Sunday, 31 August 2008


Once again, it was a day I had looked forward to as it signalled the end of the tour. But a day that I was dredding, because it would be our final race as a team. From here, Leonie and Rochelle head to the Holland Ladies Tour, with Rochelle making a final visit to Varese to say her goodbyes before I fly home. It also marked John's last day in Europe, with his departure scheduled for late afternoon. There was much laughter on day five of Trophee D’Or…at Carlee…and the fact that she had only just realised that the Irish speak English, and that she CAN in fact check her Optus email address while in Europe?! This closely compares to the time she went to wash her hands in the mens urinal, and believed the capital of Japan to be Bangkok! Luckily her profession is in bikes!

The race went quickly, with a few moments of aggression on the road passing, before MANY moments of aggression faced us on the 5x5km finishing circuits. The attacks came thick and fast with stage victory up for grabs, and we covered what we could, which didn’t include Eneritz Echevarria’s (Safi) solo attack in the final kilometers. It seems that bike racing is a numbers game that we just couldn't win!..with Rochelle running third on the stage for yet another podium. So the tour saw us with four podiums, Rochelle second in the point’s classification, Carlee (pictured below) as the third young rider, Vicki our highest placed on GC and Tiff, Leonie and I well...we played our part! :P It was a good note to finish my season on, and once again more memories to add to the blog.

It's now 1am here in Castronno and we have just endured an 8 hour drive from France; an entertaining one at that. Nitis drove with the windscreen wipers on for 6 hours, Beth, Carlee and I found ourselves singing Madonna's 'holiday', and we had a car full of slightly older men writing their names and numbers on cardboard pieces held to their window! We woke Bridie O’Donnell on our return to the house, and she informs me that the weather in Melbourne is starting to fine up, initiating my countdown to Australia…12 days now! I have a one day race in Switzerland this weekend, and then five days to reminisce on my overseas racing experience. No doubt I'll miss everybody here at the house, but I can't wait to get home to my family. So my friends, if you don't hear from me before September 12th, it’s because I'm on a flight back down under! YAY!

Results: Unofficial Blog Page: Trophee D'Or, Stage 6, Saint-Germain-du-Puy – Saint-Amand-Montrond, 100.8kms

Friday, 29 August 2008


Today was a pretty standard race day. Wake up; on top bunk. Take off compression tights; ‘2XU’. Shower; in push button 30sec showers. Eat breakfast; in a large, loud dining hall. Pack for race; remembering socks (pictured: as Leonie didn’t, having to borrow John’s ACTAS). Team meeting; to plan race tactics. Pre-race meal; generally pasta. Car transfer to stage start; 150kms away. Get lost; despite having the ‘tom-tom’ in the race car. Arrive; park in shady area and find signage to festy squatter toilet. Kit up; by means of a towel. Warm up; the five minute ride to sign-on and then the start line. Radio check; test radios and discover who got dodgy number 4. Neutral zone; where we loop around town and arrive in the same place we had been previously. Race; very very hard.

I knew we had driven 1.5 hours for more than just the sake of it. We had driven this far because we had gone to find the hills! It was to be, and was conclusively, the deciding stage of the tour for general classification purposes. Rochelle was second when the day began, and we still had three in contention for the young rider jersey. It was 10 minutes prior to start when an old man came up to us asking (in French) what our smallest gear was. After he informed me that there would be 2km climbs at 20%, I quickly convinced Leonie to hand over her 27, and Carlee asked Nitis to change over from her 23! When we hit the first hill, Rochelle went into recovery mode, and Leonie was secretly swearing at me as she grinded her way up the climb beside Rochelle.

I drifted off the back, later regaining contact to discover that the hardest and steepest three climbs were to be run in succession over 20kms! We had missed a break of four, but their 1 minute advantage had dwindled to nothing by the time we started climbing again. After the first climb, as a girl rode beside me crying, I was past hurting, losing 4 minutes prior to finishing. After the second climb, the pace increased and Tiff lost contact. And after the third, only Vicki and Carlee remained in a group of 10, chasing back what would be the winning break of 5 (originally containing Bronzini who unfortunately punctured). Emma Johansson (AA Drink) took the victory, with Vicki finishing 8th. Only one day remains, and hopefully it‘s Rochelle’s turn to be the bride!

Results: Unofficial Blog Page: Trophee D'Or, Stage 5, Cosne-sur-Loire – Cosne-sur-Loire, 92.2kms

Thursday, 28 August 2008


A double stage means an early start for Vicki, Carlee and I to venture the 1km to the breakfast room, while the others sleep in and opt for a bowl of cereal in bed. It’s now day three, with stage 3 presenting improved presents on the sign-on podium. My tin full of shortbread biscuits was donated to the race car today, but seeing as Vicki is wheat intolerant, and I am her only room-mate, I know where her biscuits will end up when we return to the AIS base in Italy! It was a short hard stage this morning, with a GPM in the first 10kms seeing Vicki run second. Despite her tally of points we decided to give up the chase for the climber’s jersey and focus on stage victory. The final 20kms would see us complete a 5km circuit, four times, that comprised a 1km climb. (Pictured below: Nitis our mechanic)

It was the third lap that saw a decent bunch of 20 lose contact, and as Leonie relented to save herself for the days to come, Vicki found herself up the road. Tiff was covering EVERY move, I was keeping a close eye on Rochelle, and Carlee was positioning herself in preparation for attacks on the climb. Then the coin flipped when Vicki’s break was termed unsuccessful, and the pressure was back on Rochelle to pull off a stage victory. I suffered over the last climb, saw Vicki perform lead-out duties, and watched on as Bronzini took yet another stage win… Rochelle finishing as brides maid for the third time! It would take a half hour kip, some ‘Powerbar’ protein, and a visit to some awful smelling public squatters to prepare me for the afternoon’s stage.

Rochelle would be starting stage 4 in the green points jersey, and was disappointed as it would be covering the ‘Teschner’ on her jersey! Team sign-on was similar to days gone by, but this time, after receiving an umbrella each, a single ‘team’ rose was given out. Carlee thinks she was given the privilege because she is the youngest, but I stick by the pity vote, as she was still struggling to open her umbrella when team photos were being taken! We made small talk prior to the start, contemplating as to whether we should call ourselves by our middle names to disguise talk on the radio, or by code name, but figured it would confuse us just as much as it would opposing teams! (Pictured below: Beth our soigneur)

We completed four laps of a circuit that was in desperate need of some road re-surfacing, and after 83 continuous days in the saddle, it’s double stages like this that your ‘behind’ prays for a break! Despite team Bigla’s relentless attacks, we approached the day’s end all together. With a climb 4kms from the finish the race would be hard for us to control. It was here that three girls rode clear (including stage favourite Bronzini), leaving us with a decent amount of chasing to do. Vicki dragged Rochelle over the climb and I bought back the break…it was now 1km to go. With a lack of team mates in the finishing straight, Rochelle was left to fight the wind, rolling in for seventh. But…not every stage turns out how you had planned.

Results: Trophee D'Or, Stage 3, Orval – Saint-Amand-Montrond, 56.4kms

Results: Trophee D'Or, Stage 4, Sancoins – Orval, 73.6kms

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


It was a flat day, with two laps of a 56km circuit. There were two climbs categorised the first time around, and then uncategorized the second time…go figure! Despite Carlee’s lead-out efforts, Vicki was out of the points on both occasions, and we have now given up on the climber’s jersey for the remainder of the tour. It was time for more presents atop the podium; a rose, a silver pen and a card holder case, the latter of which I have become quite the fan of. I rode forward all day, accidentally stole GPM points from Vicki, and enjoyed the many money primes occurring ever 5kms! After a time bonus prime at half way, Rochelle decided she wasn’t feeling that great, and John made the call with 20kms to go that we counter until we can counter no more!

Leonie found herself in the most promising break with 10kms remaining, until I bridged in a small group and it neutralised. Tiff was then solo at 3kms, and Leonie lining it out to the finish. Rochelle had changed her mind on how her legs felt as soon as the adrenaline kicked in, so it was just our luck that Vicki and I had counted on her coming good, saving ourselves for the required lead-out. Another awesome sprint rewarded us with another podium…second…giving us second on GC. From the race, I headed straight back to school to do my hand washing, receive my massage and analyse my SRM data to see if I had won the competition for lowest watts on the day. Score is Peta 1, Rochelle 1. But of course, Rochelle is ruthlessly lean, so I’ll always win the power:weight!

Results: Trophee D'Or, Stage 2, Avord – Avord, 112kms

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


So we have arrived in St Amand-Montrond at our school based accommodation (pictured with Tiff and Rochelle). Just as I suspected, we are on the top floor and as far toward the end of the corridor as humanly possible (pictured Leonie and Tiff struggling up the stairs). With two bunk beds, I opted to sleep up top, taking one for the team as I had spent the night in the double in Plouay…and a lot of good that did me results wise! Carlee thought it funny as I climbed the stairs, not as funny as it was when I jumped on her at 2am to go to the toilet though! Our meals are served cafeteria style, with salad, carbs, meat, random looking sauces, yoghurt and dessert for choice. Unfortunately, they’re at ANOTHER school, about 1km away…which is termed driving distance while on tour :)

The first stage has been run and won, but sadly not by us. With a 4:30pm start, it was difficult to stay awake, lettle own motivated. At sign-on we were given a rose each (of which Nitis pawned off to good looking woman) and a tour t-shirt (sized from L-XL). Our 76.9km journey from our homely town through to Mehun-sur-Yevre faced us with flat terrain, two GPM’s, and after a combination of lead-out duties from Tiff, Rochelle and I, we had Vicki on equal points for the spotted jersey. The afternoon would have been a nice time to nap in the follow car, until we hit the 3.8km finishing circuit of which we were to complete four times. It was a matter of positioning in the closing stages, which caught Carlee and Leonie off guard, leaving a heavy workload for those of us at the front.

Despite numerous attacks, the race didn’t take shape until bell lap. Noemi Cantele (Bigla), Diana Zilute (Safi) and Tiff forced a break with 4kms to go but all three were riding solo. After chasing down the back straight, the top straight, and again on the home straight, my legs couldn’t take Rochelle any further than 300m to go. An uphill sprint over cobbles had her run second to Gioriga Bronzini (Safi), but elated with the result…Bronzini is a beast of a sprinter! I lost 11 seconds in 300m, which you don’t believe is possible until you’ve actually done it, with Carlee trying not to pass me at the end because she felt guilty that she hadn’t contributed! I should be able to grovel over the rolling hills for the majority of the week, discounting Friday maybe?

Results: Trophee D'Or, Stage 1, St Amand-Montrond – Mehun-sur-Yevre, France, 76.9kms

Sunday, 24 August 2008


Road tripping ‘used’ to be a hobby of mine. When I was young, my family of seven would load into our Tarago van every weekend, with picnic basket and sandwiches in tow, to a getaway destination out bush. But, after another 15 hour drive on the way to France, I decided that I’m changing my hobby when I get home…to something called flying! It’s up to the staff to do the driving, and it wouldn’t be an AIS excursion without another change in organization. Our team was joined again by Beth Duryea, a new mechanic in James Nitis, and for the last time this year, John Forrest as DS. Our accommodation was cute, satisfactory, and busy with cyclists as ‘Milram’ and ‘Euskaltel’ were sharing with us, preparing for their race on Monday.

In the week gone by there have been some nerves around the house about the World Cup. People have passed up gelati and done extras in training in an attempt to improve their chances of success. I tried to remind Carlee that the race wasn’t the be all and end all, and that a little bit of fun never hurt anybody (having ‘fun’ pictured below). So when the morning of the race so often talked about dawned, I was surprised I wasn’t nervous. In retrospect, the course was too difficult for my current climbing form and the field boasted many champions. I was HOPING to finish the race, maybe in something like second or third bunch, but EXPECTED to be arsed as soon as the crunch came. And there’s nothing like living up to expectations!

On August 24th at 2:28pm (26 degrees)…89 girls were eagerly awaiting the start of the Plouay World Cup. It seems that 52 of these girls were also eagerly awaiting the finish! was to be a popular day for DNF’s. The first of six 19.2km circuits were sedated, the second saw Columbia initiate an aggressive race, and on the third, a break of 8 went clear, from which Fabiana Luperini (Menikini) and Luise Keller (Columbia) stayed away to take stage victory. It was the third lap that saw a large group of girls lose contact, including Tiff, Leonie, Rochelle and I. As soon as the elastic broke, I looked ahead to our 5-day tour in Trophee D’Or, starting in two days time…nice excuse hey :)

Tiff rode on solo for 55kms to finish outside of time cut, while the rest of us enjoyed two laps of conversation before watching the race finish on the big screen. Vicki and Carlee had made the lead bunch of 30, and after watching Vicki (pictured) suffer through the early stages of the race, I was amazed to see her push through to finish 15th! Carlee held on until the final climb, finishing 1 minute in arrears. It was a nice thought at dinner tonight that we move ahead to a flat tour in central France. We are told that our accommodation is school based, in bunk beds, with 30 second shower buttons, and cafeteria style meals. But prior to this, we have another 6 hour drive ahead. This is like driving from Traralgon to Canberra, and the scary thing is that it feels short!

Results: GP de Plouay World Cup, France, 114.6kms

Monday, 18 August 2008


It is now one week after Holland Hills, and one week before the Plouay World Cup, which means that the majority of my training block has passed, and the tapering is about to begin for my final road trip with the AIS this year. My training has been somewhat skewed by the track cycling at the Olympics however, and I find myself doing a few hours on the road in the morning, before completing efforts on the rollers in front of a miniature laptop screen. There was one case where I started training at 8am and didn’t finish until 4pm, because I had to have all of my energy focused on Cammy Meyer for his points score debut at the Olympics! Not only was it an awesome race, but he ran 4th. Despite our results, the Games make me that little bit more patriotic…and proud as punch to be an Aussie =)

After breakfast and lunch had revolved around the laptop screen for a solid week, we decided that dinner was an occasion for eating out. We joined the boys for dinner at Pietro’s (an Italian friend of the AIS) one night, and then claimed an all girls dinner in Varese to bid farewell to Josie (pictured above), who departed for home in Perth today in early preparation for the 2009 track season. We miss her already…although my gelati consumption will no doubt decrease from here on in. This coming weekend, Vicki, Tiff, Carlee, Leonie Burford and I will join forces with Rochelle Gilmore to tackle the French World Cup. Not only is it considered difficult terrain with 18 decent climbs over 120kms, but our competition couldn’t have better form post Olympic Games and pre-World Championships in September. Cross your fingers, legs and ears that I survive it!

Monday, 11 August 2008


Despite the positive vibes in the house due to the Olympics, I wasn’t all that excited on Saturday morning about an 18-hour return trip to racing in Holland. Another 5am departure meant that we would miss the viewing of the Men’s Olympic Road Race and would have to survive on ‘live’ updates from Josie via text message, who had already arrived at race accommodation after 5 days in Spain. That was until the prospect of a podium saw us stop off at the next possible servo. After running inside in the hope of finding a TV, to then discover there was only 3kms to race, I ran back out to get the crew, bowling over a 2-year old on my way. Turns out those 7 extra Aussie viewers didn’t help Mick Rogers on his way to a medal, but sixth in the world is still impressive!

I was rooming with Carlee, and once again, throat infected Josie. The accommodation exceeded expectation, with breakfast a buffet that I could have spent hours discovering, and a large television with four Olympic channels hard to pull away from. So when we woke to rain on Sunday morning, breakfast in bed in front of the big screen, cheering on the Aussie girls during the Olympic Road Race, started to sound like a pleasant option. Instead, upon Olympic race finish, we departed for our own race start. After some problems with the GPS, and a few thoughts that we were overdue for a shopping spree this year, Josie, Rochelle and I lined up on a narrow street, behind 150 motivated girls… and let’s just say it was a VERY long way to the front!

Aside from a neutral section before kilometer zero, the race was fast. Positioning was paramount through muddy single track laneways, which led me to believe that I had chosen a bad day for a serious case of CBF! It was lined out over the first of 14 steep, sharp, climbs, and it wasn’t long before Tiff was up the road in an early break of six. As the terrain got tougher, two girls succumbed, and she managed to finish a credible fourth. Rochelle and Josie abandoned, and after chasing 11 times, I certainly thought about it! The bunch remained together until the final 20kms, where it then split into 3 groups, which split again on the hill top finish. I was in the third bunch and for the record…extremely proud of my effort! So as Josie, Tiff and I (pictured top prior to race start) were passing by the chocolate machine, I didn’t feel guilty in buying a Kit Kat and shaking the machine to score extra free chocolates! =)

Results: Holland Hills Classic, Valkenburg, Netherlands, 100kms

Saturday, 9 August 2008


On Monday, at 1am, we arrived home from Germany and Carlee couldn’t unlock her door. She went to turn on the hallway light and accidentally rang the doorbell, waking Olympic mountain biker Dallas Star! So Carlee decided to sleep over in my room…and from then on we have been inseparable, she has become the little voice in my head. We eat every meal together, synchronising our cooking so as to dine at the same time. We train together everyday, sometimes with the bunch, and other times just the two of us side-by-side, for up to 5 hours, in which time we become quite eccentric. We sit and wait out siesta (when all shops are closed) from 1-3pm, and then venture out on our 20kg townies to the shops. With 10psi in both tyres and poor seat height (pictured), we collect our weekly groceries in the front baskets!

We sit at our laptops, viewing our houses from the new ‘google streets’ so as we don’t forget what home looks like, then we sun bake, ice-bath and sun bake again, discussing our adventures we have planned on our return to Australia =) When I’m not daydreaming, I’m thinking about the pain in my knee from my crash in Germany. I took two days off this week in an attempt to speed up the healing process, and so far so good. When the weather is cool, my knee is no problem, so only the patches are depressing me. Showering is difficult, and in the heat of the day I have a serious need to itch it! But as of tomorrow, when we depart for Holland, I will start on the dry healing process and hope that the heat rash that has developed under these patches will fade…ewww…

Monday, 4 August 2008


I know I’m in Germany when every second town ends in ‘..farht’ and the only word I recognise is ‘Danke sehr’ (thank you). Surprisingly, it was the only word of German required as the staff in our relatively fancy hotel all spoke quite fluent English. This time around, a 10 hour drive took us through to Bochum in Germany, where we endured a Saturday night criterium, a Sunday morning road race, and another 10 hour drive home on Sunday afternoon! The team consisted of 8, with Vicki, Tiff, Carlee, Josie Tomic and I travelling together; to be joined on arrival by additional members Leonie Burford, Emma Rickards and Rochelle Gilmore. We came across more Aussie’s at dinner that night, catching up with the Men’s Drapac Porsche Team who were in town for the men’s equivalent of racing.

Our first stroke of bad luck in regards to the race came before we even departed for Germany. Josie was diagnosed with a throat infection and was still contemplating whether or not she would be able to front on the start line. Her infection was directly proportional to her asthma, and on top of this, she was suffering a head cold! It was a combination of confidence in my immune system, and the fact that I had been sleeping in her room in Italy, that led to us being room-mates in Bochum. I kept her awake with my sleep talking while she kept me awake with her snoring (due to blocked sinuses), but I think she contributed equally to waking herself as often as waking me! Coincidentally, it was Carlee and Vicki, sleeping up the hall, who felt a little nasal as the weekend progressed.

Our second stroke of bad luck came in the form of my first European crash! When riding behind 8 people, who would expect a 30x5cm metal plank to go unnoticed? (Pictured with Mark O'Brien) But after it weaved it’s way through a Drapac rider’s wheel I hit the tarmac, developing some dirty road rash on my right calf, nasty bruising to my right knee (pictured top), and a few scratches on my Teschner! What was more disheartening than the pain in my knee, and the blow to my pride, was racing with my leg all patched up looking like a cripple :( I skipped on the bandaging for the criterium on Saturday, and was regretting even starting when 10 minutes in, my knee started to heat and swell. We were easily the most dominant team, represented two fold in every break with the ability to control the race for a resultant bunch sprint.

This time, in contrast to our experiences in Cento, we were quickly running out of girls in our lead-out after having used up Carlee and Josie in the final laps. It was Vicki's job to set the pace up to 2km to go, and in succession Ruth and Emma took the front, before it was my time in the wind at 600m. I led into the final tight right hander at 200m, died on my arse, and saw Rochelle kick off my wheel and cruise to an easy victory! (pictured) I managed 5th. The celebrations couldn't last long as we had an early start the following morning. Sunday's Road Race looped six times around a 13km circuit to total a short 87kms. Josie was feeding road side after her sickness had overcome her, and was shortly joined by Leonie after a small crash put her out of the race on lap two. Unfortunately, after practicing her feeding skills all morning, Josie didn’t get the chance to hand out a bidon!

I suffered early, contemplating withdrawal on numerous occasions due to the pain and throbbing in my knee! The two categorized climbs were played out into a strong head wind, which made it difficult to break up the field. Small groups made little lead-way off the front, which meant a bunch kick would prevail, and all the leading teams seemed content with this. The final few kilometers saw one crash, a lot of bodily contact, and a few nerves that I wouldn’t make it through the mess. But like deja vu, I was on the front at 600m with Rochelle following closely. This time, after leading into the final corner, it was Suzanne de Goede (Nurnberger) who led up the home straight, proving too powerful for Rochelle (pictured after podium) who rode through to second, and I to 7th. Two podiums, two days, two crash casualties and three sick girls…time to recover back in Italy!

Results: Sparkassen Giro, Bochum, Germany, 78kms