By Dede Demet Barry, T-Mobile Professional Cycling Team
This past week in Australia we have felt as though we were stuck in a broken record. We have had one field sprint after another, starting in the Geelong Tour and ending in the Geelong World Cup today. Our team did not have a sprinter here with legs at the finish to contest the podium, and we knew this after day one in the tour. We tried our hardest to force a different outcome in each of the races, but we never had any luck forging a breakaway that would stick to the finish.
Last year at the Geelong World Cup, a breakaway went almost at the beginning of the race. The wind was blowing, and there was a fair amount of attrition. This year, T-Mobile hoped for similar conditions, as the circuit itself is not all that challenging; we were hoping that sour weather would make it more selective and this would play in our favor.
Things were looking up as we heard the wind blowing and the rain falling all through the night. But as we drank our coffee and ate our oats this morning, the downpour ceased, the sun came out, and the wind died down. When we arrived at the race start, the roads were dry, and it looked to be a pleasant day for the spectators.
In our pre-race team meeting, we designated two riders to cover the moves the first few laps. Stacey Peters was a fixture at the front of the group, covering one move after the next and she even sneaked away with one other rider for a half lap. The peloton was chasing hard, though, and Stacey’s breakaway companion was not all that strong, so she had to do most of the work herself. Once they were caught, no other move would stick for any significant amount of time; even the splits in the peloton were all reconnected rather quickly.
There were some good efforts, especially from Katie Mactier up the hill with 40km to go, which forced a few splits in the bunch. Amber and I were in the front with her, rolling through, but the group was not committed and Nürnberger was chasing hard from behind with Petra Rossner in their draft. It seemed that several Australian teams were content to chase everything down all day and keep the bunch together for their sprinters as well.
As we approached the hill in the final lap, Amber and I were in the front, ready for the sparks to fly, but we were warned at the base of the climb that the road was slippery – some “moo poo,” as the Aussies call it, had fallen off the back of a truck and covered the road. This made for some messy conditions, and the final ascent was not as fast as one would expect on the final lap of a World Cup due to the conditions.
Once over the top in the crosswinds, Amber and I made some efforts to get away. We were caught immediately, as the pace was super high. We turned a corner and had a cross/tail wind all the way to the finish, where a massive field sprint ensued. Oenoe Wood, the recently crowned Australian national champ, crossed the line first, adding another win to her stellar summer of racing in Oz.
It’s late Sunday evening and we are now packing up for our journey home. I will fly tomorrow with my teammates to Los Angeles, and we will then part ways for two weeks – they will be staying in America until the Primavera World Cup in Italy March 20, while I will go on to Barcelona to settle into my Spanish home with Michael.