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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.
Emma's Giro d'Italia Femminile diary
Prologue - July 5: Pontedera ITT, 2 km
July 5, 2002
Is the race on or isn't it, and are we getting UCI points or not? Who knows.
We spent the morning of the first day driving for about three hours from our base in Novellara, in central northern Italy to the Tuscany region, on the west coast of Italy, near Pisa for the first few days of racing. The 2km prologue on the evening of the first day was in Pontedera, Tuscany. From my limited understanding of the Italian description of this town, it is renowned for it's wood resources / forestry and also where the Vespa scooter is produced.
Depending on when you asked, the prologue did or did not count for GC time - just for the allocation of the jerseys. The talk at lunch was that it did not count, just before the race the times did count towards GC, and by the time the last few riders were starting… it did not count at all!
The other news from the directors meeting was that the Giro was possibly cancelled! At a race two weeks earlier, the Giro del Trentino, Alessandra Cappellotto from the Bik-Powerplate team was not at the hotel her team was staying in when the UCI arrived for an early morning random blood test. It was said that she was visiting her father who was not well who happened to live only a half hour away, and that she had notified the UCI doping control staff the day before. The following day there was a little drama, as teams proposed not to start the final day of the Trentino race if a rider who had not shown up for doping control was permitted to start.
She was given a 15 day penalty, which overlaps with the first couple days of the Giro. The UCI supposedly had given her permission to race - perhaps due to the special circumstances. Other teams were unimpressed by the leniency given that there are some good riders from these teams currently on the last five days of their penalties for high haematocrit. The teams proposed to boycott the race, the Italian federation wanted the whole Bik team not to start, and the UCI were adamant that they should decide what happens. We continued with our race preparation and racing, to find out later that the UCI commissaires had gone home and the Giro d'Italia is no longer a UCI categorised race!
Apart from the above dramas, we had a slightly shortened and simplified course for prologue in seriously dwindling light! Our guess at the start times (based on reverse alphabetical order) was completely wrong, and we ended up starting at quite different times than we had thought. This gave Sara Carrigan a rather limited warm up, but as one of the first off we saw her flying around the course (without having seen it beforehand!) to record the third fastest time (2.36) behind Chantal Beltman and Olga Slioussareva. The light disappeared quickly, and those starting at 8.30 had a significant advantage over those starting at 10.30pm!
I started just after 10pm, and going from the floodlit starting ramp to the first corner that seemed to have no streetlights, I felt I was blind! It took a bit for my eyes to adjust, but the beautiful Ti-Sports time-trial bikes and the good atmosphere in the town certainly helped. I should have used "the force", and not bothered with vision for the first corner!
The Aussie girls all had times fairly close together (around 2.39-2.45), and given that it didn't count for GC, we were more concerned about having a hot chocolate and heading back to the hotel to get to bed before midnight!
Emma's racing exploits in 2002