In Her Own Words: Tiffany Cromwell Previews GP Plouay-Bretagne WC

Thu 29 Aug 2013

ORICA-AIS will line up for the final World Cup of the 2013 season in Brittany, France on Saturday. After seven rounds of World Cup racing, Emma Johansson sits in second position in the series rankings behind reigning World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Marianne Vos (Rabo Women). After her recent World Cup win in Sweden, the Dutchwoman has sealed an unassailable overall lead for the second consecutive year.

Last year, Tiffany Cromwell was the best placed ORICA-AIS rider in Plouay, second across the line behind Vos. In her own words, Cromwell previews the final World Cup of the year.

The Plouay course is essentially the same as the one we raced on last year. They changed things up a bit from previous years. We now do five undulating laps of 27km. The previous course was harder in terms of difficulty, but any race in the Brittany region is a challenge. The terrain here is tough.

There are a number of difficult climbs throughout the course that vary in style – punchy and sharp or long and dragging. We start with the former. After a short, steep descent, we have little time to recover before the course then starts to drag upwards. If the peloton is racing hard, this is where it can get quite tough.

The most selective section of the circuit comes within the final 10km. From the wide and fast highway road, we deviate onto a narrow and steep but short climb that hits 13% in places. Over the top of that, we rejoin the wide highway that makes up the final long drag of the circuit. Typically, over the top of this climb there are crosswinds that really stretch out the group and make the racing hard. In fact, with two laps to go, this is the section where the front group of ten split from the rest of the reduced field last year.

Judith Arndt and I were in that group together. Looking to my team leader, I asked Judith “What should I do?” and her answer was simply “Attack.” That’s what I did. Vos and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec UCK) joined me, and the rest is history.

The new course may not be as selective as the old one, but it’s still a race of attrition. In my first three years racing on the old course, I finished outside the time limit twice and once inside the top 20. Finally, I had a breakthrough ride in Plouay last year. I came into the race with really good form at the end of the season and managed to make the front group.  

I feel like I’m better at dealing with the end of season fatigue at this point in my career. It’s all part of the progression. On this new course there are more opportunities to recover a bit and then chances to dig hard. I’m learning how to go deep when others can’t put the pieces together.

Our one goal for Plouay is winning. We also want to keep Emma [Johansson] in second place for the World Cup rankings. Vos is leading by too big a margin, so we know we can’t win the overall. Ellen Van Dijk [Specialized lululemon] is in third at 28 points behind Emma, so it’s possible but unlikely she could overtake Emma for second place

Winning Plouay is more important than Emma’s World Cup ranking, so in that regard it doesn’t matter who we race for on Saturday. We back each other up and support each other in every race scenario. Lotto was a perfect example of how we might set up the finish for one rider, but another rider takes the win when the opportunity presented itself.

At this point in the season, everyone has personal goals for events like the World Championships or securing a contract. From the inside we know that there are some girls who are still hoping for a tap on the shoulder for a World’s selection and others who are using these late season races as building blocks to keep form high for Worlds. It can make this time of year a bit funny. Still, we all know what we need to do to accomplish our goals – and that’s to support the team’s goals.

ORICA-AIS for GP de Plouay-Bretagne WC

Amanda Spratt
Emma Johansson
Melissa Hoskins
Shara Gillow
Sungeun Gu
Tiffany Cromwell