Thursday, 31 July 2008


Despite the slightly fairytale life I live here in Europe, life goes on back home in Australia. ‘Big Jim’ celebrates his 50th birthday, our Labrador puppy Sasha gains many kilograms, and my gorgeous niece Leila Lee has started on her first words. Not surprisingly, ‘Peta’ is not yet in her vocabulary, but my twin, Angie, insists that the little one is still my biggest fan! Mum has a new hairstyle and Dad a new X-Box 360. My brother, Matt, has easily recovered from a broken nose obtained in karate training a while back, and the youngest, Kerry, is no doubt busy raiding my wardrobe of all my clothes while I’m away! I’m not one to get all sappy, but the closer I get to my departure date from Europe, the more I seem to miss them all.

In the ‘bigger’ world, the Tour De France has come to an end with Cadel finishing second once again, and I think it’s safe to say that those in Australia lost more sleep over this than him (due to an 8-hour time difference)! Discounting a small fall during post tour celebrations, he looks ahead to Beijing with the Olympic Team, most of who have been preparing for the games in nearby Varese. I could almost say that the weather has been turned on for them, but occasionally, we endure the wrath of Mother Nature out of the bike. Carlee and I only ever get lost when it’s pissing with rain, then we decipher some random Italian directions, get lost some more, and return home with a new kind of sock line (pictured above).

Back in fairytale land, some interesting developments have been taking place. Our AIS sports physiologist, Laura Garvican, has been flooding the basement for the past few days, attempting to set up multiple ice-baths for recovery sessions after training. It sounds good…relaxing in a large yellow inflatable pool-like structure, powered by a generator with a fancy iPod dock…but at a cool 10 degrees, for 15 minutes, with whole-body numbness, you really shouldn’t be all that jealous! They came in handy after sub-max V02 testing at Mapei today, helping to remove the lactic that I didn’t want in the legs for travel tomorrow. We leave at 5am for Germany. With three days, two races, and over 30 hours of driving, I think I’ll be in desperate need of the ice-baths when I return!

Monday, 28 July 2008


So it was time, again, for a 10 hour drive, this time from France back home to Italy. It was a sad occasion, saying goodbye to our elderly neighbours, who had so nicely let us use their washing machine when ours died, and greeted us with wine and pastry treats on occasion. In fact the old man grew teary as we drove off! Departure was later than originally planned, because Carlee and I decided on the 'lets get up early and roll the legs out' thing, which sounded better when we had organised it the night before. It was far from distressing was leaving our little house behind, although, despite the lack of bench space, the epic set of stairs and...we won’t even mention the beds again…I grew to love our little home because it was ours :)

Entertainment is scarce while traveling, and time occupying games such as eye-spy became quite repetitive by the time I was 10 years old. Even as girls, we can only take so many pictures of ourselves, and rub on a certain number of bubble-gum tattoos (pictured) before the novelty wears off. So a combination of i-Pods, books and pointless conversations roam around the back seat until it’s time for a toilet stop, which comes a lot more often than the need for petrol. If you need to ‘go’, then you need to pay, 50 euro cents in fact, or sometimes just a donation. For this fee, you get clean, sanitised bathrooms, where the toilet seat is self-cleaning and everything else automatic and touch free :D hygienic!

The most difficult decision is what to buy, which is primarily based on how long it will be until our next stop, which is generally 2-3 hours, which means that you’ll find me purchasing some sort of food item every time we stop! When crossing borders, we simply pray that the van, or even the car, doesn’t get stopped at border control. What we forget to pray against is the race car breaking down. And sure enough, after putting along at 50km/hr on the autostrade, we had to pull over, re-pack the van, and leave the boys with their luggage roadside, in the hope that they would make their way home in the next three days! … It’s now 11pm, and we’re still waiting on them...

Sunday, 27 July 2008


The last day of racing saw us with one aim, to steal the young rider jersey. Technically, we would try to earn it, but after losing another 22 seconds to the jersey yesterday, maybe stealing would be the only real way to obtain it! I punctured just minutes before the start, but was with the team when escorted by police to the start line on the outskirts of town. The race started uphill, with Josie taking her E.B instructions seriously, putting herself in the first three breaks before the first climb. It was here where I punctured again! A quick change and some rather ridiculously kamikazee moves through the convoy saw me chase back on to a single file peloton. I never realised how far a group of now 95 girls could stretch!

The rule goes, that the leader on GC at the end of each day earns rights to the first shower, and today was the first time I hadn't been on the radio surrending rights to a shower in a hope that Carlee would slow the pace on the climbs! This indicates that I may just have some form :D From here on, the Cat 2's were like bumps in the road until the Cat 1 split the field. Thirty girls made the cut, and another thirty were left chasing. It was no secret that Ruth, Carlee and I, still in front bunch, started to suffer as the race for GC unfolded. We had cards left to play to take the young rider jersey, but nothing in the legs to actually play those cards! So I followed the moves and tried to hold position on the, once again, uphill finish, riding into 13th on both the stage and GC.

When the tour was over our ghost town came to life...with confetti monuments, dodgy looking rides, stuffed toy stalls and a variety of food for me to celebrate the weekend with! The locals finally came out of hiding and the owners of the bar allowed us use of their barbeque for a festive dinner. The girls pitched in with the salad, while Marc (pictured above) perfected the meat and burnt the potatoes. It was a nice way to farewell Lou before her return to Australia, and to reminisce the happenings of the week. Despite having the time of my life, I'm eager to get back to Italy...where my bed is more comfortable than the wooden planks I've been sleeping on this past week!

Results: Tour Feminin en Limousin, Stage 4, Ste Feyre-Ste Feyre, 96kms

Saturday, 26 July 2008


So Saturday came, and Saturday went, and boy am I glad it's gone! It was a tough day by any standards, with two Cat 1's, a Cat 2, and some 'should have been' categorised climbs also thrown in. Funnily enough, it was through an early sprint just prior to the first climb that the race broke up. Over 4kms, the peloton split into four groups, with the last of these calling an early 'piano' and forming groupetto. This is where the likes of Josie would stay, with Leonie (pictured below) riding off the front, and Lou chasing from behind. Lou would chase for another 80kms without a feed, before puncturing, walking 5kms bare foot, making a few calls via a strangers phone, before encountering the sag wagon. With no spare wheels, she was forced to pull out of the race, and consequently the tour!

In the race ahead, while approaching the final Cat 1, a bunch of 20 had formed with Carlee, Ruth and I present. Just as the attacks started...I punctured! With team follow cars having been pulled from the race through this section of road, I raced to the summit, descended on a punctured front wheel, until I was serviced by neutral spares. By this time Carlee was in a group of 10 up the road, so I joined a chase bunch of 8 to try and regain contact. While Mrs Dominator Carlee was setting the pace up front, I was chasing her down, and it wasn't until the final kms that she could hear instructions on race radio to sit on, a slight miscommunication and a long day that eventuated to nothing but very sore legs! We made it home in time to watch Cadel race the Tour Time Trial...maybe third time lucky next year?

Results: Tour Feminin en Limousin, Stage 3, Lauriere-Lauriere, 123kms

Friday, 25 July 2008


It had been somewhat of a sleepless night for some, with Marc falling through his fold out bed, Carlee kept awake due to my coughing fits, and the toilet still in high demand by Lou. I was excited for today, as it was considered the flattest of the three road stages consisting of three Cat 2’s and a Cat 1 climb. We were grateful that the half hour transfer took us away from St Sulpice Lauriere where we have been residing, to the smoother roads of Chassenon. Aside from a few solo attacks that were of no real danger, the race was relatively sedated. It’s a weird request, but I wish the race had been faster so as to avoid the final downpours of rain!

In the latter stages of the race, a combination of wet roads and quick descents saw four girls escape the bunch through an intermediate sprint. I didn’t envy them, and was happy to suffer to the finish in the midst of the peloton. I tried for the uphill sprint which was far from enjoyable but kept me out of trouble. Eight on the day, and now 13th on GC…it’s almost guaranteed I won’t be moving any higher than that after viewing the profile of the coming days! The girls were safely in the peloton with the exception of Josie, whose form will find her soon, and Lou, whose stomach lining we pray will return in no time! Carlee (pictured above) is our main prospect for the young rider jersey when we hit the hills tomorrow…but no pressure :D

Results: Tour Feminin en Limousin, Stage 2, Chassenon-Chassenon, 121kms

Thursday, 24 July 2008


A day trip to Cento on Saturday seemed quite epic, until realising we were faced with a 10 hour drive to France the following morning! I slept as much as possible, tried to eat as little as possible, and passed the time as girls usually do...gossiping. I have left the confines of the AIS for the week to compete with the development team for the 'Tour Feminin en Limousin', and after racing here last year, I know what I'm in for...hills, dead roads and more hills. Josie, Carlee, Leonie and I had a few days to acquaint ourselves with the course, experiencing our first Cat 1 climb within 1km of our sleepy town! We also found time for a spot of shopping in nearby Limoges, where we bought nothing but internet time and food...let’s agree that France isn’t the fashion capital.

Our fellow team-mates arrived on Tuesday night in Ruth Corset and Louise Kerr, although the only sighting I’ve had of Lou in the last 48 hours is her with her head in the toilet! She has come down with a serious case of food poisoning after consuming a suspicious looking chicken sandwich at the service station, but started the tour tonight in a hope that she couldn’t get any worse. It was a long evening with 120 girls prepared to tackle the relatively technical and slightly hilly 4.6km time trial circuit, and spirits were high after having 5 girls finish in the top 20. This gave me 11th on GC and a bad dose of pursuiter’s cough it seems. Coincidentally, Josie (pictured above at TT start), Ruth and I all finished on the exact same time!

Results: Tour Feminin en Limousin, Stage 1, Limoges-Landouge, 4.6 kms

Sunday, 20 July 2008


A week has passed since the Giro, and I thought that my body had pretty much recovered from nine days of racing...that was until we headed to Cento for the GP Carnevale d'Europa. The 6-hour return trip across Italy saw me racing my first International one-day race with the AIS, for which we had accumulated a squad of 9 (pictured bottom), undergoing a change in staff that saw John Forrest now acting as D.S and Marc Williams as mechanic. A scheduled 15 laps of a 7km circuit would total 105kms, with two bridge overpasses the only exception to a pancake flat course. An attacking race and a 1km cobbled/pave section would end up providing us with one crash, two punctures, and some seriously severe headaches!

With the help of professional recruits Oenone Wood (Columbia), Emma Rickards (Cervello), and development members Leonie Burford and Josie Tomic, we were well represented in every break. After a few attacks, Carlee and Oenone jumped off the front in what looked like the winning move...until it was no longer. With four laps remaining and the group all together, Vicki started doing some damage on the front. In the meantime, Tiff was feeling the effects of a 5-day holiday, and I, the effects of the heat, goos and cobbles combined. A group of 10 finally went clear with a now exhausted Oenone. When I tried to bridge the small gap, my headspins and small 'mouth vomits' actually disappeared! Had I owned even a minute trace of form, I would have made contact, but instead I returned to the peloton to lead out Rochelle (pictured above) for 11th.

This is where the confusion began. There were two reasons I was convinced we still had a lap to go. The first, my SRM only read 96kms and the race was supposedly 105kms. The second, we still had seven girls in the lead out when we hit 1km to go! I was of no use in the end, because it's not possible for seven girls to hit the front in that period of time! Oenone rode herself to 4th in the break, and Rochelle won the bunch sprint. It was a long and tiring drive home, and the heat had hit me hard. The bad news? I was too tired to eat. The really bad news? Carlee and I had chosen to take the race car home, and after encountering a front wheel flat during the race, we were only able to travel at 80k/hr along the autostrade!

Results: GP Carnevale d´Europa, Road Race, Cento, 105kms

Friday, 18 July 2008


The last of nine days finally approached, and I was happy to welcome it. Our team had raced well through the tour, with no causalities, and had come out almost unscathed (well actually that’s a blatant lie!). It was just another 118kms with seven laps of a 13km circuit, a small climb, some gutter action and surprisingly alright legs. It's not that nine days of racing doesn't take it's toll on your muscles (because believe me, even in groupetto I felt it!), but sometimes it takes more of a toll on other aspects of your body. It was eight consecutive days of isotonic sports drinks, power bar gels and nutella panini’s that had me feeling sick in the stomach. In fact, it had Carlee feeling somewhat similar, which called for a dose of gastrolite and ?? tablets, resolving the problem for a few days more than we would have liked!

Sara had a few bouts off the front, proving that nine days of racing doesn't even phase the Olympic champion!...while Carlee was left to be harassed by our policeman friend after finding herself poorly positioned off the back. It's such a relief to know that the tour is finally over and that I can look forward to maybe finding some form in the coming weeks. But before looking ahead, one must celebrate! So Carlee and I cruised into Varese to do some shopping, where I bought a Blackberry, a frappe, and headed home due to exhaustion! It wasn't until our new team-mates arrived in Josie Tomic (pictured above with Carlee), Leonie Burford and Rochelle Gilmore, that we had recovered enough to really celebrate, at a house BBQ in Castronno. I predict that our new introductions will not only bring results, but some classic memories!

Results: Giro Donne, Stage 8, Road Race, Desio - Desio, 118.5kms

Saturday, 12 July 2008


Stage 6 of the Giro Donne has bought us back to the familiar surroundings of Varese. After being labelled the ‘hardest day on tour’, I was grateful that I had already been acquainted with the two categorised climbs on the day. I was even MORE grateful that I had descended them in the wet, as it was bucketing down when we arrived at race start in ‘Cardano Al Campo’! I stayed within close proximity to the car to avoid my stalker prior to racing, so when he walked past and Carlee yelled out my name, I was less than impressed with her…cheers Carls =P The team was out to be aggressive today, but unfortunately we weren’t the only ones. Tiff was devastated when, despite starting front line, she was beaten to ‘first attack of the day’. The pace was on from the gun, and it took all of our manpower to assure we were represented in every move.

The break that stuck prior to the ‘Monte Grino’ climb at 50kms was an unusual one. Most teams were represented in the group of 20 with Tiff and I making the split. Team Columbia drove the break to guarantee a 45 second advantage at the base of the 11km climb, but even that didn’t prevent me from once again finding my grupetto partners (including Rochelle Gilmore pictured above). As the main players danced over the top, Sara, Vicki and Carlee found themselves second bunch, Tiff was safely sheltered in third bunch and Nikki provided me with company for the day. The story on climb two of the day leaves much to be desired, tackling the 10km climb that finishes up the steep side of ‘Basso’. Carlee had lost contact with her bunch and attempted a catch on the technical and mossy descent, crashing and…luckily…landing on the padding from yesterday’s crash…uncanny…

Vicki and Sara, after waking with a sore throat, went on to finish in the first large bunch of riders, 13 minutes down, with Carlee regaining form to finish slightly off the pace. Somehow Tiff has managed to stay upright the entire tour and today was no exception, finding her way to the finish in a small bunch of girls, now 54th (my lucky number) on GC. In the meantime, as Nikki was putting her wind vest on for the long descent into ‘Cittiglio’, it started to piss down with rain! Losing time on grupetto didn’t seem to worry the likes of the Bates sisters, Nikki or myself, so it turned into an Aussie team time trial on the way home to re-join the bunch. We managed time cut by a mere 3 minutes, a massive 30minutes from the stage win! It was nice to return to a four star hotel…if only it had the Tour de France in English, an air conditioner that worked, and internet that wasn’t sending me broke!

Today’s stage was short, so I will keep the report short. It was an 83.8km road race starting with three laps of a town circuit measuring 8kms. Menikini had the 120 remaining girls lined out single file, and as we started a 13km rise to our climbs of the day, the bunch began to split. From here, we continued on to do 4 x 4km burgs, some with 20% sections causing girls to get off and walk. The lead 15 girls were staggered on the hilltop finish, with Luperini taking the stage and holding onto the pink jersey. The two chase bunches came together before the final ascent, which saw Sara joined by Vicki, Nikki, Carlee and Tiff. Once again I was grupetto, where there was no shortage of girls holding on to cars, motorbikes, and receiving the occasional push from men in the crowd (yes…I am guilty of the final one!). So I head to bed with one day to go, just as we watch the storm setting in from our bedroom window.

Results: Giro Donne, Stage 6, Road Race, Cardano Al Campo - Laveno Mombello, 113.4kms
Results: Giro Donne, Stage 7, Road Race, Macherio - Montevecchia, 83.8kms

Photo 2 courtesy of WomensCycling.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Just when I thought that our team would get through the tour unscathed…we go and have five crashes over two days, not the best of statistics considering two of them were in the time trial! Stage 4, day 5, and it was time to hit the hills, but before hitting the hills, Vicki and Sara were hitting the pavement in an early crash. Nicki got caught behind the pile-up, but all three regained contact soon after with only Vicki sporting scars. Everyone seemed keen to join a break before the climb, so the pace remained relatively high for the first half of the 106km race. From here, the first of two 10km climbs began and it didn’t take long for me to find my place in grupetto! Sara was positioned well and found herself just off the back of the lead group as she prepared for the descent. Vicki and Carlee joined Oenone Wood in the chase bunch, while Nicki and Tiff established position in the third group.

As I chatted away to the fellow members of grupetto, the remnants of my team were chasing hard to make up time on the leaders. The flat roads lasted a mere 10kms before an 11km hill top finish on ‘Monte Serra’. The crowds were lining the roadside today with two intentions; 1) to watch the Giro Donne grovel up the climbs 2) to watch their local hero Fabiana Luperini take the pink jersey, and after reading her name written in every possible direction and font on the asphalt, how could she not impress?! While she celebrated her win, Sara was pursuing a top 20. Carlee had spent the last 5kms towing Vicki up the climb after desperation for feed from our team car saw her taken out by another rider, resulting in patches on both knees and elbows! Nicki and Tiff rode tempo to the finish, while grupetto called ‘piano’ and rolled in 21 minutes down!

We had a four hour transfer to ‘Ispra’ after an 8-point turn to get the van to the bottom of the hill. Carlee and I, now nicknamed pink 1 and pink 2 after purchasing the Giro ‘I was here’ pink souvenir shirts, exchanged race stories to pass the time. I reflected on the first climb, when a policeman who learnt my name yesterday drove past on the motor bike shouting out ‘Peta!’… and when a team car took out half the grupetto bunch while trying to pass up the inside… or my favourite memory, of grovelling alongside two girls holding onto their team car up ‘Monte Serra’! It was a blessing to arrive at a new accomodation, that supplied us with good food, English euro sport, and a dismal 30 minutes of internet before the connection cut out. I scored a room with Nikki, finally a firm bed, and a balcony that you could land a plane on!

Today I was faced with a 9km time trial. Usually they are far from exciting, but when two of your team members crash, and another takes the win, there is plenty to talk about on the drive home, which for me was an hour after everybody else as I chose to stay and take podium shots for Vicki! It had been joked about the night before that Carlee, who was starting in front of Vicki, would be the ‘rabbit’. Carlee took this to the extreme, crashing early on due to some gravel on a roundabout and drawing blood, of which we assume Vicki smelt, and chased like an animal! But now we can’t open the cycling news homepage without seeing Carlee sprawled in the top corner as leading photo (pictured above)…way to get the sponsors name out there girl. Sara also misread a corner and came down, losing valuable seconds that would have seen her on the podium for sure!

When Vicki crossed the line, I heard the word ‘prima’ meaning first. Initially, she didn’t believe my Italian translation but as the time trial came to an end, and only the climbers were left on the course, we knew she had claimed the biggest win of her career! It was ironic that she won the stage after her minor falls the day prior, requiring her to grace the podium with patches on both knees (pictured above). After a spray of champagne it was time for testing, so while she quickly filled a cup full of urine, I was avoiding my new edition police man stalker. He had hassled me every time I had ridden past him roadside, and was then calling to me while he was leading a rider in the time trial…it’s times like these where flattery turns to nerves. Spirits are now high, aside from the thought of tomorrow’s climbs and predicted weather forecast.

Results: Giro Donne, Stage 4, Road Race, Calcinaia - Prato A Calci/Monte Serra, 106.4kms
Results: Giro Donne, Stage 5, Individual Time Trial, Novara, 9.3kms

Photo 1 & 3 courtesy of WomensCycling.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Stage 2 started at ‘Ca Tiepolo Porto Tolle’, finishing right outside our hotel after 122kms of racing. For the second day in a row, the team managed front line on the starting tape with our Teschners on show, but I didn’t spend long there before drifting to the back to discuss specifics of my end-of-season holiday with Carlee. The pace was higher, the sprint was quicker, but once again nothing much exciting happened. Sara tried to keep me up the front coming into the sprint, but we got lost in the confusion of the bunch and watched on as Ina Teutenberg took line honours for the second day in a row. I was grateful to spend two nights at our waterfront hotel in ‘Rosolina Mare’. It meant that after racing, I was able to return to my air conditioned room, watch the final 70kms of the Tour de France, and sit on the balcony and paint my toenails.

While Tiff was investing in a blow up toy and a new hairstyle…braids (pictured with Carlee and Nicki below), I was enjoying the first of six servings at dinner. This feast is divided into separate portions. First comes the bread, then salad, then pasta, then vegetables, then meat, and finally dessert. At this particular hotel, dessert was watermelon, and I was devastated on our first night when I missed out on a serving. So when the waitress bought out a platter, I was once again heartbroken when the doping controllers carried the massive serving dish to their own table! All other teams erupted in disgust as us Aussie’s watched on eagerly, so when the controllers were done taking their portions, they kindly bought the remainder our way =) I was full from dinner, and so unbelievably tired that on my way back up to my room, I didn’t even hold the door of the lift for a cripple!

Today we were faced with another 123kms of racing over flat terrain. The stage from ‘S.M. Maddalena Occhiobello’ to ‘Altedo Malalbergo’ went quicker than I expected, with short lived attacks making up the majority of the race. Being in the thick of it meant that after the live coverage of the Tour de France, I was able to get some air time on local television. It was no surprise that a late run at inside suicide had me hit the barriers with 200m to go (somehow I‘m alive), and no miracle that Ina took her third stage win for the tour. So we are closing in on the final hours of day four, and I‘m still extremely tired considering the ease of the kilometres that have come and gone. Tomorrow marks our first day in the hills, and the first real chance for the GC contenders to make their mark. I’m nervous as to how the legs will hold up and it seems that even grupetto is looking like a fair challenge at the moment!

Results: Giro Donne, Stage 2, Road Race, Ca Tiepolo Porto Tolle - Rosalina Mare, 122.7kms
Results: Giro Donne, Stage 3, Road Race, Maddalena Occhiobello - Altedo Malalbergo, 122.8kms

Photo 1 courtesy of WomensCycling.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


Welcome to the Giro! I say that on behalf of our ten member team. One director sportif; Warren McDonald. One mechanic; Wayne Nichols. Two soigneurs; Christine O’Connor And Beth Duryea. And six athletes; Carlee Taylor, Tiffany Cromwell, Sara Carrigan, Nikki Egyed, Vicki Whitelaw and myself. It was a three hour drive from the AIS base in Castronno Italy, south east to ‘Mantova’. Forty steps led us to the third floor of our building, and the passage way led us to our little heat box of a room. We had a few hours of relaxation prior to racing and it was clear that I wouldn‘t be spending this optional time in my room! Vicki and I chose the single beds by the window, meaning that Carlee (pictured below) scored the double in the centre, which is why the huge mosquito welts all over her body are such a surprise!

It was a 3 minute ride to our time trial start. We were randomly seeded yet I managed to score the first run at 8:30pm, with the last rider off at 10pm! We were decked out with time trial helmets and disk wheels for the massive 1.2kms. It was short, hard, and after doing the turn 10 times in warm up, I snail paced around it, finishing 34th. Carlee was lucky enough to hold it up on the corner after skipping her back wheel, and then spent an hour trying to find her way back to the hotel. She took a wrong turn and approached the police for help, but with only four words of Italian in her vocabulary they were forced to bring in an interpreter. Just as they were loading her into the car and announcing her name over a loud speaker, Tiff’s Dad came to the rescue and she was home just in time for gelati.

After a sleepless night (I would guesstimate a solid 4 hours due to siesta), we made the 1.5 hour trek to the start of stage 1 in ‘Asola’. It was 130kms of head wind on a pancake flat course finishing in ‘Lendinara’. The day was uneventful to say the least, and if I had to pick a highlight it would be a toss up between Nikki being called an ‘idiot’ over the loud speaker during team sign on for not knowing her race number, and when Carlee shit herself after I screamed ‘occhio!’ and slapped her thigh just for a good laugh. It was a positive thing that the temperatures were soaring, as it meant that feeding from the car was required often, and people were fighting to return to the convoy just to break the boredom. I ran over about 4 bidons, had melted nutella smeared all over my bike, and allowed Oenone Wood to convince me to stay on for a holiday at the end of the season.

The race heated up in the final 20kms for the predicted mass finish. There wasn’t a single crash among the 130 starters, and even the forgetfulness of Wazza in radioing through the left hand corner at 200m to go couldn’t bring us down! I finished in 12th, and I only mention it because it brings our team earnings to 6 euro each. Another transfer has bought us to ‘Rosolina Mare’, where I have access to a mirror and visions of my glorious arm, leg, sock, neck, helmet strap and sunnies tan lines…and even two small forehead ones from the air holes in my helmet! On a more positive note, we celebrated Tiff’s 20th birthday today! A gelati cake was organised, along with chocolates for a final dessert, of which most hadn’t survived the heat (pictured above). With Tiff sorting through presents, Nikki on the phone to her partner Tyler, and the Tour de France highlights on television, it’s a happy vibe in the room tonight.

Results: Giro Donne, Prologue, Mantova, 1.2kms
Results: Giro Donne, Stage 1, Road Race, Asola - Lendinara, 131.5kms

Friday, 4 July 2008


As some of you are back home sleeping, I’m double checking the contents of my packed bag beside me, hoping that I have everything required for the Giro D’Italia over the coming nine days. We start racing tomorrow, and I’m not nervous, scared, or restless. I think I’ll merely be relieved when it’s over. Our opening stage is a 1.2km prologue, followed by close to 800kms of racing and with some difficult terrain I wouldn’t mind being a climber right about now! The remaining members of our team arrived in Castronno this week in Carlee Taylor, Sarah Carrigan and Nikki Egyed. Carlee has been here since Monday, which has given her and I plenty of time to reacquaint and be our normal selves again (pictured below), while Sarah and Nikki arrived late Thursday. Hopefully the Giro is first-class, and instead of shared bathroom facilities, hand washing and no supplied bedding, maybe we can be pampered elite athletes instead =)

My week on the bike has simply been recovery from testing at the Mapei - human performance lab. My first experience at the centre saw me learn how to count in Italian, another approach for flooding the stationary bike in sweat, and a new pain tolerance for lactate ear pricking! Skinfolds and haematocrit levels are easily tested and are almost painless, our submax test on the other hand is designed to hurt a little. It’s a step test performed on a stationary bike that measures your heart rate and power output. Starting at 100 watts, the power is increased by 25 watts every 3 minutes as a lactate sample is taken from the ear. This continues until your lactate reaches 6m/mol. Unfortunately, reading 5.9m/mol, as I did, means you must complete another level…which had me up at 12m/mol! Unlucky or karma? Today was void of sweat, with the team able to laze around in Varese centre after photos with the mayor (pictured below).

The U19 Junior World boys (pictured below: Me, Michael Matthews, Alastair Loutit, Michael Hepburn, Leigh, Michael Freiberg, Tiff) provided us with a short spout of entertainment this week. On Tuesday, Hepburn, Freiburg and I headed down to the garage in search of a long lost rainbow inflatable swimming pool, measuring 2 metres in diameter. After a bit of a rinse, a degrease, a scrub, and three more rinses it was time to blow it up. ‘Blowing’ up the pool soon turned into ‘pumping’ up the pool, which turned into ‘taping’ up the pool with a whole roll of masking tape. Half filling the pool took a solid half hour, before bathing in the pool was able to take place. In the end, the pool wasn’t even that great! But it was the feeling of success that mattered in the end. Unfortunately, today I had to empty it, which took almost as long as it’s assembly, and resulted in an extra hole that I will now have to tape up on return!

There have been other nightly approaches to the increasing temperatures. Vicki initially started out sleeping with the fan on, then realized the breeze that develops overnight from the cool air outside is much nicer. So a mosquito net was sent from home in Australia so that she wouldn’t get eaten alive with the window open. When we have to close the window during overnight storms, I find Vicki scattered across the cold tiles in the lounge! For the U19 boys upstairs the heat is worse, but now that they have departed for a tour across Italy, we no longer have to pity them. After taking out the first stage and holding onto the yellow jersey, confidence levels will be high for the coming World Championships in South Africa for them. Well I hope you all enjoy watching the Tour de France while we girls suffer in our own miniscule version of the Pyrenees, and I trust that you all have your fingers crossed for us!