Category Archives: Helen Kelly 2007

Training Blog – by Helen Kelly

Training Blog – by Helen Kelly

This week I have been training at altitude in Reno, Nevada in preparation for Tour of the Gila, in New Mexico.  I have been training with fellow team mates, Rachel, Laura and Amber.   I typically suffer for the first week at altitude so I was keen to train and sleep at altitude as ideal Gila preparation.

We have been staying with Amber’s parents at 4700ft (1430m) above sea level.  The weather was in the 70’s as we drove to Reno and I spent the 4hrs happily snapping away with my camera.

Knowing that I would feel ordinary (translation – below average) for the first few days at altitude, we only rode 2hrs the first day.  With winds of 50km/hr (30mph) we wisely chose to ride 1.5hrs into a headwind and then we turned around, and flew home in 30mins.  Amazingly, we found a 5% climb and with the tailwind if we sat up and held out our jerseys we could freewheel up it.

Coming from the southern hemisphere, I am one of the lucky riders that rarely trains and races in cold weather.  I leave Australia at the end of summer and arrive in the northern hemisphere in the spring.  At the end of the race season, I return to Australia for another spring and a long hot summer.  My last winter was in 2001 so you can imagine my excitement to see snow covered lawns on our second day in Reno.

After taking tonnes of photos of snow and watching it fall throughout the morning, I realised that this weather meant a trainer session for us.  We pulled out trainers and sweated it out in the garage.  With some good vibes and encouragement from each other, we succeeded in hurting our lungs and legs.  Surprisingly I could get my heartrate up to 180 (maximum is 203) which rarely happens for me at altitude.

The following day we decided to brave the cold and ride a 12km climb up Mt Geiger (6,789ft).  I was bundled up in my thermals, ear warmers, gloves and every other piece of clothing I could find.  My coach in Oz told me not to go too hard today so I climbed in my zone 2 (heartrate 160-165) and enjoyed the views over the Reno city.  The terrain reminds me of Arizona – very dry, arid and rocky.  With 1km to go, it started snowing really hard.  The snow was completely dry but was quickly covering the ground.  We decided to head down the mountain and seek drier terrain.

Yesterday we decided to do an epic 4 hour climbing day.  We met 3 local Reno guys and the 7 of us climbed up Mt Geiger and down the other side.  We passed through an old silver mining town called Virginia City, now a tourist town.  Next to the fudge store was a quick draw pistol competition in action.  It felt like we had just stepped back in time 100 years.

We descended an amazing canyon and found another 10km climb.  I did some 2 minute hard intervals up this with 2 minutes recovery between each.  I find these intervals perfect to prepare for attacking and surging up climbs.

So now that I have experienced snow I am definitely ready for warmer weather.  The excitement of riding all bundled up has dwindled and I look forward to wearing a sleeveless jersey and sunscreen again.  So now it is time to do a little stretching before dinner and bed.

Happy pedalling.


Stage 4 – Nature Valley

Stage 4 – Nature Valley

After resting from an all out individual time trial this morning, we loaded the vehicles and headed to stage 4, an evening criterium in downtown Minneapolis.  With 4 Webcor riders in the top 20, we wanted to race conservatively in the criterium and focus all our energy into moving up in GC in the final 2 stages.

This criterium had 6 corners on a 1.2km circuit.  The corners were really technical and this made it even more fun to race as I love technical crits.  In fact, my happiness was equivalent to:

–          Giving Mara a long steep climb and a bag of apples

–          Giving the Bay area riders a Peets coffee

–          Giving Rach chocolate, coffee, sunny weather and telling her you like the Queen

–          Giving Bev a nice cup of tea

–          Giving Laura compression tights to wear

–          Telling Bernard the gears on my Orbea changed perfectly or

–          Seeing how pleased Merry is to hand out cokes in the last feedzone without dropping any.

It rained hard all afternoon so as I rested from the time trial, I plotted and planned a complete shattering of the peloton with a satisfied little Mona Lisa smirk on my face.  Unfortunately, the rain stopped and everyone seemed super happy except me.  My consolation prize was that luckily the course was still technical so it would remain challenging for most of peloton.

Team Lipton worked hard on the front by keeping the pace high to protect their race leader, Kristin Armstrong.  Team Cheerwine also wanted to look after Catherine Cheatley (2nd in GC) from mishaps, so they also did a good share of pace making.  Their strategy was perfect and enabled us to sit in for a free ride.  Riding 4th or 5th wheel behind the Lipton or Cheerwine train was lovely and not at all taxing on the legs. I hardly braked and stayed out of the wind and rested.

There were time bonus sprints every 7 minutes so Laura and I followed the sprinters wheels and covered the predicted counter attacks.  An interesting piece of data is that sitting on the sprinters was fast, and my Polar data showed 50km/hr for each sprint!

The pace was so high that there was no chance of a break succeeding and the peloton prepared itself for a bunch kick.  Lipton started the lead out with 3 laps to go.  On bell lap, they were out of riders and as the field bunched through the start/finish line Cheerwine and Aarons took over.  Laura was sitting in 5th wheel whilst I took Brook Miller’s (Tibco) wheel just behind.  Van Gilder (Cheerwine) jumped from the final corner and took the stage, ahead of Nichole Wangsgard and Brooke Miller.  Laura finished 9th whilst I took it too wide on the last corner and didn’t contest the sprint.

Now its off to eat and rest which again put the Mona Lisa smirk back on my face.

By Kirsten Robbins in St. Paul, Minnesota

Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine), stage winner, looks ready
Photo ©: Frank Rowe

Deep crowds lined the streets to watch their showcased event streamline through the technical 1.2-kilometre circuit. Cheerwine’s Laura VanGilder repeated her 2006 stage win in a similar fashion, storming out of the final corner and holding off Nichole Wangsgard (Team Group Health) and Brooke Miller (Tibco) to take victory.

“There were certainly some great competitors out there racing tonight but winning never gets old,” said VanGilder. “Lipton did a great job out front today and so did my team, keeping me in good position. I jumped out of the last corner and I knew it was a long way to the line so I was hoping just to hold everyone off.”

Several crashes after the first corner and through the narrowed chicane on the backside of the circuit marred the women’s race. Both TEAm Lipton and Cheerwine kept the speeds high at the front of the field for the full 40 minutes, hoping to keep their GC riders safe and protected from accidents or time gaps. Every seven minutes the bell rang for an intermediate time bonus/point sprint. Aaron’s Rebecca Larson was consistently in the mix, winning the first two and placing in the last two. Larson took the lead of the sprint competition during the Cannon Falls road race and has now further increased that lead.

The women’s field rounds the corner
Photo ©: Frank Rowe

Though the intermediate sprints were also for time bonuses, second placed Catherine Cheatley (Cheerwine) chose not to contest the bonus sprints, despite being just 27 seconds behind Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton). “I knew that the other sprinters would be going for the sprint competition and that would make it really hard to compete for,” Cheatley said.

Cheatley also leads the best young rider competition and faces a tough task holding onto the jersey for the remaining two stages. “I haven’t raced here before,” she noted, “but I have heard the last two stages with their climbs on the circuits are very hard.”

With only a 27 second buffer over second place, world champion time trialist Armstrong intends on playing a conservative race on tomorrow’s penultimate stage.

“Tomorrow is a long race. I definitely want to make sure that I’m being conservative,” said Armstrong. “I think there’s going to be aggression with us. People are going to want to attack, make a breakaway, but I need to wait for the finishing circuits.”

1 Laura Van Gilder (USA) Cheerwine                                                     40.01

2 Nichole Wangsgard (USA) Team Group Health

3 Brooke Miller (USA) Team TIBCO

4 Shelley Olds (USA) PROMAN/Paradigm

5 Catherine Cheatley (NZl) Cheerwine

6 Alex Wrubleski (Can) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light

7 Susannah Pratt (USA) Ryan Collegiate

8 Stacy Marple (USA) Team TIBCO

9 Laura Yoisten (Can) Webcor Builders

10 Erica Allar (USA) Ryan Collegiate

11 Kristin Sanders (USA) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team

12 Lauren Franges (USA) TEAm Lipton

13 Iona Wynter (Jam) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light

14 Katie Mactier (Aus) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team

15 Catherine Walberg (USA) Team Kenda Tire

16 Brenda Lyons (USA) TEAm Lipton

17 Leigh Hobson (Can) Cheerwine

18 Helen Kelly (Aus) Webcor Builders

19 Kristin Armstrong (USA) TEAm Lipton

20 Marni Hambleton (Can) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team

21 Betina Hold (USA) Cheerwine

22 Jennifer Bodine (USA) Ryan Collegiate

23 Carmen McNellis (USA) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team

24 Kori Seehafer (USA) TEAm Lipton

25 Teresa Moriarty (USA) Flanders/MBRC

26 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light

27 Maria Luisa Calle Williams (Col) Colombia National Team

28 Rebecca Larson (USA) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team

29 Heather Labance (USA) Advil ChapStick

30 Lara Kroepsch (USA) TEAm Lipton

31 Rushlee Buchanan (NZl) Jazz Apple Cycling Team

32 Kelly Benjamin (USA) Cheerwine

33 Sarah Bamberger (USA) Cheerwine

34 Virginia Perkins (USA) PROMAN/Paradigm

35 Felicia Gomez (Can) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team

36 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders

37 Meredith Miller (USA) TEAm Lipton

38 Robin Farina (USA) Targetraining Womens Team

39 Rachel O’Connell (Aus) Cheerwine

40 Betsy Galenti (USA) America’s Dairyland

41 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders

42 Anna Milkowski (USA) Targetraining Womens Team

43 Leah Guloien (Can) Team Group Health

44 Alison Littlefield (USA) Contender Bicycles

45 Sharon Allpress (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team

46 Natalie Klemko (USA) Advil ChapStick

47 Marjan Huizing (USA) Team Kenda Tire

48 Jadine Riley (USA) Team Group Health

49 Julie Bishop (USA) Harris Teeter Naturals

50 Debbie Dust (USA) Team Kenda Tire

51 Katheryn Curi (USA) Webcor Builders

52 Christina DeKraay (USA) Harris Teeter Naturals

53 Sarah Caravella (USA) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team

54 Tamyra Barnard (USA) Team Kenda Tire

55 Victoria Bastide (USA) Team TIBCO

56 Catherine Powers (USA) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team

57 Courtenay Brown (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team

58 Tricia Bailey (USA) Team Group Health

59 Katharina Weber (USA) XPlane/Team Revolution

60 Kristin McGrath (USA) Ryan Collegiate

61 Andrea Myers (USA) Targetraining Womens Team

62 Martina Patella (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team

63 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders

64 Andrea Luebbe (USA) Ryan Collegiate

65 Kate Ligler (USA) PROMAN/Paradigm

66 Lisa Dunnwald (USA) Team Group Health

67 Casey Cessna (USA) Nova Cycle Sports Foundation

68 Heather Sborz (USA) Arizona State University

69 Megan Elliott (USA) Unattached

70 Kristin Wentworth (USA) Team Kenda Tire

71 Carrie Cash (USA) XPlane/Team Revolution

72 Kirsten Robbins (Can) Advil ChapStick

73 Beverley Harper (USA) Webcor Builders

74 Anne Guzman (Can) Team Kenda Tire

75 Alison Shanks (NZl) Jazz Apple Cycling Team

76 Heidi Goldberg (USA) Team Kenda Tire

77 Marisa Asplund (USA) Team TIBCO

78 Laura Charameda (USA) Advil ChapStick

79 Holly Borowski (USA) PROMAN/Paradigm

80 Kathleen Billington (USA) Targetraining Womens Team

81 Kathryn Clark (USA) Harris Teeter Naturals

82 Moriah MacGregor (Can) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light

83 Abby Lyn Cooper (USA) PROMAN/Paradigm

84 CarrieAnn Kopernik (USA) Nova Cycle Sports Foundation

85 Kim Geist (USA) TEAm Lipton

86 Madeleine Puissant (USA) Nova Cycle Sports Foundation

87 Devon Haskell (USA) Ryan Collegiate

88 Liza Rachetto (USA) Team TIBCO

89 Katie Lambden (USA) Team TIBCO                                                       0.38

90 Susan Peithman (USA) ABD Cycling Team                                                0.44

91 Michelle Kiesanowski (NZl) Aaron’s Pro Cycling Team                                  2.30

92 Rebecca Much (USA) Targetraining Womens Team

93 Corie Berrigan (USA) Team Kenda Tire

94 Patria Lanfranchi (USA) Team Group Health

95 Annie Lux (USA) Harris Teeter Naturals                                               2.52

96 Jill McLaughlin (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                  3.05

97 Arielle Filiberti (USA) Targetraining Womens Team                                    3.20

98 Liza Rachetto (USA) Team TIBCO                                                    2.20.37

Pro women

1 Kristin Armstrong (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                4.37.53
2 Catherine Cheatley (NZl) Cheerwine                                                    0.27
3 Shelley Olds (USA) PROMAN/Paradigm                                                    0.36
4 Katie Mactier (Aus) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                     0.42
5 Leigh Hobson (Can) Cheerwine                                                          0.43
6 Alex Wrubleski (Can) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light                  0.48
7 Laura Van Gilder (USA) Cheerwine                                                      0.51
8 Felicia Gomez (Can) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team                                          0.58
9 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders
10 Brooke Miller (USA) Team TIBCO                                                       1.03
11 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders
12 Kristin Sanders (USA) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team                                       1.04
13 Teresa Moriarty (USA) Flanders/MBRC
14 Lauren Franges (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                     1.05
15 Helen Kelly (Aus) Webcor Builders
16 Kori Seehafer (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                      1.06
17 Heather Labance (USA) Advil ChapStick                                                1.10
18 Nichole Wangsgard (USA) Team Group Health
19 Meredith Miller (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                    1.13
20 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders                                                    1.21

Joe Martin Stage Race

Joe Martin Stage Race

Stage 2 – 69 mile road race

After yesterday’s bunch kick, there were only a few seconds separating most of the peloton.  The strongest opposition for us was Team Cheerwine and Aaron’s cycling team, both with a full squad competing in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Together, they had 18 “redly clad” (Aarons and Cheerwine) riders following us about the peloton.

However, after winning Tour of the Gila, we were really motivated to repeat the performance.

With a time trial in the afternoon, which has typically been the decider of GC, our plan was to race aggressively but not to waste unnecessary energy.  We predicted a bunch kick so we rode the final 2km during our warm up and planned our lead out.

Our director had spent the past 3 days teaching us important bike skills we needed for a successful lead out.  Not only did we need sheer horse power, but also the ability to hold a wheel, handle knocks and bumps from other riders but how to successfully steal back a team mates wheel that had been taken from us, by another rider (sprinter).  We practised this over and over in the days leading up to Joe Martin in restricted gears (in the 39×21).  This enabled us to practice the technique and skills without taxing our legs that were recovering from Gila.

So as predicted there were many attacks but all were nullified and it did come down to a bunch kick.  After racing in Europe since 2003 on small narrow roads and being 5ft 11 (many describing me as being a tall unit), I love bunch kicks.  I have come to realise how nervous the other riders get because I am so tall.  I enjoy the hussle and bussle in the final 10km and still get a kick out of smaller riders who bump me and bounce off me.

So I have to say that today’s lead out was one of the most perfectly timed one’s I’ve been involved in.  With 8km to go, there was a mass of red at the front as Cheerwine and Aaron’s marshalled their 18 riders.  Without a moment’s hesitation, Katheryn found my wheel and stuck to it like glue.  My job was to guide our green train.  Amber was on Katheryn’s wheel and Rachel was our designated sprinter, sitting an inch off Amber’s rear.

As planned, with 1.5km to go, Bev attacked as hard as she could up an overpass.  She picked the windy side of the road and drew the entire peloton to the left, exactly as discussed in our meeting the evening before.  She was our decoy and it worked to perfection.  As the peloton reached her wheel down the left side of the road, I started our lead out a little to the right.  Katheryn screamed to me that she had my wheel and I opened it up full gas!!  I did 400m all out and flapped my elbow just before I blew up.  Katheryn took over and did the next 400m.  Amber delivered Rach to the 300m mark and dropped her off to duke it out with Laura Van Gilder’s (Cheerwine).

Rach crossed the line in 3rd place, a fantastic job against one of the top sprinters in North America.  Now its time to rest up for the time trial this afternoon.

Stage 3 – Redlands Centennial Bank Criterium

Stage 3 – Redlands Centennial Bank Criterium

By Helen Kelly (Webcor)

In contrast to yesterday’s hilly stage that finished at 5000ft on the summit of Oak Glen, today’s stage was a fast and technical criterium held in downtown Redlands.  The course was 1.6km per lap with 9 tight corners.

Before today’s race, Mara Abbott and Christine Thorburn (Webcor) were trailing Neben by 32 and 60 seconds, respectively.  With only a minute separating the top 3 positions in the general classification, today’s goal was to erode the margin held by race leader, Amber Neben (SC Velo).

I love racing criteriums and enjoy the thrill of cornering at speed and listening to the cheers from the crowd.  My Orbea cornered like a racing car and it was an absolute pleasure to push it to the limits.  Our peloton included some of the world’s top sprinters and during our pre-race meeting, race director Karen Brems, advised us to target key danger riders.

As soon as the gun fired, the race was on.  It took me a lap to manoeuvre through the field to the front where I took a few deep breaths and settled in for an hour of flat out racing.  Rachel, Amber, Kathryn and I followed many early attacks, while Christine sat comfortably in the top 10 and patiently shadowed, tmobile rider Ina Teutenberg.  Teutenberg was twitching and it was only a matter of time before she would launch her predicted power attack.

Seehafer (Lipton) won the first intermediate sprint, which was immediately countered by Oenone Wood (tmobile).  The pace was really high and my legs were stinging from yesterday’s climbing.  A lap later a bell rang, signifying that there was a sprint prime for money on the following lap.  The pace increased to 30 miles/hour and the peloton stretched into a single line of pain.  After De Geode (tmobile) took the sprint, Teutenberg launched.  Former National criterium champion, Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) immediately sprinted onto her wheel, while Brook Miller (Tibco) and Christine Thorburn (Webcor) buried themselves to close the gap.  It took Miller and Thorbun half a lap of all out power to get to Teutenberg and Van Gilder.

The break worked well together and with Teutenberg and Thorburn doing the lion’s share of the work, their lead stretched out to 25 seconds.  Thorburn successfully took the intermediate time bonus sprint and then continued to drive the break.  Thorburn did the final 2 laps on the front as the 3 sprinters eyed off one another.  Van Gilder reacted first, jumping out of the 3rd last corner.  Teutenberg was glued to her wheel timed her sprint to perfection, taking the stage win.  Van Gilder (Cheerwine) held on to 2nd, ahead of Miller (Tibco).  Christine’s hard work payed off as she succeeded in moving 26 seconds closer to race leader, Neben.

Heading into tomorrow’s stage, Neben wears the yellow leaders jersey.  Mara Abbott sits 2nd in GC (32 seconds down) and also wears the Queen of the mountain jersey, while Thorburn sits in 3rd position, 34 seconds behind Neben.  And not to be discounted is in-form Kathryn Curi, currently in 4th position overall.  Tomorrow’s final decisive stage will be very exciting – stay tuned.


1 Amber Neban (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                     10.52.46
2 Christine Thorburn (USA) Webcor Builders                                             0.33.53
3 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light                  0.42.06
4 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders                                                    0.54.47
5 Katharine Carroll (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team                   1.00.52
6 Katheryn Curi (USA) Webcor Builders                                                  1.00.73
7 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders                                                    1.04.30
8 Oenone Wood (Aus) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                              1.06.71
9 Felicia Gomez (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team                       1.06.95
10 Kim Anderson (USA) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                            1.07.19
11 Anne Samplonius (Can) Team                                          1.10.04
12 Leigh Hobson (Can) Team Cheerwine                                                   1.13.39
13 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders                                                    1.15.32
14 Beverley Harper (USA) Webcor Builders                                               1.19.02
15 Chrissy Ruiter (USA) Team Cheerwine                                                 1.22.94
16 Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                     1.23.81
17 Kori Seehafer (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                     1.24.09
18 Brooke Ourada (USA) Team Cheerwine                                                  1.24.75
19 Chantal Beltman (Ned) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                         1.29.39
20 Stacy Marple (USA) Team TIBCO                                                       1.29.47
21 Allison Powers (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light
22 Alex Wrubleski (Can) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light                1.29.68
23 Meredith Miller (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                   1.30.33
24 Jill McLaughlin (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                 1.30.66
25 Andrea Dvorak (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light                 1.36.59
26 Jessica Phillips (USA) Team                                         1.38.49
27 Suzanne de Goede (Ned) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                        1.44.01
28 Kristin Sanders (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team                    1.46.48
29 Melissa Holt (USA) Team                                             1.49.22
30 Suz Weldon (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                             1.50.25
31 Laura Van Gilder (USA) Team Cheerwine                                               1.51.48
32 Emily Van Meter (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                                  1.53.38
33 Alex Rhodes (Aus) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                             1.55.20
34 Lauren Franges (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                    1.56.26
35 Marisa Asplund (USA) Team TIBCO                                                     1.57.24
36 Betina Hold (USA) Team Cheerwine                                                    2.01.07
37 Carmen McNellis (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team                    2.01.25
38 Heather Labance (USA) Advil/Chapstick                                               2.01.70
39 Sarah Bamberger (USA) Team Cheerwine                                                2.03.27
40 Sally Annis (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                                      2.06.62
41 Helen Kelly (Aus) Webcor Builders                                                   2.08.03
42 Alison Bergeson (USA) Advil/Chapstick                                               2.08.55
43 Victoria Bastide (USA) Team TIBCO                                                   2.08.87
44 Katie Lambden (USA) Team TIBCO                                                      2.09.24
45 Tina Pic (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light                      2.10.91
46 Nichole Wangsgard (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling                              2.15.07
47 Martina Patella (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                 2.15.31
48 Kristen LaSasso (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                   2.16.70
49 Kristen Robbins (Can) Advil/Chapstick                                               2.18.16
50 Sharon Allpress (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                 2.20.38
51 Anne Guzman (Can) Team Kenda Tire                                                   2.20.68
52 Alison Testroete (Can) Team                                         2.20.85
53 Katharine Lundby (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                2.21.43
54 Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (USA) Advil/Chapstick                                          2.23.11
55 Rebecca Larson (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team                     2.23.26
56 Courtenay Brown (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                 2.29.29
57 Dale Tye (NZl) Hub Racing                                                           2.31.56
58 Laura Bowles (USA) Advil/Chapstick                                                  2.33.55
59 Taitt Sato (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team                                      2.36.04
60 Patria Lanfranchi (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                      2.37.53
61 Kelly Benjamin (USA) Team Cheerwine                                                 2.38.53
62 Jennifer Reither (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                       2.38.64
63 Brenda Lyons (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                      2.38.68
64 Sarah Uhl (USA) Team Cheerwine                                                      2.39.44
65 Tracy Kubas (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                     2.40.94
66 Nicole Evans (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                      2.48.96
67 Jennifer Joynt (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                                   2.49.57
68 Anke Wichmann (Ger) T-Mobile Women's Professional Cycling                           2.52.02
69 Trish Cohen (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                            2.52.35
70 Mackenzie Dickey (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light              2.53.14
71 Julie Marceau (Can) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                          2.53.20
72 Brooke Miller (USA) Team TIBCO
73 Liza Rachetto (USA) Team TIBCO                                                      2.53.30
74 Samantha VanGerbig (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                               2.54.95
75 Kristin Wentworth (USA) Team Kenda Tire                                             2.56.72
76 Gabriela Gonzalez-Ferrat (Mex) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling                       2.57.46
77 Susan Hedstrom (USA) Advil/Chapstick                                                2.57.87
78 Robin Farina (USA) Target Training                                                  2.58.67
79 Stacy Spencer (Can) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light                 2.58.85
80 Tamyra Barnard (USA) Team Kenda Tire                                                3.01.59
81 Krystal Jeffs (NZl) Hub Racing                                                      3.01.97
82 Heidi Goldberg (USA) Team Kenda Tire                                                3.02.16
83 Betsy Galenti (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                   3.04.24
84 Laura Yoisten (Can) Webcor Builders                                                 3.08.31
85 Kari Bolton (USA) TiCyclies/Avanti Racing                                           3.11.15
86 Sarah Caravella (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team                    3.12.82
87 Jenette Williams (USA) Hub Racing                                                   3.14.33
88 Lara Kroepsch (USA) TEAm Lipton                                                     3.15.24
89 Moriah Mac Gregor (Can) Target Training                                             3.15.47
90 Jennifer Wilson (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                        3.16.11
91 Allison Beall (USA) TiCyclies/Avanti Racing                                         3.16.31
92 Catherine Walberg (USA) Team Kenda Tire                                             3.16.69
93 Jennifer Chapman (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling                               3.16.86
94 Yukie Nakamura (Jpn) Team TIBCO                                                     3.20.52
95 Carolyn Eller (USA) TiCyclies/Avanti Racing                                         3.25.22
96 Carine Bester (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling                                  3.26.07
97 Joelle Numainville (Can) Team                                       3.31.60
98 Becky Broeder (USA) Hub Racing                                                      3.32.64
99 Laura Hines (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                     3.34.96
100 Kristin Keim (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                                    3.40.86
101 Kat Clark (USA) Target Training                                                    3.41.57
102 Melissa Sanborn (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                       3.42.84
103 Christina DeKray (USA) Target Training                                             3.43.77
104 Sheba Farrin (USA) Hub Racing                                                      3.44.35
105 Lana Atchley (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                   3.46.10
106 Amy McGuire (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                                     3.54.79
107 Laurel Green (USA) Target Training                                                 3.58.02
108 Elizabeth Nettles (USA) TiCyclies/Avanti Racing                                    4.08.62
109 Kara Vidaca (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling
110 Allison Carter (USA) Team Kenda Tire                                               4.09.43
111 Debbie Dust (USA) Team Kenda Tire                                                  4.09.52
112 Caitlyn McCullough (USA) Team TIBCO                                                4.18.39
113 Diane Miller (USA) Wachovia-IBC                                                    4.21.71
114 Priscilla Calderon (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                             4.24.81
115 Jeanie Bihlmaier (USA) Team Bikehugger / TRIA                                      4.41.38
116 Lea Adams (USA) STAHL/SC Velo                                                      5.47.20
117 Megan Elliot (USA) Target Training                                                 9.10.40
DNS Sarah Tillotson (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light
DNS Chamblee Abernethy (USA) Team Kenda Tire
DNS Catherine Powers (USA) Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Cycling Team
DNS Kate Patterson (USA) TiCyclies/Avanti Racing
DNS Michelle Beltran (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling
DNS Hiroko Shimada (Jpn) Target Training
DNS Kathleen Billington (USA) Target Training

Tour of the Gila, 2007

Tour of the Gila, 2007

Stage 1 – 26km individual time trial

I was really looking forward to the time trial today. My fitness has returned and the course is not purely a climbers course so I felt confident I could post a good time. I rode the course yesterday and felt really strong when I opened the system up on both my TT bike and road bike.

There was a really strong tail wind on the way out so I was conscious of leaving enough in the tank to get back strongly. The course was 26km out and back. The profile climbed immediately from the start line for 7km, descended for 3km, then climbed again for 3km to the turn around point. I used a 53×11 for the descents and climbed mostly in the 39×21 gear ring. I used a front Easton deep dish carbon wheel and a rear disc.

Although my time trial position is not perfect yet, I felt strong today. I will be getting my new Orbea Ordu next week, so today I rode a TT bike from last year. The frame is too small, and with a drop of 17cm from the seat to the bars, I know I am compromising some power. In this extreme position, I got some serious aches in my neck, shoulders, crouch and gluts. Ouch!!

My only error today was not warming up enough in my TT zone before the start. I thought with a 26km TT I could warm into it, during the race, but as it climbed from the start line I should have opened the system fully before starting. After 15mins of racing, I could reach my TT heart rate and focused on catching riders in front of me. I caught 3 riders and was completely cooked as I crossed the finish line.

Stage results are:

1 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 39.47
2 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 0.15 sec behind
3 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders 0.30 sec behind
4 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 1mins 03 sec behind
5 Anne Samplonius (Can) Team 1mins 08 sec behind
8 Beverly Harper (USA) Webcor Builders 1mins 52 sec behind
13 Helen Kelly (Aus) Webcor Builders 2mins 49 sec behind

My polar statistics for today:
ITT altitude at start 1700m (5,600ft) above sea level
Average speed 36.6km/hr
Maximum speed 74.7km/hr
Average cadence 91
Max heartrate 183

Our team is so strong at time trialling and now we are perfectly posed to defend the leaders jersey tomorrow.

Stage 2 – 116km Silvercity to Mogollon road race

Polar statistics:
1495m (4900ft) of climbing
Summit 2036m (6680ft)
Average cadence 86
Calories burned 2877kcal (720cal per hour)
Duration of race 4hrs 10mins

Today’s stage was quite undulating (4,900ft of climbing) with a 17km climb to Mogollon, the summit at 2036m above sea level.

With Rach in the leaders jersey by only 15sec, we were keen to extend her lead over Bausch (Colavita) and did this by successfully leading her out to win both intermediate time bonus sprints.

Jessica Phillips (Expresscopy) soloed off the front after the second sprint and gained a maximum 3mins on the peloton. I was put on the front with Bev and Laura to set tempo and bring her back. It was a strong cross headwind and to her credit we chased for 40km and she was still 1min 30sec up the road. With 8km to the base of the final climb I was left to chase and gave it everything. My race was over at the base and with Bob encouraging me in the radio, we caught Phillips as the climb started. With nothing left in the tank, I clicked into the 39×27, found a powerbar and started eating. I had burned nearly 3000kcal and I was starving. I did a quick calculation to figure out how much time I would have to cross the finish line (to avoid being time cut) and then rode slowly up the 17km climb, chatting to my team mate Bev, and conserving for tomorrow.

After my job was done for the day, Mara got active. She attacked shortly after the road tilted up and rode away from the remnants of the peloton. She won the stage by 1min 4sec over Ourada (Cheerwine). Rachel kept in contact with Bausch (Colavita) and finished 4th (1min 33sec behind).

Webcor transferred the leaders jersey from Rach to Mara today with Webcor now sitting 1st and 2nd in individual GC. Amber is 5th, 3mins 8sec down in the individual classification.

Stage results:

1 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders 3.44.09
2 Brooke Ourada (NZl) Cheerwine 1.04
3 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 1.31
4 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 1.33
5 Anne Samplonius (Can) Team 1.40
8 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 2.20

GC situation

1 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders 4.24.11
2 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 0.58
3 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 1.26
4 Anne Samplonius (Can) Team 2.33
5 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 3.08

Stage 3 – 126km Inner loop road race

Today was an epic day of racing. My legs felt so tired but I warmed up and soon brought them to life.

Polar statistics:
1750m (5,740ft) of climbing
Average cadence 85
Calories burned 2892kcal
Duration of race 4hrs 7mins

The first intermediate time bonus sprint was at the 15km mark. Amber started the lead out and with 1km to go, we turned hard right onto an open freeway and I took over. The road climbed gradually but I kept it in the big ring. I rode hard against the gutter and only gave Rach enough room to get a sit. With 200m to go, I moved over and let her through. I looked back and the peloton was a further 200m back. Needless to say, Rach easily won this sprint.

Bausch (Colavita) suddenly realised the danger and attacked. The peloton went into a single line and I jumped in as they came by me. The road continued to climb and I quickly started sliding out the back. My legs were cooked. I was soon in the cars and watched the race disappear. I looked down and realised I had 110km to go. Not good! I did my time cut calculation and worked out I needed to finish the race in about 4.5hrs. I radioed to another teammate Laura, who was just in front of me. She sat up and waited for me. Together we settled in to team time trial mode, trading 30sec turns. We caught about 6 riders and with 8 of us, we managed to keep a reasonable speed.

Up the road, Amber got into a break and this neutralised the attacks from other teams. About 30km later, Bev was also dropped and that left only 3 Webcor riders in the front group.

After 85km of chasing, we dropped into a valley and amazingly we could see the race about 3km in front of us. We had been in our little group for 2.5hrs and never thought we would chase back on. It was an awesome sight to see the cars and with renewed energy we encouraged one another to pull hard turns. As we came through the cars I radioed to Bob that I needed a coke. He thought it was Amber, having last seen me 2.5hrs ago, and told her to drop back. Next thing he knew, I was beside the team car, screaming “coke, coke”. The look on his face and on Bernard’s, the mechanic, was brilliant. I have never seen them both so happy to see me.

I grabbed my coke and rolled all the way to the front of the peloton. I turned and waved to everyone and yelled out “I’m back”. I was so excited to be back and able to help the team again. I quickly found out it was “groupo compacto” (all together) and settled in near the front. Almost immediately, the attacks started again and for the next 30km we were busy chasing.

Nothing got away and the race finished in a bunch kick. I led Rach out from 1km and dropped her off onto the Expresscopy train. Dotsie Bausch (Colavita) took the stage win, ahead of Rach with Gina Grain rounding out the podium.

Stage results:
1 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 4.04.10
2 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 0.03
3 Gina Grain (Can) Team
4 Anne Samplonius (Can) Team 0.06
5 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders
6 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 0.09

GC situation

1 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders 8.28.27
2 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 0.35
3 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 1.05
4 Anne Samplonius (Can) Team 2.33
5 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 3.01

Stage 4 – 44km downtown silvercity criterium

Today I was on the podium, finishing 2nd in the criterium. Here is what happened.

Webcor’s overall position in Tour of the Gila was dominating as we lined up for the 26 mile criterium in downtown Silvercity.  Mara Abbott was wearing the pink leader’s jersey, Rach Heal was 2nd in GC, Amber Rais 5th, whilst Bev, Laura and I were all looking strong and working hard to protect our GC leaders.

The 1 mile course was located in Boullard st, Silvercity.  The finishing straight was lined with many art galleries, popular cafes and ice cream shops.  The weather was rather cool with really strong gusty winds, however, the finishing straight was lined with many local spectators.  The course had a 200m kicker (600ft climb) on the back straight, as well as a super fast descent into the home straight.  There was a rowdy party on the hill with people drinking, ringing bells and generally having a blast.

Our plan in the criterium was to rest Mara and Rach as much as possible so they were fresh for the final “Gila Monster’ stage tomorrow.  Their job was to sit in and not hit the wind at all.  Meanwhile, Amber, Bev, Laura and I were given the green light to cover moves early, get aggressive in the second half, and go for a stage win.

Everyone warmed up well on trainers prior to the start which helped the heavy leg feeling we all had from 3 days of racing at altitude.  As we had been on the podium every day so far, Amber jokingly asked “whose turn is it to podium today”.  I pulled on my Lake shoe covers, smiled cheekily, and said “Oh ok, I will”.

On the 2nd lap, I covered an attack by Meshy Holt (expresscopy).  Three other riders followed, Jill McLauglin (Touchstone), Victoria Bastidi (Tibco) and Andrea Dovorac (Colavita).  The peloton didn’t react and soon the break had a 20 second gap on the field.  With no GC riders in the break to threaten our overall position, I was given the go ahead to work in the break.

The wind made the course difficult and the short sharp climb hurt everyone’s legs.  The group worked well together and with 10 laps to go, the time gap had extended to 1min 50sec.  Back in the peloton team Cheerwine had missed the break and tried several times to bridge, however they were quickly re-absorbed.

Both Meshy Holt and I stopped working with 3 laps remaining, each eyeing the other.  I was nervous about a late solo attempt.  With over 2 minutes on the field with one lap to go, the cat and mouse game started.  The pace of the break slowed and all 5 riders started maneuvering about, watching each other.  I quickly moved to the side of the street so I could watch for the attacks from one side only. This would make it easier to chase if someone attacked.

Meshy Holt (express copy) tried first, attacking in the head wind section after the 1st corner.  I jumped hard and got to her wheel before the 2nd corner.  Meshy sat up and Bastidi (Tibcor) attacked hard up the climb, getting a 10m gap.  Jill McLauglin (Touchstone) chased with me on her wheel.

The break reached the final corner doing 50km/hr (30 miles/hr). Jill passed Victoria on the outside and had so much speed through corner that she opened a 10m gap as she entered the finishing straight.  Jill immediately started sprinting with me desperately trying to close the gap.  With 50m to go, I drew level with Jill and the two of us drag raced to the finish.  After 2 days of working hard, my legs couldn’t match McLauglin, who took the win by a wheel length. I was pleased with my return to form and to be back on the podium.  Victoria Bastidi (Tibco) rounded out the podium in 3rd.

Webcor warming up: Rachel Heal, Mara Abbott, Me, Bev Harper, Laura Yoisten, Amber Rais.

GC situation going into the final day remains the same with Mara in pink and Rach in 2nd.

Stage 5 – 116km Gila monster road race

The final day was appropriately called the Gila monster. After the last few days, I woke up feeling wiped. I was excited and confident that we were going to win the Tour of the Gila, but I was thankful that today was the last day. I need a day off.

Polar statistics:
1720m (5,640ft) of climbing
Average cadence 86
Calories burned 2965kcal
Duration of race 3hrs 55mins

Today we were happy to get Amber into a break with some non threatening GC riders. This would enable us to move her up in GC and we could sit back and force Colavita and Expresscopy to work. Well, the plan worked and after the first sprint (again won by Rach), Amber followed a move by Team Tibco and a break was formed.

For the first time in the tour, I could sit in and roll along. Oh how much easier it is to just follow wheels and not drive on the front all day. However, the cruisy ride came to an end as the time gap extended out to over 6 minutes and we decided to bring it down a little. Amber was sitting in the break taking it easy and resting for the major climbs, while Bev, Laura and I joined Colavita in setting tempo.

After about 70km, Rach suddenly flatted so I stopped and waited for her. After a speedy wheel change by Bernard, it was only a 2min effort to get her safely back into the chase group. I rested for a few minutes then went back to the front and helped chase the break. The major climbing commenced at the 85km until the finish at 116km. My job was done at this point and again I found something good to eat from my jersey pocket and started climbing.

In the final 30km, there was a climb with steep switchbacks up to 2,225m above sea level before it descended 10km and then climbed again to 2095m. Amber climbed like a mountain goat and as her break shattered, she sat on Marisa Asplund (Team Tibco). Marisa managed to ride away solo with 2km to go, but Amber rode strongly to finish 2nd.

Rach and Mara succeeded in finishing 1st and 2nd in GC and crossed the line with their arms raised together, 2mins 43sec behind Asplund (Team Tibco). Amber just missed out on finishing 3rd in GC but rode brilliantly to finish 4th overall. Webcor won the team competition by about 9 minutes and it was rewarding to be acknowledged on the podium together to celebrate a great week of committed team work.

Stage results:

1 Marisa Asplund (USA) Team Tibco 3.34.52
2 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 1.59
3 Melissa Holt (NZl) Team 2.07

Final Overall GC:
1 Mara Abbott (USA) Webcor Builders 13.20.39
2 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 0.25 secs behind
3 Dotsie Bausch (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 1min 39 sec behind
4 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 1min 57 sec behind

Webcor Builders Team – wins overall individual and team GC

Redlands Classic, 2007

Redlands Classic, 2007

Stage 1 – Prologue – 5km

Photo @ CJ Farquharson,

The first stage of the Redlands Classic was a 5km uphill individual time trial. The first 800m was flat and then it was all uphill. I decided to use my road bike, Orbea Orca, with clip on carbon aerobars, along with extra light carbon Eastern Tempest II wheels. I wore an aero bell TT helmet in the hope of shaving off extra milli seconds.

After advice from fellow team mate Christine Thorburn, who finished 2nd, I rode the first few km’s at 80% until I reached the “wall”. I then cranked up the effort to 100% and went into the red zone for the final 4 minutes. I crossed the line heaving and felt like vomiting.

I finished 2mins 08 seconds behind the winner, Amber Neben (CS Velo) and 1min 30sec behind my team mate Christine. In fact, Webcor had 4 riders finish in the top 7 so we headed into stage 2 with plenty of fire power.

Stage 2 – Oak Glen Road Race – 115km

Today’s stage of 115km included 2 intermediate sprints and 3 Queen of the mountain sprints for the green and red jersey competitions, respectively. I had great legs today and was happy to see my fitness returning. The race was quite sedate until the 30km mark, when a number of attacks started. I got into a break of 10 soon after the first sprint and we quickly gained a 1min10sec lead.

Team Lipton were keen to win the sprint jersey so our break was caught just before the second sprint and Kori Seehafer (Lipton) successfully won the intermediate sprint and will be wearing the green jersey tomorrow.

After the 1st Queen of the mountain sprint, Webcor became active and a huge attack by Kathryn Curi (Webcor) created another break off the front. A few teams that missed the move, got across to her group and this forced yellow jersey winner, Neben to start chasing. This was our tactic and we were pleased to see it executed so perfectly. Kathryn then dropped her break away companions and with 15km to go, set off solo with up Oak Glen mountain to the finish. Neben (SC Velo) was forced to chase whilst Mara Abbott (Webcor) and Christine Thorburn (Webcor) sat on her wheel, patiently waiting. Kathryn was caught with 2km remaining and Abbott immediately attacked. Neben was unable to respond and Abbott rode away to take a solo win. Neben finished 2nd, Thorburn 3rd and Curi 4th.

As I am not a GC rider for this race, I conserved as much as possible up the final climb, so I am ready to race hard in the criterium tomorrow. Heading into tomorrow’s stage, we now have positions 2nd, 3rd and 4th in GC and we are also leading the team classification. It all looks good to do try and secure position number one tomorrow.

Photo @ CJ Farquharson,

Stage 3 – Criterium – 40km

The criterium circuit was a 9 corner technical loop. Our primary goal today was to erode the time difference between our 3 GC riders and Amber Neben. With 3 Webcor riders who could move into the yellow jersey and another 5 of us making the race fast, we quickly put Neben into danger.

Christine Thorburn followed the perfect move after the first intermediate sprint, launching herself from the peleton with 3 sprinters. All 3 were keen for a stage win, while Christine’s motive was to find enough time to claim the yellow jersey. The break worked well and stayed away until the finish. Not interested in the stage win, Christine drove the final 2 laps to move 26 seconds closer to Neben.

My job was to help control the main field and not let anyone drive the pace. Leading into tomorrow’s final stage, we remain 2nd, 3rd and 4th in GC, however we only need to find 32 seconds to claim the ultimate victory.

Stage 4 – Sunset Road Race – 105km

Photo @ CJ Farquharson,

Today’s stage was our final chance to secure the yellow jersey. The Sunset loop was a 10km circuit that we did 9 times. It twisted through the suburban streets of Redlands and included an energy zapping climb every lap as well as super fast technical descents and tight corners.

The neutral zone from the start/finish up a long gradual climb to the sunset loop was done behind a convertible at ‘race pace’. Most of the field were suffering as the green flag was waved and the race started. There was a Queen of the mountain sprint on the first lap and the peleton went into a single line as the climbers took over up the main ascent. I started the climb near the front but by the top, I was in a small group about 200m behind the field. I tried to chase but felt like I was going up and down on the spot. My race was over and I never saw the front group again.

Up the road, a group of four including race leader, Amber Neben (SC Velo) and Mara Abbott (Webcor) rode away from the peleton and stayed away until the finish. Abbott repeatedly attacked Neben but was unable to shake the yellow clad leader. They finished together with Neben successfully winning the Redlands Classic, 32 seconds ahead of Abbott. Kathryn Curi (Webcor) rounded out the final podium position whilst Team Webcor took victory in the team competition.

And now it is back to the Portola Valley, south of San Fran for some well deserved rest before I focus on training for the Sea Otter Classic.

Overall Results

!st Amber Neben (SC Velo)
2nd Mara Abbott (Webcor)
3rd Kathryn Curi (Webcor)

Me 43rd
Team Competition – 1st Webcor

Photo @ CJ Farquharson,

Back row: Christine Thorburn, Mara Abbott (Queen of mountain winner), Laura Yoisten, Beverly Harper
Front row: Kathryn Curi, Amber Rais, Helen Kelly, Rachel Heal

Quad Knopf Sequoia Valley Criterium

Quad Knopf Sequoia Valley Criterium

On Sunday 18 March, I raced the Quad Knopf Sequoia Valley Criterium with 3 of my Webcor team mates, Amber Rais (USA), Rachel Heal (Great Britain) and Laura Yoisten (Canada).

Amber and Rach both felt a little sore from the previous day’s time trial effort, however, after our warm up, we were all fired up and ready to race hard.  The course was flat and fast with 6 corners per lap.  Each lap was 0.7 miles or 1km for the metric readers.

Our strategy for the race was to keep our sprinter, Laura protected and as rested as possible for the finish.  Rach, Amber and I had the job of watching for attacks and ensuring that at least one Webcor rider was represented in any break that went up the road.

The race was fast with attacks starting on lap 1 by tmobile.  Riders from Colavita, Aarons and Cheerwine teams also rode aggressively and kept the pace high for the entire race.

With so many good sprinters in the field, a bunch finish seemed inevitable and none of the many breaks ever gained more than a 10 second advantage.  With 10 laps to go, the field was together and the major teams jostled at the front to help position their sprinters.

Unfortunately, there was some confusion towards the finish as the lap counter erroneously showed 2 laps to go and then proceeded to display 3 laps to go on the following lap.  As a result, a few riders sprinted for the line, only to hear the bell ring, signally one lap to go.

Showing good early season form, Susanne de Goede (tmobile) took line honours, ahead of Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) and Rebecca Larson (Aarons).  Laura sprinted to 6th overall, Amber 8th , Rach 16th and I was 13th.

Central Valley Classic

Central Valley Classic

My first race in California was the Central Valley Classic, in Fresno. Here is what happened.
Photo @ CJ Farquharson,

Road Race Result – 54th 108km Sunny, 17C

I arrived in San Francisco four days ago and am almost sleeping normally, although a time change of 16 hours usually takes me at least 7 days. Fortunately the weather was similar to Melbourne, so I didn’t have to also cope with being cold.

The road race consisted of two laps of a 54km loop. It was hilly (2500ft of climbing per lap) and my legs felt horrible from the very first pedal stroke. I hoped they would feel better after warming up but it was to be one of those “suffer days”.

With tomorrow’s long time trial, our team goal today was to not let any good time triallists get into a break. I rode near the front and chased as many attacks as my legs would allow me. On the second lap, Colavita became active on the climb and I started sliding out the back of the field. By the top of the 5km climb I was in the cars and gratefully took a bottle from the team car, as it slowly disappeared in front of me.

Fortunately, I was just ahead of a group of 30 riders that had also become a victim of the climb. I joined them and together we worked to try and catch back on. It took about 10km but soon we were in the cars and rejoined the race, although my legs were hammered. During my chase back on, a group of 8 had escaped up the road, including team mate, Mara Abbott. Her job was just to sit in the break but not to work, as we had team mate, Christine Thorburn (bronze medallist at the 2006 World ITT Championships) in the main field.

The break was caught with 2km to go, just as my energy reserves ran dry. I was gapped from the main field and finished 45sec behind. Tina Pic (Colavita) won the bunch kick and would be wearing the leaders jersey in tomorrows time trial. All my other team mates finished in the main field.

Our self contained apartments in Fresno, had a cold pool and hot spa so I returned from the race and did some hot and cold plunging. After a massage and food, I felt revitalised and ready to start preparing for tomorrow’s time trial.

Individual Time Trial Result – 29th 26km Sunny, 25C

After only being back on the bike in training for 8 weeks, I was being realistic about my hopes of doing a great time trial. My Orbea TT bike felt fast and extremely aero. After only being on my time trial bike for 1hr a few days earlier, my hamstrings and adductors felt stretched and sore. I hadn’t been on a time trial bike for 13 months and it is a position that requires getting used to.

As I warmed up, I realised how tired I felt from yesterdays hilly road course. My heartrate refused to go above 170, and I usually time trial at 188.

The time trial course was completely flat with a gentle 1km rise to the finish. There was a headwind for the first 20km which made things hard but I put in a solid ride and finished 29th, 4mins10sec behind my team mate, Christine. She succeeded in earning herself the leaders jersey by 23seconds, over Dotsie Bausch (Colavita). Webcor finished the day with 4 riders in the top 10 so we were extremely happy with our position to win the tour tomorrow.

Our director, Karen Brems, took us to a restaurant in Fresno, where we celebrated our day with a Napa Valley red and a grain feed grilled steak.

Criterium Result – 25th 40km Sunny, 29C

In the morning, I did a 40 minute easy spin on the trainer and tried to easy the soreness out of my legs. I ached all over and felt worried about my ability to help defend our leaders jersey.

We rode to the course and then did a final warm up on the trainers to get the heartrate up. I drank a redbull on the start line and hoped it would give me wings in the criterium. The course had a 180 degree corner which zapped the legs. It was important to come out of the corner in an easy gear to try not to trash my already tired legs.

I started the race and felt great. I still don’t have my usual power to close gaps easily but I was able to ride at the front and cover the dangerous attacks. We were in a fortunate position to have a 23sec buffer and didn’t need to worry about the intermediate sprint that had bonus seconds up for grabs.

The race stayed together and the field sprint was again won by Tina Pic. Team mate Laura rode well to finish in the top 10 and most importantly, we succeeded in defending Christine’s leaders jersey. So after my first race, the Webcor builders team has already put a win on the score board. I am sure we will have many more successes during 2007.

Final General Classification results for team webcor

Christine Thorburn – 1st
Katheryn Curi – 3rd
Rachel Heal – 6th
Mara Abbott – 9th
Helen Kelly – 30th
Amber Rais – withdrew from the final stage with a slight leg strain (but has since made a full recovery).

Geelong World Cup, 2007

Geelong World Cup, 2007
My first race for the 2007 season was the Geelong world cup, held in Victoria, Australia. After only being back on the bike for 6 weeks I was certainly a little apprehensive about my level of fitness but definitely very excited to be back racing again. The forced rest for 3 months certainly made me realise how much I loved racing and as soon as the doctor gave me the “all clear” I was so motivated to train hard and start racing again.

I joined the NSW Institute of Sport team for the Geelong world cup, with fellow 2005 and 2006 worlds team mate, Nat Bates. Being unsure of my current form, my goal in the race was to look for opportunities to try and get into a small break and to support my team mates. Fellow Victorian Institute and Carnegie member, Peta Mullins was also racing with me.

The international women’s field for the first world cup for 2007 was first class with numerous Olympians and world cup winners out to try and secure UCI points. I was certainly a little nervous as I warmed up and looked dubiously at the black clouds forming. The weather was supposed to be 33C with no rain but thunder around 10am confirmed that rain was on its way.

The race was 120km, consisting of 8 laps with a 1.5km climb per lap. The circuit was almost the same as previous years but was reversed in direction. Also, the finish had been changed which eliminated 2 very dangerous corners within the final 800m. This year the final 3km was completely straight with a gradual downhill section only 600m from the finish, so it was going to be fast, if it came down to a field sprint.

My legs felt surprisingly good and in the opening few kilometres, I rode near the front and settled into the race. Suddenly, the rain started. Racing in the rain is never fun. Grit and oil flicks up from everyone’s tyres and finds its way into your eyes, mouth and makes you look like you’ve been playing a footy game.

An Australian company, Gravity Zero, had given me some brand new carbon wheels to use in the race. They had an innovative hub that almost completely eliminates the initial lag that happens when pressure is applied to my pedals. I was keen to experience this latest technology and give valuable feedback to the director of the company. However, with my pre-race nervousness I had not thought about the approaching rain, and had dry weather tyres pressure in my tyres. As the rain started, I felt my tyres start to slide about. There was a sharp turn and steep descent before the 1.5km climb which was covered in a greasy slippery oil. At least 20 riders, including me, lost control as we rode over this oil, and slide out across the road. I hit hard on my right side, and took skin off my hip, calf and elbow – not a good start to the race.

With panic that my race was over in the first 5km, I jumped back on my bike and started chasing. The peloton was about 1km in front of me, but fortunately, with so many girls crashing, I caught back on by the end of the first lap. My whole right leg ached but the pedaling action helped loosen the stiffness and I soon forgot about the discomfort, as I was more focused about my lack of tyre traction.

For the next 2 laps, I slide around the corners and prayed that I would stay upright. I had virtually zero grip on the road and it was quite scary as I felt my wheels slipping on the corners. Whilst I was focused on not crashing, my team mate Nat, got into a break of 3 on the next lap. I moved to the front and helped slow down the pace and hoped this would increase her chances of the break staying away until the finish. A group of 8 more riders crossed to the break and this was a missed opportunity for me. It is always better to have two team mates in a break to increase the chances of a win. Soon after, I saw Sara Carrigan (Queensland Institute) attack and thought this was my ride across to the break. With only 80% fitness, I had to dig deep to get to her wheel but she sat up as soon as she saw that she wasn’t alone.

For the next 5 laps, there was no action in the peloton. The break was 3mins ahead and as each of the major teams had a rider in the break, the peloton was content to roll along. Fortunately, the rain stopped and a hot north wind developed, and soon dried out the roads. The wind became increasingly strong and I chose to conserve as much as possible by staying off the very front.

On lap 7, Team Tmobile got to the front and decided to bring back the break. They wanted to set up a field sprint for either Oenone Wood or Ina Teutenberg. Within 1 lap, the 3min gap was swallowed up and the race was altogether with 15km to go.

My lack of fitness was starting to show as I struggled to hold a wheel. Up the climb for the 2nd last time, I was gapped from the front group. I didn’t have the strength to chase back on. I finished in 54th place, with a small a group, about 4 minute behind the winner.

On the penultimate lap, 2006 World Cup winner, Nicole Cooke (Raleigh Lifeforce) attacked on the climb, with Oenone Wood (tmobile) and Nicki Eggerd (AIS) going with her. They held on to slim gap all the way to finish, with Cooke taking line honours, ahead of Wood and Eggerd.

Now it is back to Melbourne for me to pack my bags and head to San Francisco where I join my new team, Webcor Builders Cycling team. Stay tuned for news about my new bikes, new team mates, new training ground and new sponsors.

Happy pedaling.

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