By VeloNews Interactive
Germany’s Petra Rossner (Saturn) won a bunch sprint in the 103.1km women’s road cycling World Cup race from Cooma to Thredbo, Australia on Sunday. Australia’s Rochelle Gilmore and world No. 3 Mirjam Melchers of the Netherlands were second and third after a punishing race culminated in an exhausting 35km climb to this ski resort in the Snowy Mountains.
The 35-year-old, who took gold on the track at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and is the reigning German national road champion, won in 3:14:25.
“The race was fantastic in that I had the strongest team,” said Rossner. “I might not have been the strongest rider but we had a plan and my teammates did an awesome job to bring me back all the times there were breakaways, so I could just take it easy over the hills and not hammer myself. I knew if I had to kill myself during the race, I wouldn’t have the kick for the sprint at the end.”
It’s the fifth time a round of the World Cup has been raced in Australia, which was the host of the debut event in Sydney in 1998. For the past three years the race has been held in Canberra but this year the field rolled out of Cooma for the much tougher, hilly route to Thredbo.
75 of the world’s top cyclists representing 10 countries lined up for the start, but missing from the field was defending World Cup overall champion and world No. 1, Anna Millward, who is still recovering from a leg injury sustained at last year’s world championships in Portugal.
Newcastle schoolteacher Olivia Gollan (AIS Team) was the early break away in the race, attacking at the 16km mark. She gained a lead of more than three minutes before the field began the chase to bring her back. Gollan was reeled in at 75km as the race passed Jindabyne and turned onto the mountain road to Thredbo.
Former Olympic rower Amy Safe (Australian National Team) then launched an attack with Dutch cyclist Arenda Grimberg (Netherlands) going with her. But Safe dropped her Dutch rival soon after and rode away to a 50-second advantage over the chasing bunch which was splitting up as the road grew steeper.
Safe was caught with 14km remaining by a chasing group of around 20 riders, which included all the race favorites.
The pressure increased as the field swept into Friday Flat and towards the finish where Rossner led home the lead group of 13 riders to claim the win and the early lead in the 2002 UCI World Cup Series.
The same field will line up tomorrow in Khancoban for the first stage of the 2002 Tour de Snowy, a three day, five stage road race. Round 2 of the nine-stop World Cup series will be held in New Zealand on March 10.
AFP contributed to this report
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP NO. 1, Thredbo, Australia. March 3;
1. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn, 103.1km in 3:14:25; 2. Rochelle Gilmore (Aus); 3. Mirjam Melchers (Nl); 4. Hayley Rutherford (Aus); 5. Hanka Kupfernagel (G); 6. Priska Doppmann (Swi); 7. Melissa Holt (NZ); 8. Mari Holden (USA), USA-Cannondale; 9. Heidi Van de Vijver (B); 10. Rosalind Reekie-May (NZ); 11. Kym Shirley (Aus); 12. Judith Arndt (G); 13. Susanne Ljungskog (Swe); 14. Kimberly Anderson (USA), all same time; 15. Margaret Hemsley (Aus), at 0:14; 16. Kimberly Bruckner (USA), Saturn, at 0:38; 17 Catherine Marsal (F); 18. Jessica Phillips (USA); 19. Naomi Williams (Aus), all same time; 20. Emma James (Aus), at 0:46
World Cup standings after round 1; 1. Petra Rossner (G) 75 points; 2. Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) 50; 3. Mirjam Melchers (Nl) 35; 4. Hayley Rutherford (Aus) 30; 5. Hanka Kupfernagel (G) 27; 6. Priska Doppmann (Swi) 24; 7. Melissa Holt (NZL) 21; 8. Mari Holden (USA) 18; 9. Heidi Van De Vijver (B) 15; 10. Rosalind Reekie-May (NZ) 11