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Time for a change: The Kimberly Bruckner Journal 2003

Last year the 2001 US Road Champion Kimberly Bruckner left the number one ranked women's team in the US after two years with Saturn and joined the growing force that is Team T-Mobile. With her sights firmly set on the Worlds in Hamilton and the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, Kimberly's diary is sure to provide compelling reading.

Slight Chaos at Amstel Gold

April 20, 2003

It's rare that both a men's and a women's World Cup are held in the same place on the same day. Today was one of those occasions. And - wow! Throw in a pro men's race and the cycling fans just come out of the woodwork. It was nuts around the race site. We were in bumper to bumper traffic, lined up behind the CSC bus (where's Tyler?), and there were people everywhere. It was as if we were at the World Championships. The funny thing was that we had borrowed one of the Team Telekom Audi wagons, so people kept looking in our windows hoping to see a glimpse of Erik Zabel. When they saw it was just a bunch of pink-clad women, they quickly turned away. They probably thought we were the podium girls or something.

Once we finally parked, us girls quickly got out of the Telekom car and started searching for some bathrooms. Almost immediately, an older gentleman came up to us asking about our teammate Kristin Armstrong. He wanted to know if she was Lance's wife. It's amazing how many people ask her that. Kristin wanted to wait around after the race at the Postal bus in hopes of finally meeting her 'husband' but unfortunately, we didn't have the time today.

The men started off at 10am. A very large field of 165 women started off at 11am. The race organizers wanted us finished long before the men came in, so they squeezed us in there somehow. However the men were racing rather slowly while the women were racing faster than expected today. So they ended up having the women take a detour and shortened our course by 10km so that we wouldn't run into the men.

Our original race course was 115km with several short, steep climbs. Holland is typically pancake flat. I always feel like I'm riding the rollers when I head out on a ride, but this area of Holland around Maastricht is rather rolling with a lot of steep little climbs thrown in for variety. It makes for a tough World Cup course.

There's no single stand-out rider this year in the women's World Cup so far. After three rounds in Australia, Italy, and Spain, the leader going into Amstel was Sara Carrigan, an Aussie on the Power Plate-Bik team. Zoulfia Zabirova is also a top contender after having won the Italian World Cup, the Primavera Rosa, and finishing well in the Spanish World Cup. So both Zoula's team and the Power-Plate team were often at the front today keeping the pace high. The first 40km flew by, or so I thought. Of course there was the usual sketchiness in the bunch, with a lot of sudden braking going on and the smell of burning rubber in the air. And I was quickly reminded of how many Italians were in the bunch with them all yelling, "Occhio! Occhio!" (attention!) As if we had anywhere else to go.

I swear this one Dutch girl had it out for me. I don't know why she thought I was always in her way, but she stiff-armed me twice, shoving me out of her way. And we were mid-pack at that point. It wasn't as if I was keeping her from first position or anything.

I thought girls would try to break away on some of the climbs, and a few did, but nothing got very far with other teams intent on controlling the race. Our team had pre-ridden the entire course on Thursday so we knew where each and every climb was. Apparently some of the other girls did not. About 12km from the finish was a super steep and narrow, repeat narrow, climb. We came into it by speeding downhill for a few kilometers and then taking a sharp left straight into the climb. Our team all came into the climb in pretty good position, but apparently not far enough near the front, because as soon as we turned into the climb, girls started turning into each other, stuck in their big chain rings, not able to go anywhere. Slight chaos.

The two girls in front of me ran into each other and I had nowhere to go but into a bush. I just tipped over into it. I had to unclip one foot and push my way up the climb to a point where I could finally clip back in and try to start climbing again. The same thing happened to many girls behind me, including many of my teammates. Luckily, Amber and Kim were able to sneak by everyone and make it up the climb with the front group.

As I finally crested the climb, frantically trying to chase back on, I could see a group of about 20-30 girls not too far ahead of me. But just far enough. My group of about seven girls, including my teammate Kristin, chased to catch back on, but it was not a very concerted, nor organized effort.

The finish line came at the top of a 1km climb and we could see Amber and Kim ahead of us lining up for the finish. But we just couldn't reach them in time to help. As I was finishing my final kilometer, I could hear Nicole Cooke's name being announced over the loudspeaker as the winner. Olivia Gollan from the Australian Institute of Sport was second. I'm not sure I heard third place correctly, so I won't even try and mention it. It wasn't a great finish for our team but I think with each and every race we learn. We all felt like we had good legs today, which bodes well for Fleche Wallone, the Belgian World Cup to be contested this Wednesday, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that things will go better for us there. Happy Easter!

Talk to you soon,