In Her Own Words: Tiffany Cromwell on Toscana Prologue

Fri 31 Aug 2012

The Giro della Toscana opened with a 2.2 kilometer prologue. Tiffany Cromwell was the top finisher for ORICA-AIS in 16th place, eight seconds down on stage winner Annemiek Van Vleuten (Rabobank Women). Below, she describes her day.

There’s certainly a lot of effort, energy and logistics that go into a prologue. It’s such a short event. Three minutes today – a little under or a little over depending on who you are.

We didn’t use time trial bikes because all our time trial equipment is with the team time trial squad in Holland. Normally, we’d have to worry about time trial bikes – and all that’s involved in their usage – plus prepare the road bikes as our spares.

We had to wait around all day because the crazy Italians like to make us race in the dark. About three or four hours ahead of the stage start, the preparations begin in earnest.

We ate our pre-race meal. We reviewed our start times. We sorted out all the race logistics and headed out to the course for the team presentation. The presentation is always well before our start time, so that means we wait around some more.

We recon’ed the course, and we all have individualized warm-ups. My trainer warm-up includes 25 minutes with a lot of explosive efforts to get my body going. A prologue that’s this short is a max effort from start to finish. We go full gas and leave nothing in reserve.

Out on the course, there’s barely time to think. This course included three straight stretches of road separated by three hairpin corners. We raced in the the dark, and it was difficult to see. Essentially, it was like ‘Go, go, go as fast as you can. Eek. Corner. Go, go, go. Hairpin. Go, go, go. Small bend. Pavé.” and then suddenly it was the finish.

The finish was a bit tricky, too, because 10 meters past the finish, we had to come to a complete stop. It’s crazy to go from full gas to slamming on brakes in the space of 10 meters. Just past the finish line, the moto would pull off. Riders at the end of the prologue were directed into this tiny little shout off area otherwise they would run into the place where the other riders were starting. We’re still feeling the effects of this full gas effort, and suddenly we need to have enough wits about ourselves to stop. Immediately.

Toscana is a low-key race for ORICA-AIS. We only have four riders here, and I have been given the opportunity to ride for the general classification. I’m happy with the start to my race. I never know what to expect out of prologues. Typically they’re suited to sprinters and more explosive type riders – which is definitely not me.

Racing on a road bike and without the use of disc wheels would have made a difference in our performances. The road bike probably handled better in the corners than the time trial bikes would have, but on the straights, the disc would have been an advantage.

I can be good on technical prologues, but this course was for a power rider. These types of courses are typically my weakness, and it’s something I have actively been working to improve. Having time trialed on a road bike and on a course that doesn’t suit me, I’m happy to have only lost eight seconds to the fastest rider. I’m in a good spot to have a crack at the general classification.