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Time for a change: The Kimberly Bruckner Journal 2003
Last year the 2001 US Road Champion Kimberly Bruckner left the number one ranked women's team in the US after two years with Saturn and joined the growing force that is Team T-Mobile. With her sights firmly set on the Worlds in Hamilton and the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, Kimberly's diary is sure to provide compelling reading.
T-Mobile vs Rona at Redlands
Prologue - April 1: Mt Rubidoux ITT, 5km
After a quick flight following the Solano Classic from San Jose to Ontario, California, I've arrived in Redlands for the start of the Redlands Classic, a six day stage race. I'm here with the big guns on our T-Mobile global squad: Kim Anderson, Kristin Armstrong, Dede Barry, Mari Holden, and Amber Neben.
This is the third year of the Mt. Rubidoux prologue at Redlands, a 5 kilometer time trial that wraps around Mt. Rubidoux and ends at the top. It's a lung-burner for sure. And every year, I struggle with whether I should use my time trial or road bike and what kind of gearing I should ask our mechanic to put on. You'd think I would just write this all down in my journal so I could look back and find out, but no, that would be too reasonable. Each year I start guessing again. Between my directors, mechanics, and myself, we came to the conclusion that I'd use my time trial bike. This caused a bit of apprehension on my part as well; I have not even seen my time trial bike for this year, much less ridden it! I'm one who needs to remain calm at the start of the race and not be worried about whether I will be able to shift or not in my time trial bars while I'm flying uphill with my heart rate red-lined. So I didn't try to think about it too much.
When we arrived at the start of the race, I hopped on my TT bike to check it out and make sure everything was in order. Of course it was. The bike felt great, looked fantastic, and I was happy. The only slight problem I had was clicking into my right pedal. It seemed a bit too tight and my cleat wasn't clicking in right away. In any other race, it would have been no big deal. But knowing myself and my tendency to panic, I had Duke switch pedals for me. I'm sure he thought I was a complete freak, but he did it with a smile on his face nonetheless.
The Redlands Classic has 105 women registered to race, and we were going off in 30 second intervals. My start was about half way through the field and after my lung-burning effort, I had the best time so far with 10:03. My teammate, Amber, was just 3 seconds behind me. But the rock stars of the field were still to come. All eyes were on Genevieve Jeanson of RONA. For a huge part of the men's pro field, their goal is just to beat Genevieve up the climb. And most of them don't do it! Last year, I believe she finished the equivalent of 18th in the pro men's field in this prologue. And Genevieve didn't let anyone down. She finished in a time of 9:43, definitely the time to beat. My time put me in second and Amber was third. Saturn grabbed fourth and fifth with Manon Juntras and Lyne Bessette. The race is on. T-Mobile finished really well overall with four of our girls in the top 10, putting us in a great position for some tough racing the rest of the week. It only goes up from here.
Stage 1 - April 2: Highland Circuit Race, 100/66.3km
This year's Highland Circuit race was a new circuit for us racers; a 5.1 mile lap with a significant amount of climbing the first half, and a significant amount of descending the second half. The women raced eight laps. Climber points and bonus seconds were on the line today about mid-way through the race so we knew the pace would be high.
In order to get a good warm-up, we T-Mobile girls rode from our host house, (which is amazing by the way) to the start of the race. As luck would have it, this ended up being not such a brilliant idea. We got POURED on, and arrived at the start totally soaked through. Our soigneur, Michelle, quickly applied the warming cream and ointment to our purple legs and Amy gave us all new, dry socks to put on. But we were all still pretty cold. Luckily the rain stopped before the start of the race, but as the women staged at the start/ finish line, one could see lots of blue lips and goose-bump covered legs. I knew I would probably warm up as soon as the racing started, but that didn't help my uncontrollable shivering as they called the top 15 to the line. A 15 minute delayed start didn't help matters either. I could feel my muscles tensing up. Finally the gun went off and we were racing.
Rona went straight to the front of the field, protecting their leader, as the rest of us were trying to get our cold legs moving. The first time up the climb was a bit rough since we were just trying to get the blood moving! Nothing really got going until the end of the second lap, when sprinter points were up for grabs. By this time, I was starting to get feeling in my feet again. But it was such an odd sensation... my tingling feet felt like they were about a size 14. I felt like I had flippers stuck to my pedals! Luckily that sensation quickly went away and I was back to normal.
A mid-race time bonus of 3, 2, and 1 second at the QOM line stirred things up as Genevieve went after those seconds like a woman possessed. Lyne Bessette was right on her heels, followed by Lyne Gaggioli and a few other stragglers. But because of the long descent, the pack quickly came back together.
Finally, as we crossed the start/finish line with three laps to go, Ina Teutenberg attacked super hard. There was a slight hesitation in the pack, but Dede grabbed the opportunity and went to bridge up to Ina. No one followed. It was a perfect move for us. The two established a good gap right away and it forced Rona to go to the front and chase. As soon as we hit the climb though, Genevieve took over from her team and put the hurt on. About mid-way down the descent, her girls would finally make it back to the front and could help her chase again. But the gap to Ina and Dede kept growing. No one was bringing them back. By the finish, Ina and Dede had a 45 second gap on the rest of the field, with Ina winning the sprint. The field came powering in, driven by teams like Saturn and Diet Rite that were setting up their trains for their sprinters. Diet Rite came out on top with Tina Mayolo-Pic winning the field sprint and rounding out the podium.
Dede's effort didn't quite put her in the yellow jersey, but it did move her up to second place overall. Which puts T-Mobile in a super strong position with riders in second, third, and fourth place in overall GC. Tomorrow's stage is the longest of the whole race at 130km, ending in a long climb and mountain-top finish. We've got a lot of cards to play tomorrow... now we just need to play them intelligently.
Talk to you soon,