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Anna Wilson

1999 Stage 6 winner: Anna Wilson (Aus)


Tour de Snowy Heading

Karen Kurreck's view

Stage 1    Stage 2    Stage 3    Stage 4    Stage 5    Stage 8    Stage 9

Stage 1

Greetings from down under! The 3rd annual Tour de Snowy started today with a 30km criterium in downtown Tumut. There are riders from 13 nations here and the race is a UCI 2.9.1 (top category for women). Timex and Saturn are here from the US as well as teams from Europe. I am racing on a North American composite team with 4 Canadians: Anne Samplonius, Erin Carter, Genivieve Jeanson and Sandy Espeth and another American, Susan Hefler.

Except for the Australians who have been racing all winter [note: it's been summer here], this is the first real race of the season for a lot of us. Temperature this afternoon was in the mid-90s and humid. I know that probably sounds wonderful to all of you suffering through winter right now, but it is definitely a shock to one's system coming from a cold climate!

The course was 4 corners with a slight uphill on one side and down the other. I managed to come down with a bit of a cold on the plane coming down here the day before yesterday so I've been taking it easy since I got here and wanted to sit in as much as possible the first stage or 2 to try to recover. It seemed other people had similar ideas since there is a lot of hard racing coming up.

The pace was fairly high, but not terribly aggressive until about 1/3 of the way through when Miriam Melchers from Holland attacked solo and opened up a gap that grew to about 20 sec. Saturn closed to within about 10 sec, but then sort of gave up and Miriam pulled away again. The Dutchies were doing a good job of blocking and the pack seemed to resign themselves to letting her go. The last couple of laps, Timex mounted enough of a chase to keep the gap manageable but Miriam held on for the win. Anna Wilson (Saturn) won the field sprint for 2nd, Mari Holden (Timex) was 3rd and I was 5th. For full results, go here. Right after the race I rode back to the hotel and jumped into the pool!! It felt wonderful!

Stage 2

Today was one of those days that one wishes never happened or that you could go back to bed and get up and start it over! It was a double day with a shorrt 43km road race in the morning and a 9km TT in the afternoon. The road race had a cat 2 climb of about 5km that started 10 km into the race. Warmup went fine, but when I started off the start line in the race, I immediately realized that my rear brake was rubbing and I was not going anywhere. I didn't know what happened but I stopped, recentered my break and was off again. Luckily it was a slow start, so getting back on was no problem. I decided then that I probably shouldn't use my rear brake unless I absolutely had to.

Things were still going fine up to the start of the climb at 10km. I was in the front 3rd of the pack and suddenly I see riders going down in front of me. I managed to avoid the pavement, but as I went by the crash, one rider knocked my rear wheel on her way to the ground. I accelerated away and realized that my brake was on again and I was going nowhere with a lot of effort. I stopped and tried adjusting the wheel in the dropouts and centering the break again but the wheel still wouldn't spin. I figured it must have been knocked out of true when I was hit. I tried riding it a bit but decided that there was no way I could finish on it. Unfortunately, I have no quick release on my rear brake because I have a Shimano rear break/shift lever and Campy brakes (another long story). Shimano puts the QR on the break, Campy puts it on the lever... I had to wait awhile for a wheel change since all the support vehicles were stuck behind the crash.

I started chasing with a new wheel and eventually caught some other riders who had crashed. It was pretty much the worst possible time to crash or have a mechanical - right at the base of the climb. We finally caught the 2nd main group shortly after the top of the climb, but the front group was still up ahead. It was up and down all the way but we had a bit more horsepower now. I was struggling at this point. We finally caught the caravan of the front group. Our group was pretty strung out and all of a sudden I see Mari stopped at the side of the road (she told me later her chain rings fell off!!). I was squeezed between Mari and the caravan cars and had to brake pretty hard and lost contact with the front riders of my chase group. There was another uphill and I just couldn't close the gap. The pack pulled away again but I couldn't do anything about it. I was alone for awhile and then out of nowhere I see a race van go flying by with Mari tucked in tight behind it! It was a frustrating sight. Everyone tries to draft the vehicles whenever they can get away with it and our group got a bit of help earlier here and there from various vehicles, but with the hills it wasn't quite as effective. Technically drafting any vehicle is illegal, but every race is different as to how much it is enforced. It can be anything from just looking the other way (as seems to be the case here) to an automatic DQ. The commisaires are always a bit more lenient with crashes or mechanicals than with riders just getting dropped.

Moments later, I get caught by a group including the remnants of my old group and Mari's 2 teammates, Kim and Sanna who had gone back to help her! It was pretty hopeless for us - the front group was out of sight and there was only about 10km to go. We ended up losing about 3-4 minutes by the finish. I was not feeling good at all. After I stopped at the finish, I looked at my rear wheel and tried to spin it. It moved about 2 inches!! I suppose it was a small relief to see that there was something wrong with my bike, not just my legs, but it was still frustrating to see any hope of a GC placing go down the drain. The mechanic said later that my brake cable was binding and whenever I used the rear brake it didn't release. Oh well, this is bike racing and bad stuff happens to everyone at one time or another.

I started feeling really dizzy and queasy after the finish also. I think the heat along with my cold and about an hour of maximal effort had taken its toll. I didn't drink nearly enough because I was riding so hard. I tried drinking and lying down in the shade for awhile and eventually the medical personnel took me to their facility. There wasn't much they could do since I had to race the TT in about an hour and a half. I just tried to drink as much as possible and rested for awhile. I knew things weren't right when even after lying down for an hour, my heart rate was still in the 90s!

As for the race, I really don't know much about it since I never saw the front group. I know it was an uphill field sprint won by Anna Wilson. Sara Ullmer was 2nd and Mari Holden was 3rd. Anna Wilson took over the overall lead with her time bonus.

Stage 3

Stage 3 was a TT. Last year the TT was in the same place and was basically a hillclimb. I lugged my TT bike all the way to Australia and ended up using my road bike. I wrote the race promotor a few weeks ago and asked if the TT was the same. He said yes. Well it turned out that only a couple of weeks ago, the police vetoed the course and it became a flat out and back TT! It was perfect for a TT bike and disk wheels which I didn't bring! The Aussies of course were fully loaded with TT equipment as well as some of the Saturn and Timex team who must have gotten word from their Aussie teammates. Some people who didn't do the race last year just saw there was a TT stage and brought TT equipment automatically. Sometimes too much prior knowledge is a bad thing!

The course was tough with a slight downhill and tailwind on the way out and false flat/headwind on the way back. The roads here are also very slow - the stones they use in the asphalt are much larger than in the US, making them very rough. The Aussies are all preparing for their national TT Championships in a couple of weeks and Australia took the top 4 places with Kristy Scrymegeour (AIS, '99 Australian national TT champ) taking the win. She was followed by Tracy Gaudry (Timex), Juanita Feldhan (AIS) and Anna Wilson. First year Sr. Genevieve Jeanson (Canada) took 5th. I ended up 12th, which was respectable, I suppose, given the circumstances, but not exactly a result I'm proud of. Nobody on road equipment cracked the top 10. Anna retained the overall lead.

Tomorrow is the toughest stage of the tour with a steep 5-6km hillclimb finish.

Stage 4

Well, when it comes to bad luck, it seems when it rains, it pours. I think this is just not my race this year! Today was the toughest and longest stage of the tour. It was pretty much all up and down with mostly up and finishing with a steep 7km climb followed by about 5 km of more gradual up and false flat. It took about 4 hrs to do 110km!

3 times during warmup, I checked my brake to make sure it wasn't rubbing. On the start line I spun the wheel just to make sure. Then, the gun goes off, I stand up and go and lo and behold, I've got my brake on! I stopped and recentered it and wondered how I was going to manage the descents without using my rear brake... Oh well, you can't worry too much about the future in a bike race. Things were going OK until about the 30km mark. A break got off with Odessa Gunn, Liz Tadich and a Dutch rider. Nobody seemed too concerned and they gained up to about 2:45 at one point. They came back once the hills started though.

On the first real uphill, I stood up and bam - my brake goes on again. I tried to pedal enough just to get to the side of the road and my cranks lock and I almost go over the bars. My rear wheel had come out of the dropout and chain, derailler and cogs were intertwined! Yes, I did check my skewer before the start.... Luckily nobody ran into me. I tightened the skewer a few as much as I could (not much), re-centered the brake and our mechanic came up and detangled the chain and I was off chasing again. By this time it is dawning on me that somehow standing up is causing my frame to flex which is what is causing my brake to rub. I just wished this had dawned on me last night...

I get back to the pack and try to stay seated and accelerate as gingerly as possible. After a few kms, we hit another climb. I feel resistance again. This time it is my front tire that is flat! I go to the side of the road and get a wheel change. While we are at it, our mechanic loosens by brake all the way out so it hopefully won't rub anymore. I chase again. I'm getting to know the caravan really well in this race! I get back on and soon the real climbing begins.

We hit a long, step hill that is a warmup for the upcoming long, steep QOM hill. The first climb splits the group and we are a group of 15-20 at the bottom of the QOM hill. I am not feeling good at all. I woke up congested this morning and with a headache, probably due to dehydrating myself yesterday. I drank as much as I could all afternoon and evening yesterday, but I just wasn't absorbing it. My GC is already shot and I know I'm not going to make it up the finish climb for a stage win so I decide to try to recover for the later stages. Sometimes when things aren't right, it just doesn't pay to force it. I have learned this the hard way!

We have a group of 4 for quite awhile, but we aren't very organized and get caught by a big group from behind. We are basically just riding to finish. I kept drinking and I actually felt somewhat decent on the finish climb (or at least as good as one can feel while grinding away in a 39x25 in the heat...). I dropped most of my group but the race was long up the road.

I don't know much about what happened up front, except that Jr. World Champ Genevieve Jeanson rode away on the first QOM at 50km. She won the stage by almost 2 min over Tracy Gaudry who also got away on the first QOM and rode 60+ km alone. A break of 5 or 6 got away after that, including Anna, Dede and Mari. Australian Kim Shirley rode away from that group on the final climb and was 3rd, 6-7 min down. Time gaps were huge! I think I lost about 18 min and moved up 40 places on GC.

Tomorrow is an easier stage and the medical personnel here put me on antibiotics to clear up my chest (they said I had a bit of bronchitis). Now that we know what is causing my brake problems, hopefully they can be fixed. Hopefully I can recover a bit and things will get better. I keep telling myself what good training this race is....

Stage 5

The good news is I made it through a stage without ever seeing the caravan! We figured out the problems with my bike. Basically the brake bolt on the side caliper of my rear brake is rather large and was butted up against my seat stay. When the frame flexed, the brake bound. It didn't happen at home training this winter because I had a bracket on my brake bolt for a fender that spaced the brake out enough. I put spacers in when I removed the fender before I left home, but not enough... As for the rear wheel, it turned out that the dropout plates that are bolted to the frame were a bit loose and this may have been enough to allow the rear wheel to slip. I guess I'm lucky it didn't cause a crash.

BTW, I also re-read my race bible and saw that riders who suffer a mishap or crash are supposed to get paced up to the rear of the caravan. This is not normal UCI rules, but in this race, if you can find a vehicle, you can draft it. They can't always look after everyone though, especially in big crashes. I'm basically an add-on to the Canadian team, so our driver's first proiority has to be with the Canadians. They do help me whenever they can though, especially yesterday. I guess the draft rule also doesn't apply to teammates who go back to help a rider with a mishap.

Anyway, back to today's stage. In a vast change of conditions, today was cold and raining. Kind of a shock after all the heat we've had so far. The stage was relatively short - 84km and lots of rollers, but no climbs more than a couple of km. There was one cat 3 climb. There was also quite a bit of wind. For me, it was about as close as one can get to a rest day in a stage race.

Less than 15km into the race, a group of 8 got away. Most of the big teams and GC riders seemed content with the combo. They gained about 2 min pretty quickly. Saturn had Suzy Pryde, Timex had Kim Smith and Canada had Anne Samplonius. The Dutchies also had a rider in the break, but appearantly weren't happy with her chances of winning because they chased a bit and tried to bridge more riders up. Eventually, another group of 4 including Mirjam Melchers got away. Now even the Dutch were happy. The 4 eventually caught the front 8 and with about 15 km to go, the break had 4 1/2 min! Timex got nervous about the gap and started chasing. By the finish, the gap was about 2:40 and Mirjam attacked the break near the finish and won her 2nd stage of the tour by about 5 sec. I'm not sure about the rest of the placings - Suzy was 3rd and Anne was 6th. Results here.

Stage 8

Today is another double day in the rain. Ironically, there has been a drought here for a long time. At the start line it was 4 degrees C (about 40) and a light rain which soon turned to heavy rain. I am eating all my words about complaining about the heat!

The morning stage was 98km with 2 cat 2 QOMs. The 2nd half of the race was more down than up. Fairly early on we had a stretch of dirt which was kind of sketchy. We all exited that section covered with mud from head to toe. The good part about the rain is it sort of cleaned us up!

The whole race was agressive with Tracy trying to get away from Genevieve reapeatedly but Genevieve was stuck to her like a magnet. Lots of others were looking for a stage win. We split on the climbs, but a pretty large group caught back on in the 2nd half. It was non stop attacks after that. Finally, about 15km from the finish, a group of 7 got away. Kim and Mari were there for Timex, Erin Carter from Canada and some others. Saturn was really the only team interested in chasing but nobody else was too anxious to help Anna get a 4th stage win. 3 riders got dropped from the break and we caught them, leaving only Sara Carrigan (AIS), Erin, Mari and a Dutch rider up the road.

They never got out of sight but they still had 15-20 sec or so by the end. Sara attacked on the last little climb before the finish and held on for the stage win. I'm not sure about the other placings. There were lots of turns leading into the finish and nobody in the main group wanted to take any chances for 5th place so we all finished safely. In another few hours, we have to go out again for the final stage - a 30km criterium. It is still pouring rain...

Stage 9

Lucky for us, the rain stopped about an hour before the start of the criterium. The roads were still a bit wet but not too bad. The worst part was putting on wet shoes and helmets. They shortened the course a bit, eliminating a tight turn because of the rain. That made for a very short course - only about 700m and 4 corners. There wasn't really much space to do a lot.

After only a couple of laps, Odessa Gunn attacked, taking 2 Dutch riders, and Alison Wright (AIS) with her. The Dutch and AIS were blocking pretty effectively and the gap grew to about 20 sec. and pretty much stayed there until a few laps to go when it started to shrink. With 2 laps to go, we could see the break on the straightaways and on the last lap, they were only a few seconds away.

I tried to bridge on the uphill stretch on the last lap but didn't quite make it and was caught with 3 corners to go. I figured I might as well stay in front for safety reasons which turned out to be a good call since there were 2 crashes on the last lap. One was in the break. Tracy and Katja Longhin came around me in the pack sprint and when we crossed the line, there was a bike lying across it!! Tracy just passed the last rider in the break to take what we thought was 4th but it turned out that the first rider across the line Mirella Van Melis was DQed from the race and fined 200 SF for taking Alison into the barricade in the breakaway sprint, causing Alison to go down. Alison was given the stage win and Odessa was 2nd. A Japanese rider went down in the pack on the back stretch taking 1 or 2 others down with her.

Overall was unchanged with Geniviève keeping her lead. Tracy Gaudry was 2nd and Anna Wilson 3rd. Geniviève also won the QOM competition over Tracy. Anna won the points jersey. With the UCI points she gained here, Anna Wilson moved into the number 1 spot in the world rankings.



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