New Zealand, March 18, 2001
Today we raced the NZ World Cup - the second of the nine World Cup races this year. It was held in Hamilton and we completed 17 laps of a 6.4km course. The course was a good one for me - quite a technical course with many sharp corners and endless little hills. The field was very small - only 48 riders started the race.
The New Zealanders were obviously very keen for a result on their home turf and they took it out very hard, with Kiwi after Kiwi attacking the bunch. Many little breakaway groups formed but without the right combination and they all came back to the bunch. Anke Erlank was doing a great job for me of chasing many little groups and being part of many others. After about 6 laps the pace settled down a little as the Kiwis began to tire.
We rode a couple of laps at an even tempo before Mirjam Melchers (Acca Due) put the hammer down on the steepest section of the course and formed a breakaway group of 5. It contained Mirjam Melchers, Sarah Ulmer (New Zealand), Sara Carrigan (Australia), Zinaida Stahurskaia (GAS) and myself. The only major team missing was Alfa Lum and they were chasing hard in the bunch behind. They got close and then Mari Holden (Alfa Lum) shot out of the bunch and put in a grim chase to close the gap to us. After several kms she made it across and the group was complete with 6 riders and all major teams represented. There was no one left in the bunch to mount a concerted chase and so we knew that the major placings would be fought out by the 6 of us.
We all worked together smoothly for another 40kms and then Melchers tested us all again on the steep climb. Her effort didn't succeed in unloading anyone from the break. Mari Holden tried several times in the final 3 laps to attack as she knew she was a slim chance for a result in a sprint finish. However, we were able to contain her attacks and we all approached the final couple of kms together.
I ended up on the front for the last 2 kms which I was a little nervous about. I gradually built up the speed as we approached the finish. Melchers was on my wheel and Zinaida and Mari Holden were having a battle for Melchers wheel. Zinaida became very aggressive, physically pushing Mari across the road. In the end, Mari started up the sprint at the 300 metre mark.
I jumped on her wheel and then started sprinting past her around 200 metres to go. I reached for a bigger gear and very quickly regretted it - I was sprinting in the 12 and felt like I was in slow motion. I saw Melchers wheel move up beside me and I thought I was going to lose it but I gave it my all and just held her and Zinaida off til the finish. YEEHA!!
So I took out the second World Cup and extended my lead in the overall competition. Now it's off to California to compete with a fuller Saturn team in the 3-day Sea Otter classic in Monterey, starting next Friday. That means I will miss the third World Cup race in Milan, next weekend. I just have to hope that the winner is someone who currently has no World Cup points!