Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt - CDM/1.1

Germany, September 11, 2005


One last race for Oenone Wood's World Cup defence

Double point rule still in effect

By Kristy Scrymgeour

2004's double celebration
Photo ©: Mario Stiehl
Click for larger image

In almost a repeat of the situation in 2004, Oenone Wood, this year riding for Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, will start the final World Cup race of the series this weekend in the team's home town of Nürnberg with a relatively good lead, but not enough to be totally sure of the overall win. Also like last year, the final round holds double points, making it that little bit harder to retain the lead.

However, apart from her teammate Judith Arndt, the only riders who can possibly move ahead of Wood in points are Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel and Susanne Ljungskog of Buitenpoort-Flexpoint. Melchers-Van Poppel was in a similar position last year when she sat second in the standings. This year she sits in third, 73 points behind Wood and Ljungskog sits in second, only 25 points down. Buitenpoort will have to go on the attack to unhinge the Nürnberger team, with Wood's sprint too good for them to risk a bunch finale.

Cyclingnews talked to Ljungskog this week, and she is looking forward to the challenge. "The world cup so far has been good for our team, we have two victories and we are in the position that we can win it, both me and Mirjam," she said. "It's always nice to have the chance of winning and we will certainly try our best. Wood is a great cyclist and if she wins it she well deserves it."

Ljunskog added that she is also looking forward to the rest of the season that includes Giro della Toscana and World Championships. "This year has been so nice and I'm really proud to be a part of Team Buitenpoort-Flexpoint. The girls and the staff work together 100% therefore we have a great atmosphere in the team."

As for the World Championships she added, "A lot of girls can be the world champ this year, there's a very good level of women's cycling now. I'm one of them that has a chance and I think it's going to be fun in Madrid."

Nürnberger will have the dilemma of wanting to win the actual race in the home town of their sponsor this weekend, but at the same time wanting to hold onto the lead of the overall. Last year Petra Rossner, racing for Nürnberger at the time, won the race in a field sprint, with Wood taking third riding for the Australian National Team. Despite the double points rule, Wood was able to maintain the lead and Nürnberger was able to take the win on the day. As one of the directors of Nürnberger this year, Rossner will face this dilemna of choosing which is most important for them.

Ultimately, both would be ideal, but in essence protecting the World Cup lead is the priority. Waiting for a bunch sprint for Wood could be one tactic, but the risk of getting edged out by Melchers or Ljunsgkog may be too high. The safest situation for Nürnberger would be to let a break go with non-World Cup contenders, making it impossible for Buitenpoort to take the lead. According to the points breakdown, the break would have to be at least nine-strong to shut Buitenpoort out of the World Cup Series win, leaving Nürnberger the less stressful task of simply getting Wood over the line safely.

Of course there is always the scenario that Nürnberger lets a break go up the road and puts one of their riders in it to try to win out of the break. With World Champion Judith Arndt, Trixi Worrack, Regina Schleicher and Olivia Gollan lining up, this is entirely possible. Arndt however, is on the start list but she has been a little sick lately and may be sitting out of the race this weekend.

Going on the penultimate World Cup race, a breakaway might in fact be the outcome. Using that tactic last weekend in Rotterdam was Ina Yoko Teutenberg (German National Team), who won the race out of a breakaway that went after 30km of racing. In the break was Nürnberger's Gollan, but it was two Italian riders Alessandra D'ettorre (Italian National Team) and Luisa Tamanini (Team Bianchi-Aliverti) who went with Teutenberg's final attack out of that break to fight it out at the end.

Cyclingnews caught up with Wood who said that things were definitely going to "be tight" this weekend. "There are only 25 points between Susanne and I and it is also possible for Mirjam to win the overall," she said. "The points are double for this round, which means that losing a place or two could mean the whole series. I am going to have a hard day on Sunday if I want to keep the jersey.

"The good news is that we have a really good team for the race," she added. "Not only to go for the overall, but also to win on the day. Regina showed in the Holland Ladies tour that she is the fastest sprinter at the moment, so she will be definitely motivated if it should come to a bunch sprint. The course is quite tough though, so a break could easily get away. Particularly if the weather is anything like it was last year in Nuernberg. Fingers crossed there will be sunshine."

The course is relatively flat and set within the confines of the city of Nürnberg. Last year rain made things a little sketchy on the tight turns and occasional railway tracks.

The day's racing also includes a 1.1-ranked men's race, which will help bring out the crowds as Tour de France stars such as Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Ivan Basso line up.