Friday June 28, 2002 Mont St Anne, Quebec It`s 2 days out from the race and the weather has changed again. It`s hot, dam hot. The course has changed considerably - cut up and different lines and muddy, dam muddy. The Quebec Cup or Citizens race took place today over some of the World Cup course and the Downhill takes place tomorrow. All the teams are setup and the village is a hive of activity. The Shimano support have tweaked my gears and Rock Shox have tweaked my forks so all should be ready to go. I`ll have one last ride on the course tomorrow, then race day is Sunday.
I’m now in Beaupre, just out of Quebec City, resting up and preparing for the Mont St Anne World Cup on Sunday. I’ll get a brief overview of the HP tour up soon, though Christian did a mighty fine job while I was offline.
The HP tour finished on Sunday and early Monday morning the team went separate ways. Sarah and Doon headed to Belgium, Jeff to Fitchburg, Joh to Switzerland, Nik and Toni back to NZ and Suz and Gaz off to cruise around Idaho. I spent the day in transit via Denver and Toronto to get to Quebec City at 9pm.
I met up with Sadie and the other kiwis (Mark Leishman, Hilton Power and Nick Hotchkin) who had arranged motel accommodation 8km or so from Mont St Anne. Since Tuesday we’ve been cruising the course and arranging accommodation closer to the resort from Friday on.
Today the skies opened up and while out on the course, we got caught in a thunderstorm. The course is slightly different to last year, though same terrain – very much like Mount Vic but with rocks! The newly cut single track has been cut up and with the downpour the tree roots are very slippery. It’s a figure 8 course of 6km with a bridge cross over point, which should make for good spectating. It has the same V shoot where I hit the bridge last year and injured my knees so I’ll be keeping an eye on that this year. And the first climb is a little shorter than last year at about 245m but more than compensated with another 240m climb near the cross over point. But it could be a different ball game if this weather continues. I’ll keep you posted.
Stage 8 of the 2002 Women's Challenge - The Wirestone Statehouse Criterium.
I needed luck for the crit today. It was tough and stinkin' hot. I didn't have it enough to hang in there for the 48 laps but I easily made it past the 12 lap time cut and the 24 lap half way mark, so after cruising a couple of laps (to be lapped out) I got pulled with about 20 laps to go. Not sure what my prorated time was. Anyway Jo and Toni were lucky to make the 12 lap time cut and Nik got pulled with me. Unfortunately Sarah got taken down in a crash and was put out of the race so Susie was the only one to finish with the bunch. The verdict of Sarah's crash is that she can't start tomorrow, finish the tour or get any prize money as she didn't get pulled out by an official. Bugger. She's been amazingly fine about it though. She's got quite a gash in her elbow and bruised all up her arm - at first she couldn't feel her arm so it seemed all bad, but she has bounced back very well.
So, it'll all be over tomorrow. Yay. Just need to make it through 90km tomorrow - and I'm sure it won't be easy as it's quite a prestigous stage. Ends with 5 laps around the city centre with quite a few spectators.
Hello! Today is the 8th Stage of the 2002 Women's Challenge - The Wirestone Statehouse Criterium.
Yesterday Sarah lost the 'sprint points' jersey, today we are going to help her get it back!!
check out the live coverage on the HP website from 9am this morning (sunday) www.womenschallenge.com Race report to follow :-))
19 June: 140km
The first two-thirds of this journey is flat and favors the quick, while the final one-third is all about who can ignore the pain and win the 15 mile, 3,400 ft. charge to the Pomerelle ski resort. This new 140km stage is not for the timid or unprepared!
Geez….just when you think they couldn’t get much tougher…they design this course!!! The longest stage of the tour at 140km, with a 24km up hill climb to the high altitude finish! It was always going to be a hard day on the bike.
Robyn started this stage riding at the front of the field and just behind the hugely strong team RONA train. Rona were riding hard today in order to cover all the breaks, and get their team leader to the bottom of the final hill at the front of the pack so she could destroy the rest of the field 'Lance Armstrong' style, and take over the race lead. (which is just what she did!!)
It was pretty damn fast from the gun, lots of small breaks going up the road, but all seemed to get reeled in a few kms later as the bunch screamed onwards….a huge crash at 40km involving over 20 riders split the field, with some not able to rejoin the pack, they had to chase or ride solo for 100k to the finish, Robyn was lucky to get thru unscathed, when the riders hit the deck, the only way to avoid the carnage and an airborne bike was to aim straight towards the ditch at the side of the road (MTB skills came in handy here!!). She eventually got thru though, and chased hard to rejoin the pack.
Robyn made it to the final climb to the finish, she said her legs felt good, and she was riding pretty hard, but perhaps the altitude did some strange things to her heart rate, as it didn’t seem to go above 165!!
But a good meal with the rest of the team, and a good night of recovery….and she reckons she'll be fully ready for another good ride tomorrow, and another hill top finish!
Oh yeah, no email access at the moment, but keep sending the HP fanmail, the riders receive it at the start of each stage, all the support is fantastic!!
Another report via Christian
17 June: 40k TT . This stage was a good opportunity to rest the legs, not go too hard out, and recover a bit in prep for the hard days to come. The course was out and back with a tail wind on the return leg. Robyn rode it pretty steady, and clocked a respectable time of just over 1hr….the riders who rode the course later were assisted more and more by the wind which really started to pick up on the return leg. With conditions slightly cooler today, it was a welcome change from the searingly hot conditions of the previous few days.
18 June: 90km stage. Long up-hill to a pass at about half way, then long gradual descent to the finish. The race experienced strong crosswinds today, riders were strung out across the road in small echelons each one trying to bridge to the next, with riders suffering and all fighting to keep out of the wind, and hold on to the shelter of the wheel in front.
Robyn was feeling good today, riding at the front of the bunch right from the start, the NZ team plan was to help Sarah win the 'Hot Spot' sprint points to keep the jersey. Sarah managed to get into a small break group before the sprint, and cross the line to get 2nd points….increasing the gap to her closest rival who was back in the bunch. (one more day in the sprint jersey for Sarah means she will now have 6 - one for each rider in the team)
On the hill, Robyns says she had great legs today, the bunch strung out, but Robyn kept in touch with the leaders up the brutal climb which rose to 8700ft, over the top, there was a small split in the pack, and Robyn found herself just off the tail of the lead group, chasing down the descent with 7 others.
This group worked well together, but with 20k to go were absorbed by a massive bunch which had been chasing them since the hill summit, they crossed the line together.
Sarah and Suzy had a great day today with Robyn coming in close behind.
Tomorrows stage starts at 12pm, (6am NZ time)
It will be the longest of the tour around 140km and finish with a torturous 20km mountain climb to the finish…….
Robyn's Report - via Christian
Stage 1: 98deg Fahrenheit!!! Hot damn hot!, NZ team agreed to work as a team, and help any rider who got away, or was doing well in any of the jersey competitions. Sarah Ulmer finished the stage in the Points Jersey, and the Sprint Jersey. Most riders went thru up to 8 bottles of water today, many including Robyn ran out, when the support vehicles used up all they had…made for a long dry stage.
Robyn suffered for this dehydration after the stage with a massive headache, and a few bouts of vomiting…..but as they say…better out than in! so after this she was fine to have dinner, re-hydrate, and get a good nights sleep.
Stage 2: another hot one….1 big climb 20km long rising from 3000ft-7000ft
The plan was to set Sarah Ulmer up with a good lead out for the sprint points today…leading up, Sarah was on Robyns wheel ready for the wind up, but robyn got fully boxed in!! Luckily Suzy got thru, Sarah latched on for the lead out, and got 2nd in the sprint, and kept the Sprint jersey for another day.
The race split up the climb….Robyn re-grouped with some strong riders, and they successfully caught 3 more groups on the road before the finish….
Tomorrow is a 40km Individual TT……with a huge hilly stage the following day, this could be a chance for some riders to just cruise this stage, to rest their legs ready for the mountains.
Robyn said that the team spirit is great!! Sarah is so positive and down to earth, the rest of the team really respond to her great attitude.
The team support is great, team mechanics do everything, even clean!!!! And her gears have never run so sweet!!!
Suzy and Robyn also enjoy all the support via 'fan mail' on the HP website !!! Keep em coming
Build up to Hewlett Packard 9 Day Women's Challenge June 15-23, 2002
I made it. I arrived in Boise, Idaho at 10:30pm on Tuesday night after 27 hours of flying and transitting in airports. Not a bad trip thanks to an excellent seat right behind business class on my United flight from Auckland to LA sector.
I walked into Boise expecting to find my team mates, no doubt eager to see me – but alas, the pin ball machine was far more exciting than me and I had to pry Nik and Suz away from “Attack from Mars” to take me to a bed. Nik and Suz had arranged a house for me to stay which was perfect – a very stunning house and a luxury king size bed, and thanks to the hospitality of the local Boise folk, free.
13 hours sleep! Perfect.
Assembled the bike, then headed out on a “publicity” ride with some of the local girls and guys. What a cruise – only an hour, flat with a lot of traffic lights. After a pasta feed, we took another trip out to the airport to collect Toni Bradshaw, then our whole team was present and accounted for in Boise. Sarah Ulmer also arrived that night and Johanna Buick had already been here for 2 weeks.
On Thursday we moved into the Hotel accommodation provided to us by the Tour, which was pretty luxurious and had plenty of room for the bikes. We made it to the “in-processing” for a lovely mug shot, paper work galore then signing of about 50 posters for the sponsors. Met Joel, a physical therapist, who spent over an hour pummeling my shoulders and neck then rigged me up to some electrical stimulation. Pain has to be our friend. And I am definitely better for it.
That night we had our first team dinner. Brendon Cameron and Jeff Alexander will be running around after us for the next 9 days but we postponed all the formalities and team discussions until after the team meeting on Friday.
So, here we are. Friday night and our bikes are being tended to by the neutral support mechanics but there are still a few preparations to be made for the first stage of 111km. The website has been updated so check out for upcoming results. I'll keep on posting so check back soon.