In Her Own Words: Tiffany Cromwell Previews Plouay World CupSat 25 Aug 2012
With the eighth and final race of the World Cup series on tap tomorrow, I thought I might share my thoughts on the race with all of you. GP de Plouay - Bretagne is one of the harder courses we face all season. The race exists in the context of a large four-day cycling festival. The elite women race on Saturday, and the men race on Sunday. This area of France, Brittany, is the heart of French cycling, and there’s always a lot of support out on the course.
It’s a funny time of year – especially in an Olympic year. There are some riders that are tired and a bit burnt out. Everyone is at different fitness and motivation levels. That’s not to say we won’t face some tough competition. We will. This will be one of the most hotly contested races of the year.
We race five laps over a 27 kilometer circuit to cover 135 kilometers in total. It’s an expanded course from previous years that includes short power climb after short power climb on the front end of the course. There’s a longer climb in the second part of the loop that generally makes the race. It’s often the launching pad for attacks.
Our objective is to win the race. We have a strong team that is fully capable of accomplishing that goal. We haven’t talked tactics or had any team meetings yet, so I can’t say much more than that. Anyone on our team, in the right move, has the ability to win.
Part of what makes this race so hard is that you might be there and amongst the action until suddenly you’re not. Attack after attack, you can respond until it’s one attack too many and you don’t have it anymore. On this course, once you’re dropped, it’s nearly impossible to make it back to the bunch.
I’ve raced here three times with mixed results. My first time at Plouay was during my second season of racing in Europe, and I finished outside the time limit. Two years ago, I finished inside the top 20. Last year, I was outside the time limit again. The race is extremely selective, and the time limit is one of the smaller ones we see all year. It’s not uncommon for more than half the field to finish outside of time – or not finish at all.
Rain is forecasted for Saturday, and wet roads would certainly make for a more sketchy race. There are some fast descents and tight corners, and those types of features are more dangerous in the rain. Rain would mean more nerves in the bunch. We would need to be extra attentive to position to be sure we didn’t get caught out or stuck behind a crash.
Rain or not, we still have to race our bikes, and we’ll be racing to win.
ORICA-AIS for GP de Plouay – Bretagne: