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1st Geelong World Cup - CDM

Australia, March 2, 2003

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Complete Live Report

Start time: 13.00 EST
Estimated finish time: 16:00 EST

Pre-race ride
Photo: © Kristen Armstrong
Click for larger image

Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the first round of the Women's World Cup for 2003 being held for the first time in the centre of Geelong, Australia, a seaside centre on the south west coast of Victoria. Karen Forman reports from the start line it's cool and overcast on this early Autumn day in Australia, with a breeze blowing in from the ocean that could freshen in the afternoon as the race progresses.

The Geelong locals have come out to support the event, with a carnival atmosphere provided by the stalls and side-shows around the race circuit. Most of the competitors have been in Australia for a few weeks leading up to this event, competing in the Cooma Snowy Women's Cycle Classic and also the UCI 2.9.2 event, the Geelong Women's Tour. In between races, they also had the opportunity to do some training along the Victorian coastline, particularly along the famous Great Ocean Road (see photo).

The seven kilometre course goes through the centre of Geelong and out along the Eastern Beach foreshore and then returns into the town. It will have to be completed 17 times to make up the race distance of 120km and it's certainly one for the sprinters, with an expected showdown between reigning World Cup champion Petra Rossner, Australian speedster Rochelle Gilmore and the classy Dutch rider, Mirjam Melchers. Another rider to look out for is Australian sprinter Alison Wright, who has previously been a lead-out rider for Gilmore when they are in the AIS. But today, Wright is with the Road Racer-Guerciotto Cycling Team, which includes Italian ace Sigrid Corneo, as well as the Australian criterium champion Hayley Rutherford and fellow Aussie Kim Shirley. Prior to the start, Wright said she was feeling good and although the race was wide open - due to the relatively flat parcours and first race of the series - she was hoping her team could work well for her.

13:00 EST - 120 km to go
The riders have rolled out of Geelong in cool temperatures, under grey skies and a stiff breeze coming in from the ocean. The wind could be a factor today as it is a relatively flat parcours and the bunch could get strung out by serious attacks. Also, being the first race of the season many riders may not be as well prepared they would like to be.

13:06 EST - 4km/116 km to go
Already an attack of eight riders has pulled a 15 second break on the peloton. The break includes German champion Judith Arndt (Nurnberger Versicherung), Katie Mactier (VIS), Natalie Bates (AIS) and one T-Mobile Team rider.

13:26 EST -17km/103 km to go
There's been major damage to the peloton as this quality break has pulled a lead of 40 seconds on the main field. The reaction by the peloton has seen 10 riders already dropped. As mentioned before, the break includes Mactier, Arndt, Natalie Bates and her sister Katherine Bates, who is riding for the Bik-Power Plate squad. Also in there is Katherine's Bik-Power Plate team-mate Sara Carrigan, New Zealand rider Susie Wood and Hayley Rutherford (Road Racer-Guerciotto).

13:56 EST -31km/89 km to go
The break has grown to a lead of 1.10 on the main field. There is a correction from the commissaires about the lead group - there are seven riders in this quality break which does not include Rutherford, while the Kiwi rider in the break is Melissa Holt, not Susie Wood.

14:20 EST - 45km/75 km to go
The leaders are working well and holding off the chasing main field. Their lead has gone out to 1.20. Just to confirm, the break includes German champion Judith Arndt (Nurnberger Versicherung), Katie Mactier (VIS), Natalie Bates (AIS), her sister Katherine Bates (Bik-Power Plate), Sara Carrigan (Bik-Power Plate), Melissa Holt (New Zealand) and Kristen Armstrong (Team T-Mobile).

14:30 EST - 52km/68km to go

The gap has come down to 1.15 and the peloton is slowly pulling back some time on the break. Former world number one Anna Millward, a previous winner of this event, is still recovering from a leg injury so is commentating for the spectators (and doing a marvellous job in between signing autographs). She believes the leaders look quite comfortable after settling down with their lead, are working well together but will "become enemies at the end when it's time for the sprint".

Cornelia Cyrus of the Nurnberger Versicherung team has called for medical attention and an ambulance has gone to her aid. A few minutes later at the start/finish line, without her bike, the rider is limping and has grazes on her elbow.

The field is now strung out. Apparently a lot of riders feel they underestimated the course, which is very tight - it is like a criterium crossed with an out-and-back road race. As the field enters the ninth lap there is a crash at the feed station - Emma Rickards (Victoria Cycling VIS) has hit a 'witch's hat' lane marker.

14:48 EST - 62km/58km to go

After the feed the gap between the breakaway and the bunch is now at its greatest - 1.35. On the front of the chasing bunch and looking quite fierce are Road Racer - Guerciotto members Alison Wright and Hayley Rutherford, with AIS rider Amy Safe is also working hard. The weather is changing - the skies are greying and the riders are battling a cross wind.

14.48 EST 70km/ 49km to go
Reporting from out on the course, cycling reporter Mike Tomalaris of SBS-TV says the wind has suddenly decreased – it had been really blowing along the foreshore in the early stage of the race – and predicts the bunchshould close in on the leaders. Emma Rickards has been taken to hospital following her crash in the feedzone. No details of the crash or her condition are available just yet. Jodie Till (FRF Couriers NSWIS) has withdrawn as has Karen Hopkinson.

14.55 EST - 72km/ 47km to go
The leaders have a gap of 1:08 and are sharing the turn of pace equally, still appearing to be quite strong. It is getting darker and cooler on the course. The main bunch is trailing all over the course.

15.07 EST - 78km/42km to go
The breakaway is stringing out a little and has a 49 second gap. The main bunch is closing in. Just to recap, the break includes the following riders: Judith Arndt (Nurnberger Versicherung), Katie Mactier (VIS), Natalie Bates (AIS), her sister Katherine Bates (Bik-Power Plate), Sara Carrigan (Bik-Power Plate), Melissa Holt (New Zealand) and Kristen Armstrong (Team T-Mobile).

15.16 EST – 84km/35km to go
At the end of the 12th lap, the chasing bunch has reduced the time gap to 47 seconds. AIS rider Emma James is now on the front of the chasing bunch and working hard.

15.20 EST - 86km/33km to go
The field is on the 13th lap with four to go. The lead group has responded and taken the gap back out to a minute.

15.24 EST - 89km/30km to go
The time gap is now 1.06. The breakaway riders still appear reasonably comfortable. In the chasing bunch, the teams of riders in the break are moving to the front, including Jennifer Manefield of the AIS, Margaret Hemsley of Nurnberger Versicherung, Elizabeth Williams of Victorian Cycling VIS and Kim Andersen of T-Mobile are setting the pace but not really blocking.

15.31 EST – 91km/ 28km to go
At the start of the 14th lap the leaders have a time gap of 44 seconds. Hayley Rutherford (Road Racer-Guerciotto) has gone off the front of the chasing peloton and has 10 seconds on them. The lead is gradually coming down and at 96km, the time gap was back to 32 seconds. Commissaires report there is a lot of action in the main peloton, with the winner of last week’s Geelong Bellarine Tour, Olivia Gollan of the AIS, the main perpetrator.

15.39 EST - 99km/21km to go
As they cross the start finish line to start the 15th lap, the new Australian Open road champion Olivia Gollan is looking very strong, while Elizabeth Williams (Victorian Cycling VIS) is also looking menacing on the outside.

Further up the course, Mactier and Holt have attacked the breakaway group! Back in the bunch, Mirjam Melchers has dropped her chain, bad luck at this late stage in the race.

Mactier and Holt last four kilometres from the lead group - they have have been reeled in and the group of seven is again driving it hard at the front of the race. The time gap when they caught Mactier and Holt was one minute to the main field.

15.52 EST - 106km/14km to go
The lead group is still looking strong as the seven riders cross the start finish line to begin their penultimate lap, and the time gap has grown out to 1.18. Just to recap, the break includes Judith Arndt (Nurnberger Versicherung), Katie Mactier (VIS), Natalie Bates (AIS), her sister Katherine Bates (Bik-Power Plate), Sara Carrigan (Bik-Power Plate), Melissa Holt (New Zealand) and Kristen Armstrong (Team T-Mobile).

There is some dampness in the air – it might even rain for the final sprint. The time gap is 1.19.

16.04 EST 113km/7km to go
The race is in its last lap and is the time gap has blown out to 2.10! The main bunch has evidently decided to give up the chase. Meanwhile, music is blaring out from the speakers in the start-finish area, the atmosphere is set for an exciting finish. It’s the last lap and the girls are eyeing each other off and an attack is going to happen any minute.

The pace is right on. Katie Mactier is on the front and powering, out of the saddle with Judith Arndt on her wheel. It is like a velodrome sprint, they are all watching each other like hawks.

Katie Mactier attacks again and looks over her shoulder, before going off for the third time. She opens up a gap of 20 metres. There’s just one kilometre to go - meanwhile, Katherine Bates has dropped off and there’a a 50 metre gap to the leaders and she probably won’t catch up at this late stage.

16.10 EST 120km
Katie Mactier's incessant attacks have brought her a 20 metre gap but Sara Carrigan and Judith Arndt are chasing hard in the final 200 metres. As Mactier hits the line she thinks she has the win and throws her arms up in the victory salute, but Carrigan dives under and steals the win by less than wheel, with Arndt taking out third.

After the finish, Carrigan told Cyclingnews she was delighted with the win and paid tribute to the contributions from her Bik-Power Plate teammate Katherine Bates. "I couldn't have done it without her," Carrigan said. Bates' work in the lead group - which attacked on the first lap and stayed away the entire race - meant Carrigan could get away with doing fewer turns in the break. Bates was dropped in the final lap but Carrigan saved something for the final kick and chased down the aggressive Mactier in the final few metres of the race to take out the first World Cup race of the year.

Results - Geelong World Cup - CDM 120km

1 Sara Carrigan (Power Plate Bik)                         3.10.05     37.56kmh
2 Katie Mactier  (Victorian Cycling VIS) 
3 Judith Arndt (Nurnberger Versicherung)
4 Melisa Holt (New Zealand National Team)                       
5 Kristen Armstrong (T-Mobile)                                  

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