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