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The Emma James Diary 2002
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's newest female diarist, Australian Emma James. Emma's enjoying her first year as a scholarship holder with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) road cycling team, managed by coach James Victor. She's a gutsy rider who's decided that she'd rather be testing the waters of professional cycling than testing the salinity of the Sydney's waterways as an environmental scientist - which used to be her previous occupation before Emma decided to take the plunge.
Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!
June 20, 2002
An Australian 1-2-3 at the Coppa del Nazioni - Bellissima! Over to you Emma...
Finally a cheerful race report!
On Saturday (June 15), we had an 18km time trial called the Coppa delle Nazioni. It was held in a beautiful valley in Aosta, in the very north-western corner of Italy, only 100kms from the Mont Blanc tunnel and border with France. Some of the steep mountains on either side of the valley were snow capped, and the older houses in the valley had really big stone/slate type tiles on the roofs - a wonderful, scenic location.
The course was predominantly along the fast, undulating, main road through the valley, but with a moderate 2km climb through a town on a smaller road, a not particularly technical decent (but really rough, and pot holed) and finally a decent 3km climb up towards the finish in Chatillon. The U23 men had another two hard climbs at the start of their course, and the professional men had an even longer and tougher course, but finishing on the same roads as our race.
The previous day, we drove for four hours from Novellara to Chantillon, and then went for a ride over the course in really hot and windy conditions. A recently resurfaced road that was going to be used in the men's course was softening in the heat, and the tarmac was sticking to our tyres as we rode over it. Additional road works further down the descent made me glad our course started 10km down the road!
After dinner we drove over the course again, and before the start we rode the main descent for our race on the time trial bikes. There were riders from good teams like Acca Due and Itera, but most of the top women cyclists are competing in the HP Women's Challenge in America at the moment. The field was much weaker than in previous years. Warming up was not ideal with two ergo's and three riders, but the Ti-sports time trial bikes are amazing and certainly gave us an advantage over the other riders.
I caught the Itera rider who started one minute ahead of me after about 5k. The climb was not too bad; I was using a fairly large gear for most of it (53x19). The descent was OK - I had to ease up a little, but didn't need to brake for the corners. The final stretch along the valley went very quickly, with the 2-3k climb to the finish really taking the last bit out of me.
I finished in second place in 27.03 (averaging about 40km/h). Olivia Gollan, also with the AIS, finished 1st in 26.41, and the other rider with our team, Oenone Wood, was third, with 27.04. Everyone was very happy with the team - having all of us on the podium looked great! The prize money was very good ($700, $400, $300 or thereabouts for 1st, 2nd and 3rd), and UCI points were given for this race too. We all were given lovely wooden urns - hopefully not required for my ashes in the near future!
Lee Godfrey (from the AIS U23 squad) came 2nd in the U23 division, which was an awesome result. Nathan O'Neill rode the professional race, and finished about 5th, behind Gontchar (Fasso Bortolo), Bodrogi (Mapei) and ahead of Savoldelli, and Tafi.
The drive back along the Italian motorway was quick: 130-150kms/h for most of it! We were taken out for a wonderful dinner at a good local restaurant, enjoying the specialities of the region. Lambrusco from Reggio Emilia, interesting raw vegies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and beautiful tortellini (large pasta parcels stuffed with a sweet pumpkin/potato or a spinach/ricotta type filling). Special breads, with quality prosciutto, salami and soft cheese to accompany the main meal, and a wonderful sorbet to finish.
After rain all day in a race a week ago, the weather has just started to get hotter. The last couple of days have been intensely hot, and although I can't understand exactly what the Italians are saying, it is getting a mention on TV as people play in fountains and search out the shade. Sleeping at night is only possible with a fan - I may move to the lower level of the house for the next couple of nights.
Most of the team is up at Livigno (in the Dolomites) for the Commonwealth Games training camp and also to visit socially and shop.
Our next race is at the end of the week, the 3-day hilly tour of Trentino.
Hope you are all well,
Emma's racing exploits in 2002