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The AIS Women's Team Diary 2003

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The team at Fleche Wallonne
Photo: © James Victor

Welcome to one of our more unusual diaries, with entries from the various members of the Australian Institute of Sport's Women's team as they conduct their European campaign.

With rising stars such as Oenone Wood and established power riders like Olivia Gollan, the team has been making a strong mark on the European scene this season. Under the management and coaching of James Victor that success looks set to continue for the year.

Trofeo Riviera della Versilia, Massarossa, Italy, June 8, 2003

Beating the early summer heat in Tuscany

By Oenone Wood

The Italian summer is starting to set in, with the temperature around 35 degrees in Massarossa, Toscana when we lined up for the 5th Trofeo Riviera della Versilia on Sunday.

The heat didn't appear to be much of a deterrent however, and the first 35km to the first climb was raced very aggressively. Small groups went off the front but nothing was allowed to stay away. The main aggressors in the early part of the race were Acca Due O Lorena, Aurora 2002 and our A.I.S. Australian team.

On to the first climb the pace was set by two riders from Aurora 2002, and by midway through the climb a lead group of 15 riders was established. As the climb kicked up again, this bunch was thinned out to five, including myself, Zinaida Stahurskaia, Marianna Lorenzoni, Vera Carrara and Luisa Tamanini.

This group stayed together to the second climb where the course turned on to a 17km circuit to be completed three times. The climb was about 3.5km long, with an average grade of six percent. With most of the climb exposed to the heat bearing down on us, Stahurskaia attacked with 500 metres left on the first ascent, splitting the group, and only I was able to stay with her until the start of the second ascent.

Stahurskaia led into the next climb, and by the top had attacked and opened a gap of 40 seconds. The race then became a time trial to the finish, and by the third ascent, Stahurskaia had a one minute lead on me, with a further minute gap back to Lorenzoni and Tamanini.

By the top of the climb Pucinskaite, Luperini and Parente had bridged up to Lorenzoni and Tamanini, with the gap from Stahurskaia to myself, and then back to the chasing group growing over the final kilometres.

At the bottom of the last descent we had a 10km flat stretch, with the leading riders remaining unchanged to the finish. The remaining bunches were really strung out as a result of the course and conditions, with some of the lead riders struggling into the finish, and large time gaps between groups.

Aussie Lorian Graham finished strongly, attacking her bunch over the final climb and time trialling to the finish and just outside the top 10.

Our team will now spend the next few weeks training in the mountains, in the preparation for what is expected to be a very tough start to the Giro in early July.

Conditions down south for the start are expected to be 40+ degrees, with category 1 climbs for the first four days.

Until next time,