Monday, 2 December 2013


We were on such a high from yesterday’s race that when we sat down for our team meeting, the first port of call was to remind ourselves that the job is not done yet. Although we clean swept the podium, we certainly didn’t do it easily and it took full commitment and selflessness from the team to pull a performance like that together. Rule #12 – never be cocky! (I’m sure there are 11 more important rules and day I will make them up).

The Wigglettes warming up
Photo courtesy Kirsty Baxter

The Wollongong criterium is a short one; just 660metres in length. The circuit takes off and turns a sharp left to start the climb to the opposite end of the track. As the climb goes on it flattens out, but a tailwind along this straight meant that the most opportune place to attack was slightly nullified. We then take a sweeping left all the way to the finish on a downhill run, that was somewhat sheltered from the wind as you ‘S’ through the final widened barricades to the line.

So with the conditions the way they were, the course was very fast and very easy. Usually this would mean that a bunch sprint was looming, but Wiggle Honda had other plans. Our team of riders are aggressive in nature and we were out to have some fun today in the hope for another break that we could be well represented in. This meant that the pace could never ease, and that we would have to counter each other until we could counter no more, or the peloton gave up.

Rocking my new Wiggle Honda dhb skinny!
Photo courtesy og Kirsty Baxter

After a top 10 call up to the line and a few interviews with Channel 9, the race was underway…36 laps to go! After two nervous laps the first bit of action went down, a crash through the finish line that took out Tralaggan, Becker and Rowney. To continue the action I got on the front and drove the pace to hurt some legs, until the only legs I was hurting were my own and the girls had all rejoined the peloton. Rowney seemed fine, Becker had hit her head hard and was a little scattered, and Tralaggan was forced to withdraw a few laps later with cracked forks.

Now with one ‘Wigglette’ less we needed to race even smarter. Collins was the first to re-iniate the attacks and from there they just kept coming. Different combinations continued to launch off the front and come back with the main suspects Hosking, Roy, Rowney, Cromwell, Williamson, Collins, Kitchen and myself taking turns. Plus a few new faces in Viotto, Finegan, Lindores, Martin and Ricardo putting themselves in the mix.

The 6-woman break on our way to lapping the field...
Photo courtesy Kirsty Baxter

On lap 11 it was Collins, Viotto, Martin, Rowney and Williamson on the attack, then lap 12 was Kitchen, Rowney and Hosking before lucky #13 rolled around and I countered an already strung out peloton over the climb with Roy, Viotto and Finegan in tow. Williamson jumped across while Collins nullified the peloton, and Gilmore signaled to Becker to come and join the fun. It was a perfect combination for us so in the first few laps I drove the pace and let my nerves get the better of me before wise ol’ Becker came and said ‘let them think we don’t need this-make them work’.

And she was right, we didn’t need this, because if it didn’t succeed we had three more girls waiting in the peloton to do it all again. So I calmed down and followed her lead. The break co-operated and we continued to extend the gap over a negative peloton and after 24 laps abroad when they were in sight, Becker launched across. Williamson followed not long after, and a mighty chase from Roy with the rest in tow saw all six of us now lap the peloton.

Collins & Kitchen prepare for the sprint for 7th
Photo courtesy Kirsty Baxter

My nerves started to play with me again and saw me go straight around the bunch and attack. My bid for glory didn’t last long and I decided that I needed to calm down and save myself for the finish. The dynamics of the race had now changed and all the early damage had been undone. I needed to rest while my breakaway companions did, and let Collins and Kitchen control the peloton. With 4 laps to go the bunch were given their bell and left to sprint for 7th place. After Hosking was relegated for deviating her line, Kitchen was given seventh and Rowney eighth.

With three laps to go our once group of six was now eight, with two girls not realizing that their race had finished, but it was quickly sorted by the commissaries and the cat and mouse game began. Becker came to me and said ‘so I will attack, and you will sprint’ – I wanted to say no, but we had discussed this exact scenario in our meeting (minus the whole lapping the field thing) and it was decided that I would be the sprinter in this situation. Oh no…

Wiseol' Becker aka Lotte - my secret weapon :)
Photo courtesy Kirsty Baxter

For me, this was hard. I was a domestique, I was never the ‘pea’, and I never put my hand up for it because the pressure is beyond me. So with my heart in my stomach I rolled the last three laps on the wheel of Roy. For some reason the voice in my head piped up asking stupid questions, have I done too much this week? Have I done too much this race? What if I go too early? Or too late? Knowing the sprint ability of all the girls in the group didn’t help because they are ALL good! But I told myself not to worry because I had a secret weapon…I had Becker.

I waited for her final lap attack. I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone, but still it was a struggle to hold the wheel of Roy as she chased Becker back. I never looked behind to see where the other girls were, and instead watched as Becker teased Roy onto her hip down the sweeping descent, and then accelerated to hold her there like the professional she is. Then when I finally had the guts, I stepped off the wheel and sprinted to the line. I didn’t salute until my whole bike had crossed, just to be sure. Then I screamed and threw my hands to salute. I had won. Becker had finished second. And thanks to Lauren’s win yesterday we had clean swept the series! Watch the replay here.

L-R: Viotto (6th), Becker (2nd), Finegan (5th), Me (1st), Williamson (3rd)
Photo courtesy Andy Zakeli - Illawarra Mercury

It was so special to me that someone like Becker, who was strong enough to win on her own had faith in me to get the job done, and I wondered if people had thought this much of me when I had helped them in the past. I know that Gilmore always did, because she was repaying me this year with an opportunity of a lifetime, to ride with Wiggle Honda and chase my MTB ambitions. We sat down for a quick debrief before we all went our separate ways. 

Gilmore said her congratulation speech and how proud she was of us, and we talked about how once again we had ridden a near perfect race as a team. I spoke about how I was feeling, words from the heart about the enjoyment of being in a team and sharing this with them and my eyes started to well up. So here we were, sitting in deck chairs on the top of the hill at the north end of Wollongong beach, huddled in a bonded circle sharing tears and laughs… What a team :)

The 'A Team' - L-R: Tralaggan, Collins, Kitchen, Me, Becker, Gilmore
Photo courtesy Kirsty Baxter

Day 2 – Wollongong Results
1st    Peta Mullens (Wiggle Honda)
2nd  Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda)
3rd   Sophie Williamson (Wakatipu)
4th   Sarah Roy (Roxsolt Sydney Uni)
5th   Kate Finegan (Specialized-Securitor)
6th   Em Viotto (Suzuki-Bontrager)
7th   Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda)
8th   Loren Rowney (Specialized-Securitor)

Overall Results Points Classification
1st    Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda)           36pt
2nd   Peta Mullens (Wiggle Honda)                 34pt
3rd    Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda)            32pt
4th    Sophie Williamson (Wakatipu)               29pt
5th    Sarah Roy (Roxsolt Sydney Uni)           27pt
6th    Loren Rowney (Specialized-Securitor)   26pt
7th    Emily Collins (Wiggle Honda)               26pt
8th    Kate Finegan (Specialized-Securitor)      24pt
9th    Em Viotto (Suzuki-Bontrager)                23pt
10th  Tiffany Cromwell (Orica Green-Edge)   21pt

First thanks go to the generous guys at Wiggle for allowing us to race here in Australia, and of course the Wiggle Honda team. Thanks to dhb clothing for spec’ing me out in a cool long-sleeve skinny, and to high 5 for the double-gel kick I get off the start line. Phil Bates and his entire team for putting together another well-run highly paid televised International Gran Prix series, and to Channel 9 for showing the country that we do it just as well as the men do. Of course to our staff who worked tirelessly across the weekend and I know I’ll miss some names here; Jai, Dan, Jon, Glen, Michelle, Alex, Dell and the entire Gilmore family-children included. Not only do you make my job easy, but you are all great company to hold. Can’t wait to do it all again next year..

Sunday, 1 December 2013


After a week of rain and mud in Tasmania, and reduced racing due to the flood-like conditions, I had a big week ahead of me on the bike. With my 2014 professional year approaching I'm trying to teach my body what it's like to just 'be' on the bike for 3-4hrs a day, and with the UK-based Rapha Condor boys in town-now is my opportunity. So a solid 500k plus a MTB race was a nice way for me to head into the NSW Gran Prix this weekend.

Why am I the only one who couldn't put my food down for the photo...

The team all arrived on Friday; Emily Collins from NZL, Lauren Kitchen from Port Macquarie and myself from Bendigo. Jo Tralaggan made the drive to Rochelle Gilmore's apartment in Cronulla, where German teamie Charlotte Becker has been soaking up summer rays. For the six-rider line-up we have three staff on-board. Jai Redmond as Director, Dan Brickell as Mechanic and Jon McEniry back from our 2012 roster as Physio and Swanny. After a sneaky photo shoot (we never get away without a few happy snaps) we headed to dinner followed by our team ritual (Cold Rock) and hit the hay in preparation for a mecca weekend of cycling.

'Giggle Honda' pre-race..
Photo courtesy of Kirsty Baxter

Course re-con and team meetings are always interesting when you have a strong team with a lot of cards to play. As a fly on the wall you would hear us talk more about our own form, what 'style' of race we each want, how we want to execute that, a lead-out order if it were to come down to a sprint and of course the main threats in the race. For us, we decided to make a call on the lead-out order on the road, which is quite uncommon, depending on who had done what in the aggressive style race we were striving for. And after the late withdrawal of Dunn and Wells due to illness, the obvious main threats were the other five professionals in the field - Hosking, Rowney, Cromwell, Williamson and Roy.

It was a stressed out area in our tent before the start. We had come second at Noosa and really wanted to win this one to show our appreciation to Wiggle for supporting the Australian Domestic season. Many family, friends and cheer-squads lined the barricades for the live streamed event on Channel 9, so it's safe to say that Australia really was watching us! Just to force the mood, I had to undergo a last minute frame change due to a flat battery. The Campagnolo Super Record EPS battery is internally cabled into the frame, and with no way to charge it on site, we did a quick wheel and seat-post change onto one of three spare bikes, and all was fine and dandy! Until Rochelle broke a pedal, of which the spare bikes had none, and Jai had to charge back to her apartment (around the corner) to get a spare set!

Dan the Man 'Cool as a cucumber' for a last minute bike change

Finally we were racing... 15 laps of a 1.3k circuit. The course begins with a 180deg turn, then a long tailwind straight up to a sweeping descent, that leads into a short headwind climb, and a downhill run to the finish. The 20k of action went something like this:
Lap 1 - Wiggle Honda controlling the peloton
Lap 2 - Lindores (Roxsolt) launches first attack covered by Cromwell (Orica Green-Edge), Tralaggan and Viotto (Suzuki Bontrager), bought back before end of lap
Lap 3 - Martin (Roxsolt) attacks but it's quickly nullified over the climb
Lap 4 - Nervous energy in the bunch as we wait for the next attack
Lap 5 - Gilmore punctures-I attack up the climb but am covered by Hosking (Roxsolt) with Rowney (Specialized) Kitchen and Becker in tow. This was to become the winning move.

The winning break with Rowney, me, Hosking, Williamson and Becker
Photo courtesy of Michael Chapman

Lap 6 - Gilmore and Tralaggan control the peloton, while Becker attacks our break of five through the finish
Lap 7 - This gives me a chance to counter the move and go solo...
Lap 8 - Rowney, Hosking and Williamson share the workload and bring me back after two laps
Lap 9 - Kitchen now goes solo, meanwhile a trio of Cromwell, Roy (Roxsolt) and Collins have escaped from the bunch
Lap 10 - Kitchen still solo, Rowney chasing while Hosking waits for team-mate Roy. Williamson attacks over the hill but it covered by Becker
Lap 11 - Hosking begins to chase as the trio of Cromwell, Roy and Collins make contact
Lap 12 - Hosking still driving in pursuit of Kitchen who is now in sight. I attack over the top of the climb with Williamson in chase and we bridge to Kitchen at the end of the lap

Not a Time Trial fan...
Photo courtesy of Kirsty Baxter

Lap 13 - Hosking is left to chase again before Rowney and Collins bridge to the front making the lead five strong-Kitchen, Williamson, Rowney, Collins and I- being chased by Cromwell, Roy and Becker. Hosking loses contact and returns to the peloton controlled by Tralaggan and Gilmore.
Lap 14 - I attack up the climb again but Rowney gives chase, and as we crest Kitchen counters and goes solo
Lap 15 - Kitchen leads by 5 seconds over the climb while Becker regains contact and launches past the chase group. Kitchen wins, Becker second and Collins wins the sprint for third.

Kitchen bombing solo to victory for Wiggle Honda!
Photo courtesy of Michael Chapman

Day 1 Results - Cronulla
1st     Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda)
2nd   Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda)
3rd    Emily Collins (Wiggle Honda)
4th    Loren Rowney (Specialized-Securitor)
5th    Peta Mullens (Wiggle Honda)
6th    Sophie Williamson (Wakatipu)
7th    Sarah Roy (Roxsolt Sydney Uni)
8th    Tiffany Cromwell (Orica Green-Edge)

Your women's podium L-R: Collins 3rd, Kitchen 1st, Becker 2nd

So we are a very happy team, in fact as we celebrated at dinner sometimes we forgot which one of us had actually won the bike race! Our post-race debrief was short because, as I said in our meeting 'we rode pretty damn awesome' now holding 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th on the points classification going into todays second and final criterium in Wollongong. Once again we will be chasing one more stage win for Wiggle and line up against another strong field so it will by no means come easy with some tired legs in the bunch. So don't miss the action-make sure to watch the 'Wigglettes' on Channel 9 at 12.30 for live coverage!

The team with Jon (physic), Myffy (PR) and Dan (DS/photographer!)