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Photo ©: Sirotti

Photo: © Rob Karman

The Anna Millward Diary

Australian Anna Millward (Wilson until her marriage in 2000) is one of the best women's cyclists in the world, and was ranked number 1 for the first part of 2000. She has won races everywhere, from time trials in France, World Cup races in Switzerland to stage races in the USA, and was the first cyclist ever to break the Hour Record under the "new" UCI rules. Anna possesses an incredible sprint and this combined with her power and determination makes her a formidable cyclist on any terrain. She is also one of the friendliest and most optimistic people you could ever meet.

Anna's Grand Boucle Féminine diary

Anna's bête noire returns

The last two days have been the hardest of the tour, with many mountain passes to cross.

Stage 7 - August 10: Aix les Bains - Courchevel, 134 km

Yesterday we raced 140km, over the col de la Madeleine (1900 metres), down the other side and then up to Courchevel, with a couple of fourth category climbs thrown in for good measure. We started the day with Judith Arndt (Saturn) in yellow and Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn) in fourth place overall - not bad going. Petra Rossner (Saturn) started the day but soon pulled out as she was not feeling well.

We passed a couple of climbs which thinned the bunch down a little and then we hit a climb that had mysteriously disappeared from the course profile and Rasa Polikevicuite (Acca Due O) attacked.

Ina Teutenberg (Saturn) went straight to the front to chase and I would have followed her except that I was in some difficulty on the climb so I waited til the summit before I made it to the front. Ina and I chased until we caught Rasa and by that time the bunch had been reduced to about 20 riders, with both Judith and Kimberly sitting comfortably. Ina and I decided to keep the pace going to the base of the col de la Madeleine.

Once we hit the climb, Ina and I both sat up to ride our own tempo to the finish of the stage and wished our two climbers good luck. Up the Madeleine, five riders set a pace which the others could not match - Zinaida Stahurskaia (Chirio), Nicole Brandli (Acca Due O), Edita Pucinskaite (Figurella), Suzanne Ljungskog (Vlaanderen) and Joane Somarriba (Deia Pragma Colnago). Judith Arndt (Saturn) in the yellow jersey reached the top around three minutes behind the five leaders but put in an impressive descent to close the gap to 1:20. Before the final climb, she caught Valentina Polkanova (Itera). By this stage, Judith was running out of fuel and she wasn't able to contribute much to the chase. In the final 2km, she couldn't hold on to Polkanova any longer and at the finish line, she was six minutes down on the leaders. So, the yellow leader's jersey switched shoulders, to Zinaida Stahurskaia (Chirio) and Judith was 4 minutes behind overall.

Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn) also lost some ground to the leaders, finishing in 12th place, about 14 minutes behind. That moved her to 8th place overall.

Meanwhile, up the final climb, my right leg packed it in once again due to the injury which I just can't seem to get rid of right now. Ina had to push me up half of the last climb because my leg became so bad. So, that basically ended my tour and ended my season. I have made the decision to stop fighting the injury and just go home and give it a big long rest and see if I can't make something good out of next year.


Stage 8 - August 11: Courchevel - Vaujany, 113.6km

So, today on the Tour de France, I became the helper and watched the girls suffer through another long, wet and cold mountain stage. Judith and Kimberly both impressed me again, staying with the front group all the way back up the other side of the col de la Madeleine. Kimberly lost contact on the descent because she was frozen so cold she couldn't think straight any more. Judith stayed with the remaining nine leaders until 5km from the top of the next climb and then put in a solo pursuit for the remainder of the stage, finishing in eighth place, around six minutes down. Zinaida Stahurskaia retained the yellow jersey and Judith is now a total of nine minutes behind, in seventh place overall.

Kimberly also chased solo for much of the stage and finished in 12th place, about 12 minutes down. She is now 10th overall. The time gaps may sound huge but you should see the size of the mountains these girls are racing over. To give you some idea, I finished 56 minutes behind the leaders yesterday!

We lost one more Saturn rider as Kim Davidge had to pull out of the tour as well, so now there are just four girls left racing for the team here.

My tour is over but there are another six days of racing to follow, after the rest day tomorrow.


Photo: © Rob Karman