Elizabeth Emery Sport
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HP LaserJet Women's Challenge
Stage 7
American Falls, Idaho, June 14, 1999

By Giana Roberge

At 175 kilometers (110 miles) today's stage is probably the longest most of the women have or will ever race. All combined, the three mountains, the wind, and the heat made for a challenging day. The peloton was eager to get the race started this morning. Everyone was staged prior to the instructed time; there was an anxiety within the group about the distance. I was delighted that there were early attacks. It was clear that there would be no negative racing today; each team took their turn sending riders off.

"Today drinking enough was the key. It was hot and long and open and windy and day 6. I started with two large bottles and a small, and threw a small away right at the start line. Leah brought me 2 or 3 bottles, I got one from the neutral water van, and took one from the feed zone. ." -- EE
We hit the first climb at a pretty good clip. The group broke up quickly, but with 150 kilometers still to race it was inevitable that the main group would come back together. After the descent word spread quickly that there was to be a pee break after the first time bonus sprint. I let our team know this immediately on my way back to the caravan.

Holding my bottle high in the air, I smiled at the commissar as she called up our team car up to feed me. The officials have done an excellent job here. Having participated in races that lack accurate results, the officiating is one other aspect of this race that makes it so enjoyable.

No matter how organized the officials are at calling up the team cars, there is another race that exists back in the caravan. As a rider you do not want to go farther back than the back of the commissar's car to get bottles. However, there are another fifteen women all trying to stay as far upfront as possible, making it difficult for the team vehicles to move up to where you are. Not only are you watching the riders around you, listening to the honking of the team vehicles, trying your best not to get whacked by a crazy manager, but you are also watching the front of the peloton in case there are attacks. No need to get dropped while feeding; there are the mountains for that.

Because of today's heat, I found myself back at the car more than in the group. I discovered places to put bottles that I did not know existed until today. Two in my sports bra, one in each jersey pocket, two on the bike, and one in my hand. I also brought many jam sandwiches, peaches, Mountain Lift bars, and GUs in an effort to keep everyone fed and happy. And it was an awesome sight to see women feeding from the team cars like the professional men. Not only did we feed like the men, but we completed the 175 kilometers in about four and a half hours today, breaking the course record by 27 minutes. We were absolutely hauling on the flats, with attacks and heroic efforts from every team.

Susy Pryde (Saturn) tried another solo break away. And although it did not stick, I am certain it will one day soon. We had a rider in every break today; and, it was such a relief to see that none of the women were intimidated by the distance or the heat. Each one of us raced our bikes today.

Between the many runs back to the car, I also found time to bridge to a promising break, and help to chase down a dangerous one. I am having such a great time racing with Kim and Annie; it is as if we can read each other's minds. Annie spent some time off the front today with three other women; unfortunately with Ina Teutenberg and Petra Rossner still in the main group the German National Team organized a chase. Within ten kilometers to the finish a field sprint was inevitable.

Ina won the sprint with an extraordinarily fast leadout from her team. I love to watch Ina and Petra manipulate the sprint; they are the consummate professionals. Petra, the faster of the two, takes so much pride in leading out Ina and setting her up for the win. And isn't that what having teammates is all about?

 © 2000
 Giana Roberge
 & Elizabeth Emery
 John Tomlinson
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