By Dede Barry, T-Mobile Cycling Team
After a week of training with Michael and a couple of his teammates in the Pyrénées, I was feeling super motivated to race. The boys whipped me into flying form, as I followed them up col after col, panting away. They were doing long, steady rides in the mountains in preparation for the upcoming Vuelta a España, but for me, it was like two to five hours of motor pacing each day.
I boarded a plane Saturday night for Nuremberg, after a slight glitch in my travel arrangements. I was happy to arrive at the hotel at a reasonable enough hour to have a good dinner and sleep.
None of my T-Mobile teammates came to Nuremberg, as they are all at home in America preparing for the T-Mobile San Francisco Grand Prix. Fortunately, a mixed T-Mobile-SATS team was formed so that I could start the race. SATS provided me with excellent support for the weekend and I met some really nice girls in the team.
I was a little bummed to see how flat the course was in arriving at Nuremberg. There was a small 600-meter riser on the course, but the rest of the 13km circuit was like a pancake. The race could have been interesting with some wind, but the weather did not cooperate, and it was a day destined for a massive field sprint.
At the start line, I was chatting with Canadians Lyne Bessette, Manon Jutras and Sue Palmer Kolmar, about the upcoming World Championships in Hamilton, Ontario. They were giving me the lowdown on their race schedule and preparation for world’s. They all seem motivated, fit and excited for the opportunity to race a world championship in their homeland.
The crowds lining the street before the start were already large, mostly in anticipation for appearances later in the day by Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel. Germany is cycling-crazed this summer.
The gun fired and we headed off on our journey around city of Nuremberg. Unfortunately, we only made it 2km before the first crash occurred. I am not sure what caused it, as it occurred at the front of the bunch, and when I came through at the end of the peloton with Manon, we saw Lyne lying face down, crying. We both wanted to stop and see if she was all right, it was a horrible sight. Several other girls had fallen as well, but they all seemed to be jumping up and on their bikes immediately. Lyne never straddled her bike again, and I heard that she sustained shoulder and jaw injuries. I spent much of the race saying prayers for her, hoping that she was not in too much pain and will heal up quickly.
The peloton was a bit nervous, perhaps due to the technical nature of the circuit. We rode at a solid tempo for the first half of the race – there were not really any attacks until the midway point, and even after that, the attacks were sporadic. It seemed that the Nürnberger team was controlling the race for Petra Rossner, their sprinter; Acca Due was controlling the race for Nicole Cooke, the World Cup leader and their sprinter Dianna Zilute; and the German National Team was doing the same for Regina Schleicher. This meant that there were 15-20 riders chasing down the breakaway attempts at the front of the bunch all day. Each attack was brought back immediately; no gaps survived more than a kilometer.
The crowd seemed to grow each lap, especially at the finish line and on the little hill. It was motivating to hear the cheers and noisemakers. By the time we doing the final circuits the energy on the course was amazing.
As the wind-up began for the bunch sprint, Nürnberger, German National and Acca Due were fighting for the front to lead out their sprinters. It was a little messy and disorganized, really. I have to say I felt a little scared at moments, as elbows were flying. In the end, Zilute squirmed and drove her way to the line first and Nicole Cooke gained enough points to clinch her World Cup win. I don’t think that anyone can catch her in the final in Rotterdam next week.
The men lined up just after the finish of our race, with 250km ahead of them. The bratwurst stands lining the course smelled good, and I was happy to be finished for the day.