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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 12 - August 16: Le Mans - Châteaudun, 111.4km
Chewing the bars
I was keen to get in a break either today or tomorrow (or both) - the last long road stages of the tour before the final eight km ITT in Paris on Sunday. There had been a fair bit of action on the short stage yesterday, so I was confident that there were other people keen to get up the road, and hopefully no team strong enough to cover everything for the GC riders to dominate the race. The first move of the day was by Jolanta Polikevichiute. She got away after about 10km, and was almost always just in sight of the bunch (20 second gap) even though the pace was high in the peloton with Vlaanderen riders often at the front.
I countered the move by Jolanta Polikevichiute at the crest of a little hill at around the 25km mark. The Vlaanderen team started to chase me down. I sat up - thinking why the hell do they waste their energy on me! The counter move went just as the bunch got to me. Two girls: Parietti (Figurella) and Sollner (Nurnberger). The Vlaanderen clan looked a little weary already, and the gap opened up - so I went with them (It was hard because they countered off my attack, and it was on the next little pinch!) Chantal Beltman (Acca Due O) joined us and absolutely DROVE IT - the sort of power that you can only get by riding in windy conditions in Holland for many years!
After a few kilometres Ina Teutenberg (Saturn) and Ghita Beltman (Acca Due O) made it a strong group of six. We rode well as a group; really hard at times, giving me a bit of an idea of what a strong team time trial could be like! The Beltmans and Ina were the driving force. I was feeling fairly good, and quite hopeful that the move had been a good one, and that it might pay off.
After about 35km in the break together we got to an intermediate sprint (which Vlaanderen had hoped the peloton would contest to give Susanne Ljungskog the chance to get a couple seconds closer to Stahurskaia). Our gap to the peloton was 1'42. In the next 10km it dropped to 50 seconds then 30 - and then a minute later the peloton was just behind us! Edilsavino rider Chuzhinova was between the peloton and our group for forty kilometres, and sat on for the five odd kilometres between when she got to us, and when the peloton pulled us all back.
There was a half-hearted split in our group as we were caught; with a little hope that the peloton would be happy to have caught just a few! I went with it, but we got nowhere. I drifted back through the peloton quite quickly. Watching a few attacks at the front - not too concerned because I didn't think anyone would be allowed to go anyway - and because I was bloody disappointed that we had not been able to stay away (and I was a bit smashed). So I chewed the bars in the wind at the back of the peloton and felt sorry for myself. I could see one of the Beltmans who had been in the break with me earlier at the front of the peloton going with attacks. I know that is a good idea because it is always the next / last move that succeeds… but I was a long way from the front and our roughly 50km break had sapped all my enthusiasm.
The next move was made by Amber Neben (T-Mobile/USA national team), in similar style to her strong attacks in the last few days. She got a minute up the road in the final 20km of the race, eventually chased by Stahurskaia and Ljungskog. These three finished just ahead of the peloton after the final descent and sharp corner leading on to a tough 300m pinch in the last 500m. Stahurstkaia was first, then Ljungskog, Neben and then Schleicher and Slioussareva bringing in a very strung out bunch. They had warned us before hand that any rider with a mechanical mishap in the final kilometre would not given bunch time (as is usually the case for a crash etc. in the final km).
The fountain in the town of Chateaudun provided a nice, cool welcome for the riders and me from Acca Due O, Bik-Powerplate and later Saturn. It was a very hot day, and after a long hard stage my feet were sore and throbbing. Yvonne Brunen didn't even bother to take her shoes off! The fountain had an edge just perfect for sitting on - but if the water had been any deeper, we would have been swimming.
A toute a l'heure,
Emma's racing exploits in 2002