The Tracey Gaudry Diary 1999

The Local East Coast Australian Time is

Tour de Suisse Feminin, Switzerland, September 22 - 25

The Tour de Suisse is our final racing campaign before the World Cup final (on Sunday Sept 25, the day after the tour) and the World Championships a week and a half later. Obviously our priorities (for the Aussies that is) are the latter two events, and this will be kept in mind each day. For me, this tour and the World Cup mark the completion of the 1999 season with Ebly.

All the stages are circuit races of between 12 and 20km, all with difficult climbs, narrow roads and technical descents. Over 130 riders fronted up for the Prologue on Wednesday, including all but a few of the major contenders for the World Championships.

Wednesday, Sept 22

Prologue: 2.4 km

A hot start to the Tour de Suisse as usual. A short climb at the start, leveling into a flattish straight, fast hotdog turn around and back to the finish! All over before you knew it. Hanka again, proved her consistent dominating form, winning easily (but literally cutting a few corners in doing so only incurring a fine!). I had a decent ride, not full of power, but finished credibly.

1       Kupfernagel, Hanka      2min46.10sec2       Bessette, Lyne          2min52.40sec3       Melchers, Miriam        2min52.64sec4       Wilson, Anna            2min52.72sec...8       Longo, Jeannie          2min56.3sec...16      Gaudry, Tracey          2min59.9sec...GC: as above

Stage 1: 110 km

Two hours later we fronted up for the first road stage, consisting of 9 laps of 12.3km circuit, with one major climb and a climb to the finish each lap. It was pretty hard for the first few laps, while I tried to resurrect my climbing legs of old - still buried somewhere! A Russian escaped in the early stages, and gained a couple of minutes before Longo put on the pace for a lap splitting the field and bringing the gap back. Eventually the Russian tired and was caught in the final few kilometres. The last time up the climb was furious, with the bunch splitting even further. Only 30 riders were left at the end, to contest the sprint. Vera proved again her form at present, putting a question mark over her non-selection in the German team for the World Championships. Moved up on GC due to a number of 'hitters' dropping back on the last climb. Good training anyhow.

1       Hohlfield, Vera         2h57m4s2       Corneo, Sigrid  "3       Ivanov Goulnara "...11      Gaudry, Tracey  "12-30   same time30-55   @30sec...GC1       Kupfernagel, Hanka      2hr59m50s2       Bessette, Lyne          @6s3       Melchers, Miriam        @6s...10      Gaudry, Tracey          @13s
Thursday, Sept 23

Stage 2: 109 km

The two hour transfer to the start turned out to be nearly three hours after our D-S (Director Sportif - a.k.a Jeannie's husband) had missed the turn off! We arrived with 15 minutes to get organised, on our bikes, sign on, and attempt to warm up. Alas, a shocking start to a very difficult circuit race with 5 x 22km laps and two Cat 1 climbs each lap. The first climb was only 2km into the race, so needless to say it was not looking good for me, with stiff legs from the car trip and no warmup!

As expected, I suffered immensely for the first lap, but retained contact with the bunch. The second lap was no better, and I was contemplating how much further I would go before DNF-ing (no that's not a four-letter word, but the abbreviation for Did Not Finish). Longo suffered a small crash up the 2nd climb on the 2nd lap (we didn't know as she was at the back and we do not have communication with our DS), and withdrew from the race shortly after, having no motivation to chase back to the peleton. Pity for her, as the mountainous terrain really suited her. Hanka Kupfernagel withdrew from the race after the end of the 2nd lap.

The third lap saw me sit up completely up the first major climb, ready to 'piano' for the remainder of the lap and pull out, or come in 20 minutes down. Sunday was looming closer. Over the top of the climb I had caught up to one of my Ebly compatriots, so I put on the pace down the descent to get her back to the convoy so she could get back into the race. We got to the convoy, but it was still hard, so I drove hard and got her to work as well. We ended up back in the bunch just before the 2nd climb of the lap! Hmmm, ok I'll just get over this hill. Surprisingly I was feeling better as my legs started to tolerate the lactic acid build up, and the blood was circulating fast. I figured I would be fine for the 4th lap and then only a lap to grovel over if the climbers went berserk at the end. I even launched a few attacks from here on, as did Anna (Wilson). Eventually she got away just before the last lap to get a gap up the final climb. It worked for her, enabling her to be with the lead climbers as Polkanova attacked hard, disintegrating the field. Only a dozen went over the top together. I was in the next dozen or so. Our bunch chased in an easy fashion, with no-one really interested. At the bottom of the final climb, we were about 300m behind the front group. Well this is it. As two riders went off the front of the front bunch, our chase bunch blew up as everyone put in a last ditch effort to get back in touch with riders ahead. Anna was coming back, suffering from her ballistic effort earlier, but getting valuable training benefit from her efforts. I got across with only 1.5km to go, thinking only of Montreal and being able to 'hurt' when it was really necessary. The result in the end was good, and put me in 4th position overall on General Classification. Darn, now I have to try hard tomorrow!

Stage:1       Polikevicuite, Rasa     3hrs15m54s2       Zabirova, Zoulfia               "3       Schnorf, Yvonne         @27sec...18      Gaudry, Tracey          "(3-19 same time)(20-26 @ 52 seconds)(huge gaps after that)GC:1       Zabirova, Zoulfia2       Polikevicuite, Rasa     @14 sec3       Heeb, Barbara           @26 sec4       Gaudry, Tracey          @29 sec
Friday, Sept 24

Stage 3: 10 km Individual Hill Climb Time Trial

The race bible estimated a 16km/hr average for this time trial! Need I say more? This was a pure climbers day - not for me at present. Still I had a long warmup (especially since my start time wasn't until 4.30pm) and attempted to get motivated. Legs were feeling very heavy, and even after a good solid warmup I was feeling flat. Suffering a bad back from the long 'each-way' transfers and an uncomfortable car, I was just a little worried as to how I would come out of today.

Jeannie had ridden up the climb and informed us that she rode up in the 19-21 cogs most of the way (going semi-hard), so we should be able to grind up in the 21 or peddle easily in the 23. Yeah, on a good day! With a 2 minute gap between each rider, my main aim was not to get caught by Barbara Heeb too early in the piece!

Oh dear, it was hard. The first 4km was hard, but contained a few false flat sections. Then it was $#%*@# steep for 3km, and the 25 cog was working overtime. A small respite and then the 2.5km grovel to the finish with the steepest section in the last 400m. I could hear Barbara's van horn blasting from 3km to go, but managed to hold her off until the final pinch. She actually thanked me later for digging deeper in the final section to make her push even harder - you're welcome Barbara, anytime! The assistant DS for Ebly later remarked that I would have ridden better if I didn't have the 25 cog - that is, you can only use what you have got. OK, give me mountain-goat legs and I'll use them any day.

Stage:1       Zabirova, Zoulfia               30min29.04s2       Polkanova, Valentina    @0.7sec3       ?5       Heeb, Barbara           @1min11s...25      Gaudry, Tracey          @3min26sGC1       Zabirova, Zoulfia2       Polkanova, Valentina3       ?4       Heeb, Barbara...18      Gaudry, Tracey...
Saturday, Sept 25

Stage 4: 106.4 km

Pelting rain on the window sill woke this morning. Hmmm, another factor to consider. Tomorrow was too important to risk being weary, getting a cold, worsening the back problem. For the first time this year I decided to DNS (Did Not Start), in order to be of optimum assistance to Anna for the World Cup tomorrow. Weather permitting I would have 'pianoed' my way through the race to have a 'semi-recovery' ride. From 130+ starters, only 80-odd still remained in the field after yesterday's time trial, an indication of the importance of the World Cup event, and the necessity to be at least a little 'fresh' for it.

So, I can't tell you much about the final stage. It appeared to be reasonably steady, with only the climbers going hard up the climb to gain Mountain Sprint points. The bunch had split at the end, but was still quite large. Of the huge field that started the tour only 53 finished, making this the highest attrition rate ever in an international women's race, especially considering it was only 4 days long.

Stage:1       Holfield, Vera2       Arndt, Judith3       Bessette, Lyne...Final GC1       Zabirova, Zoulfia2       Polkanova, Valentina3       Stiazhkina, Tatiana4       Heeb, Barbara
Tomorrow the Aussies have 'our' work cut out to snatch the lead from Hanka Kupfernagel in the final World Cup event. Anna can certainly win the series if we keep the race under control and she has better legs than Hanka on the day. Depending upon how much fuel I have at the end, and who is left in the peleton, I can still move back into 3rd overall for the series. Though it would say a lot for Australia to snare 1st and 3rd in the World Cup Series for 1999, it is of secondary importance to me personally and the team of course, and won't be considered until we have Anna's situation under control. It is going to be a BIG day at the office for the Aussies, with a very capable Anna in the box-seat.