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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
Stage 2 - July 7: Peccioli-Peccioli, 112 km
July 7, 2002
Beautiful, simple, gourmet Italian pasta. mmm.
The second stage was 112kms over a large and then small circuit starting in a town called Peccioli, very close to our hotel. There were two climbs in the larger loop which we did three times, the hardest of the two being the steep 2km berg through the finishing town, which also featured in the four smaller circuits at the end of the race.
The pace up the climbs was not as fast as I expected (or feared!), but when the best of the riders are climbing steadily (rather than attacking) the bunch will dwindle and riders end up strung out in single file over the top of the climb. If your legs aren't feeling great (or position before the climb is not good) it is easy to end up having to chase back to the bunch - with the same girls each time - all struggling a little more than they would like. I experienced a little of this today.
The start of the race involved a section of neutral over part of the final circuit (including the climb and descent). Just after the descent there was a crash (still in the neutral zone and on a flat, wide road!). We waited at the 0km mark, waiting for a few riders from the crash to catch back up. I was a little tentative in the bunch for most of the race. The bunch is much more settled and smooth towards the end of the race - usually when the field has dwindled, and with fewer riders (all a little fatigued), it is easier to hold position.
There were a fair few attacks in the last half of the race, but it seemed that the climbers were keen to have the bunch together for the final climb. Zinaida Stahurstkia won the stage, with the main field coming in pretty much in single file after the last kilometre of climbing up to the line. It was a really hard circuit, and a solid day for everyone. Hayley Rutherford finished 11th and will be in the young riders jersey tomorrow. Sara finished 13th, I would have been around 40th with a couple other teammates. Anna cramped at the start of the climb the second last time up, and had to stop, finishing with a bunch behind the main field. She will no doubt be up for a stage win, and some more good racing preparation for the Commonwealth Games in a month.
We did see a fair few Vespa scooters out today - so I reckon they were right that the Vespa factory is nearby. There are loads of big fields of sunflowers too - reminding us that it must be Tour de France time (which we get to see a bit of in the hotel each night). It has been warm, so staying hydrated has been a bit of a mission. The hotel we have been at near Peccioli has been wonderful for meals - beautiful, simple, gourmet Italian pasta. mmm.
Emma's racing exploits in 2002