After a short meet and greet with the Wigglettes, staff and the 'dhb dream team' I was feeling settled with our massive gathering of 16 people! As the only Australian I will introduce you to these International superstars that I will share the tarmac with this week, every single one of them having earned National and/or World stripes in their lustrious careers (named in order of picture):
|The classic Wiggle Honda team shot!|
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen
Linda Villumsen - New Zealand National Time Trial Champion
Emila Fahlin - Swedish National Road Race Champion
Me - Australian National XC MTB Champion
Charlotte Becker - Germany - World Teams Time Trial Champion
Giorgia Bronzini - Italy - Dual World Road Champion and Track Champion
Rochelle Gilmore - Three time winner and Commonwealth Games Champion - injuredOther staff: Kurt Bogaerts (Director), Jarrod Moroni (Mechanic), Jon McEniry (Masseur), Maria Bewcyk (Physio) and Bart Hazen (Photographer)
You would think that in my 10th edition of the Bay Series that it would all come quite naturally to me now, but as the race grew nearer the nerves certainly spiked for this little MTB'er and the task at hand seemed daunting. For those of you that don't follow women's road cycling on an International scene it may be hard to comprehend the talent and ability of our Giorgia Bronzini. She clocked up 18 UCI wins last year, won 6 of 8 stages at the women's equivalent of the Tour de France, and was named 'sprinter of the year' by Velo Sports. To be in the same room as her is a privilege and to be able to learn from her is a gift in itself. Last night she proved why.
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen
The Ritchie Blvd evening circuit is an 600m hot-dog and our aim was to be aggressive, but it seemed that no other teams wanted a piece of that pie. It was surprising to see the teams racing defensively considering a betting man would say we have the strongest sprinter in the race, and that a breakaway was probably everyone else's best chance at victory. The first attack came from Kate Finnegan (Specialized) which was very short lived as she overcooked the first corner and crashed, bringing down Lauren Kitchen (Roxsolt Sydney Uni). I snuck up the inside and launched what turned out to be the only real break of the day. After a few laps solo where I clocked my fastest lap of the day by 4 seconds (50secs-HRavg 191!) the gap was nullified by Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) and Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized) with the field now slightly decimated.
I struggled to recover in time for the first intermediate sprint at the 15-minute mark and felt overwhelmed when Giorgia herself came back to lead me out! Shock! As expected I couldn't hold her wheel, and she rode away in chase of the leaders to finish second. She was then obliged to take out the second intermediate to make it worthwhile and as a result won the sprinters jersey today. With Lotte and Emilia both feeling the shock of racing in January, it was left to Linda to cover the late moves, while I tried to keep the pace high enough to hurt the sprinters that were a threat; namely Annette Edmonson (Orica-AIS) and Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt Sydney Uni).
|Giorgia takes the first win in 2014 for Wiggle Honda|
Photo courtesy jxpphotogrpahy
There was a flurry of attacks after the second intermediate and the bunch was now diminished to 18 riders. Orica-AIS began their lead-out with 5 laps to go and despite a massive effort to reach the front, I went straight back to where I came from and suffered on to finish in 15th. I watched on as the untouchable Giorgia unleashed her power out of the final corner to cruise to victory over Edmonson and Cromwell; who made a very impressive dive-bomb into the final corner. Linda finished 9th which also gave us the lead in the team classification.
So the New Year goes off with a bang but there were no celebrations last night as the job continues today. Defending the yellow won't be easy in such a high calibre field but I look forward to the challenge. It's not my favourite course around the Eastern Gardens in Geelong as the circuit is quite long, windy and wide making it somewhat easy in the bunch. If the race is aggressive however, the pinch up the hill will do some damage and certainly make it worth the watch! Racing kicks off with the Support Men at 11:30am and Elite Women at 1:30pm.
Results: Via Peloton Cafe
Photo Gallery: Via Peloton Cafe