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The Emma James Diary 2002
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's newest female diarist, Australian Emma James. Emma's enjoying her first year as a scholarship holder with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) road cycling team, managed by coach James Victor. She's a gutsy rider who's decided that she'd rather be testing the waters of professional cycling than testing the salinity of the Sydney's waterways as an environmental scientist - which used to be her previous occupation before Emma decided to take the plunge.
La Grande Boucle Féminine
Stage 6 - August 9: Lyon - Villard de Lans, 125.4 km
Suffering Lido dancer wins Elegance prize?
Leaving Lyon, the weather was OK - a little cool, but no rain in sight. We started with a few laps, up and back, doing U-turns around the median strip in front of the podium set up for the depart. Finally we headed off and after the neutral was over, the US national team started attacking (team T-mobile with Mari Holden and Dede Demet, in the same colours as Team Deutsche Telekom, and with J-P van Poppel as DS).
There were a fair few crashes in the first 15km, often just after roundabouts. I learnt from last year to expect more central islands after you see the policemen warning you about the first one. I managed to avoid all the crashes, but probably used up a few of my lives (if we started with nine like cats, I'll be running short before the end of the tour!).
The first Cat 4 mountain sprint was not very eventful, but the next two at around the 65km mark split the field up for a while. I chased back to the group with a little Farm Frites train looking after Melchers who may have had trouble (puncture?) before the climb. Somarriba had a puncture on the climb, and was also being assisted at the rear of the peloton. I wasn't feeling great on the climb, and was glad to get back to the bunch after the second climb. Brandli put the pressure on up the climb, but Zinaida Stahurskaia claimed most of the mountain points for the day, and is still in the mountain jersey.
Not too long later there was a long descent. Van Moorsel dropped back a little to checkout how well the riders mid field were descending. On the descent Cathy Marsal (Saturn) and Grimberg (FarmFrites) got away. They were joined by Bahler, Chantal Beltman, Cindy Pieters, D'Ettore and Slioussareva before the sprint at 91km. Heading on to the final 20km climb, Zabirova, Bruckner (Saturn), Schleicher and Matusiak and a few others got away and quickly caught the other riders ahead.
In the last 10km Zabirova attacked heaps, and countering a move by Matusiak, she managed to get away, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Matusiak and Bruckner to win the stage. All the usual suspects were in the next bunch of 15 riders. It was then groups of about ten riders at a time arriving at the finish line.
I struggled a fair bit on the climb, but managed to just stay with a decent sized group, which makes it much easier on the flatter, fast sections. The Lido dancer in our team, Cynthia had a tough day, riding with a couple other girls for most of the stage and then alone on the final climb. She was given heaps of support and cheers from the French crowd as she finished, and was awarded the 'Elegance' prize for the day. Miho, my Japanese teammate climbed in the same group as me, still nursing a sore arm from her crash in the time trial. There were some significant riders abandoning today: Nicole Cooke, Fany LeCourtois, Miriam Melchers, Diana Ziliute and Katie Mactier.
Big day tomorrow, and almost certainly wet. Still having fun!
A toute a l'heure,
Emma's racing exploits in 2002