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T-Mobile International - 1.3
San Francisco, USA, September 12, 2004
Cooke to defend title
By Kristy Scrymgeour
Nicole Cooke (Safi Pasta Zara Manhattan) will arrive on US shores tomorrow in time to defend her title at the T-Mobile International presented by BMC software which takes place early on Sunday morning. Challenging her on the start line will be 22 teams that will make up 139 riders for the second annual womens race in San Francisco.
Despite not being able to race a full season this year due to injury, Cooke came back onto the scene in winning style to take out the overall classification at the Giro dItalia. Her recent form in the Holland Ladies Tour again proves she is ready to defend her title.
Cooke enjoyed the course last year, telling the crowd after the race that they were just amazing. It was very nice to ride in this atmosphere, she said. This course suited me perfectly and it was my plan to use the hills to my advantage.
Cooke will again use the hills to her advantage, joined by her teammate Diana Ziluite who was very active last year until a crash caused her withdraw, with the added bonus that the hills are closer together this year due to a section of the course that has been chopped out. In total the women will race 86.2km that will include two start laps of 2.1km each followed by five main laps of 14.8 km each and finally an 8km-finishing lap.
The course starts and finishes on the Embarcadero and covers terrain through North Beach over the daunting climb of Fillmore street and back through Russian Hill and North Beach where they hit the second challenging climb of the day up Taylor street.
The final eight kilometre lap will take them one last time up Taylor street for a total of six times before they head back to the embarcadero for the finish.
Challenging the Safi Pasta team will be the likes of Olympic Medallist Dede Barry who will line up with her strong T-Mobile team. With their title sponsor also being the sponsor of the race, the team will be hoping to take a win on Sunday. As well as Barry, they bring to the table Kristin Armstrong who joined Barry at the Olympics, renowned climber Kimberly Bruckner and recent winner of the Estes Park Tour Kim Anderson, among others.
One rider, certainly picked as a favourite is Christine Thorburn who rode well in Athens to take fourth place in the time trial and will be joined by the rest of her team, who are also local to San Francisco do better her sixth place performance from last year.
Canadian Olympian Lyne Bessette will be on the start line with her Quark team, as will Sandy Espeseth along and Nicole Demars riding for Victory Brewing, joined by the Lithuanian twins, Jolanta and Rasa Polikeviciute. A surprise entry in former Canadian Olympian Linda Jackson is also on the start list riding for Palo Alto and will test her climbing legs on the steep streets of San Francisco.
One can never count out the team who currently leads the National Racing Calendar, Genesis Scuba who will be hoping to get their climber Sue Palmer-Komar on the podium. Palmer Komar placed eighth in this race last year and has recently returned from the Olympics where she featured in a major break solo break in the road race.
A host of other US team are on the start list including some new names to the circuit. Wenzel Coaching have entered a team and will line up with five riders; and the Seattle based Wines of Washington team are excited to be one of the only regional teams invited to the event.