World Cup Round 2
Hamilton, New Zealand, Sunday March 14, 1999
After riding the course (5.7km per lap, which we would ride 18 times for 102km) on Saturday and again in warm-up before the race, I decided it was a difficult course. However, with all the ups and downs and corners there were places to chase, making it difficult to get away. Also, with the field afraid of Hanka and no one team super strong, I wasn't convinced the race would split up like it did in Australia. Hanka Kupfernagel would have a hard time getting away because her style is to go to the front and ride others off her wheel. I didn't see a place to put in a long enough sustained effort to achieve that. And, with the head wind on the one spot it might have worked, she was at a disadvantage.
Almost at the gun, Hanka went. She took Karen Kurreck, Liz Tadich, and Miriam Melchers (a giant Dutchie). Liz sat on because she was working for Anna Wilson who won the last World Cup. They got some time but remained in sight. The Gas Team and Dream Team chased pretty hard and got quite close then let off and the break gained back some time. Then Anna made the move to bridge, did so and brought the pack right behind her.
During all this, which lasted three or so laps, I suffered way more than I thought I would. My knees ached, my quads screamed and I thought there is no way I can go around this course 18 times. "We haven't even done 5 laps yet!" To stay with the group I worked on staying in good position. In my pre-course rides I paid particular attention to which sides of the course I wanted to be on according to the wind and the direction of the turns. Sticking with my plan got me through those first laps.
Once we caught the break, the pace settled somewhat. Hanka seems to get frustrated quickly and doesn't use her strength the way I would use it. She tried a few more times and succeeded in stringing out the pack considerably. Never was a real group formed and never was the group so strung out and breaking apart that it didn't come back together. We did lap quite a few riders in big groups. Our 100-rider field was probably 50ish. Hanka wasn't getting any help from her teammates, so she was setting herself up and trying to make the big move as well. It wasn't flying today.
The Australians were working for Anna to keep her in the lead overall. Anna, meanwhile, looked tired. She is strong so her bridge to the original break was moderately successful (not entirely because she brought the field close behind her), and she made a few attacks on the steep pitch in the course. My guess was she would be satisfied with a sprint.
The Gas team is without Gas at this time of the year. Alessandra Cappellotto is riding the best and Fabiana Luperini has gotten quite a bit stronger since she got here. She is also riding in the pack better than I've ever seen her, which may only be because she is usually miles ahead of me and I don't see her.
The Dream Team didn't do that much. I thought they might be hoping to set up Sara Felloni for the sprint. Mari Holden looked tired. The others are getting fitter by the mile.
The pace was hard and yet there was little action. Still, no one seems to have the power to get enough separation from the field. I don't. I made a few attempts, and got tiny gaps, quickly closed -- once (again) by my good friend. With 3 laps to go, Janita Feldman (AUS) attacked up the final little rise leading to the finishing straight. She took with her Bonanomi (Dream Team) and Gunn-Rita Dahle (Norway). And, man, they were gone! Unfortunately, Janita didn't hang on and we caught her. The other two kept going and going. KK was up there and I don't really know why she decided not to go along. Pam was up there because she had just made an attack but didn't really have it to go again. I was just behind Pam and not up far enough. In any case, that was the move. It was weird how no move to catch them was made. Pam tried and didn't get anywhere. Hanka, KK and Anna got away for a bit and were then caught after being chased by Mazza and Dream Team.
In the end Bonanomi won, Gunn-Rita was second. Tracey Gaudry made a bold move at 1km to go. It seemed really far to me with the headwind and she still held it for 3rd. Anna Wilson took the mass sprint for 4th. Pam Schuster got 8th and I pray I was in the top 20. I didn't see KK or Mari. Anne Samplonius rode a great race. She is great at corners and made up time around everyone. She was there in the sprint.
Pam and I dashed home to the Griffin's to get to the airport on time for our flight, which is, in fact, delayed for 3 hours.
Two days at home and then off to Sea Otter in Monterey, California.