It’s a “jolly good evening” in New Zealand, as the Kiwi reporter on the local news would say. It was a long journey here on Tuesday, and as a result we missed a day of training. There wasn’t much conversation on the way to the airport, until a driver tried to merge into us. Nicko held his ground and as the driver came past…swearing and despondent…he TRIED to propel spit at us over his passenger seat, the 1-metre gap between cars and through our window! Unsuccessfully as you can imagine. We met with Carla and Bird at the airport, Carla with some exciting news…and a very special Georg Jensen ring to go with it!! For those of you that don’t follow, she is now engaged =) My mood quickly changed as I tried to smuggle some toothpaste, juice, jam and hummus through customs…slightly illegal. After Wazza paid up for our time trial bet I had money and time on my hands for tax free shopping. So $320 and a new camera later, I finally boarded my flight to Wellington.
We joined roughly 100 girls to be welcomed to racing by a local group performing the haka dance for us. To say the least, it was scary…in an exciting way! On the way to the hour criterium, Tiff, who we’ve nicknamed “Tom Tom” (a version of GPS) due to her uncanny sense of direction, finally got lost! But only by one street, so I think her reputation remains intact. She ran into more problems when on the second lap she went head first over her handlebars after colliding with a large cone! Some slight scarring and a bike change later she was fighting fierce. It took me 10 minutes to ride into the race, and after I did the legs felt good. The team rode well, covering every move before Spratty got herself into the winning break. While Bird was sitting roadside trying to remove a plastic bag that had swallowed her rear cluster in the final lap…Spratty was atop the podium as the leader of the young rider classification. And with fame comes fans…while Spratty and I were contemplating directions on the way home, we were stopped by an enthusiastic driver asking for signatures…very flattering!
Last year I thought the view was magnificent. This year I just felt extremely carsick while driving the hour over windy, undulating terrain to and from Masterton. To make it worse, we have to endure it four times in two days! Our hire van seems to struggle over the climbs and if it makes it through the week I will be extremely impressed. Stage 2, covering just shy of 100kms, was a relatively cruisy one…hills aside of course. On reflection; my positioning was poor, confidence was low, and having the Chinese run me into a roadside ditch up a mid-race climb probably didn’t help either! It was a good day for the team, with Carla making the split over the QOM accompanied by all the big name riders. Oenone Wood took the stage, with Carla riding herself into top 10 GC and the young rider jersey. Tiff, Spratt and Josie finished in the main bunch; I rolled in with the big-name sprinters, while Bird was wishing for some company on the long lonely roads.
Results: NZCT Women's Tour, Stage 1, Hutt City, Criterium, 1hr + 3laps
Results: NZCT Women's Tour, Stage 2, Martinborough - Masterton, 99.6kms