 2 54 Tamamo Nakamura (Jpn) Japan 1 55 Jacqueline Balancio (Aus) Southern Regional Team 56 Raeleigh Tennant (Aus) Cycle Cooma 9.57 57 Toni Bradshaw (NZl) New Zealand 58 Rebecca Cleveland (Aus) Southern Regional Team 59 Erin Philp (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 60 Vanessa Cheatley (NZl) Vlaanderen 9.57 61 Hiroko Shimada (Jpn) Japan 2 13.01 62 Alison Urquhart (Aus) Northern Regional Team 14.33 63 Anna Jones-Perrin (Aus) Northern Regional Team 64 Harue Kimura (Jpn) Japan 1 15.45 65 Liz Hickey (Aus) Cycle Cooma 18.06 66 Esther van der Helm (Ned) The Netherlands 18.18 67 Risa Sakaida (Jpn) Japan 2 68 Mary Lou Webb (Aus) Northern Regional Team 69 Josephine Groenveld (Ned) The Netherlands 33.23 70 Rebecca McConnell (Aus) Southern Regional Team 38.13 71 Katie Knight (Aus) Southern Regional Team 52.20 72 Helen Lee (Aus) Northern Regional Team 1.12.40 DNF Vanessa Crawford (Aus) Australian National Team
World Cup standings after round 1
1 Petra Rossner (Ger) Saturn 75 pts 2 Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 50 3 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) The Netherlands 35 4 Hayley Rutherford (Aus) AIS 30 5 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Vlaanderen 27 6 Priska Doppmann (Swi) International 24 7 Melissa Holt (NZl) New Zealand 21 8 Mari Holden (USA) Cannondale USA 18 9 Heidi Van De Vijver (Bel) Vlaanderen 15 10 Rosalind Reekie-May (NZl) New Zealand 11 11 Kym Shirley (Aus) Australian National Team 10 12 Judith Arndt (Ger) Saturn 9 13 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Vlaanderen 8 14 Kimberly Anderson (USA) Cannondale USA 7 15 Maragret Hemsley (Aus) Australian National Team 6 16 Kimberly Bruckner (USA) Saturn 5 17 Catherine Marsal (Fra) Saturn 4 18 Jessica Phillips (USA) Saturn 3 19 Naomi Williams (Aus) AIS 2 20 Emma James (Aus) NSWIS Trek Team 1