In His Own Words: Sport Director Dave McPartland on Bira Stage One

Thu 6 Jun 2013

Tiffany Cromwell and Emma Johansson finished on bunch time in the opening stage of Emakumeen Euskal Bira. With an interest in the general classification, ORICA-AIS considered it top priority to deliver their overall contenders safely to the line with the field. Mission accomplished. Cromwell managed eighth in the sprint won by Marianne Vos (Rabobank / Liv Giant) who outfoxed the sprinters after a short, lumpy stage. In his own words, Sport Director Dave McPartland reviews the day from a team perspective.

The major objective today was to keep Emma and Tiff in a good position for the overall. Firstly, we were to look after Emma with Tiff as a strong second priority. We understood that there was a good chance that today’s stage would end in a bunch sprint, and we decided that once we were assured of the safety of Emma and Tiff, we’d assess our possibilities in the finish.

I asked Nettie [Annette Edmondson] to look after herself during the first half of the race. I didn’t give her any support through the hills. The agreement was that if she made it through the hills in good shape, we’d look after her through the finish. She definitely held up her end of the bargain. Despite crashing on the mid-stage category three climb, she made it back to the bunch. Twenty kilometres from the finish, it was obvious that we were setting up for a big bunch sprint. Emma and Tiff were sitting pretty in the pack, and we planned to put Nettie up for the sprint.

Unfortunately, we were lacking some horsepower today. If you read our race preview, you know that Spratty [Amanda Spratt] flew back to Italy this morning after crashing out of Durango on Tuesday. We were down one rider before we even started. We lost Loes [Gunnewijk] to a puncture at an especially unfortunate time. She had a flat tyre on a descent and never made it back to the bunch. We were down to four, two of whom I had identified for the overall. This meant we lacked support to give Nettie in the finish.

The closing kilometres were quite messy. Other teams with sprinters seemed to have the same trouble that we did getting organised. Nettie did the best she could with the little support we could provide, but she lost Tiff’s wheel in the argy-bargy at the end. Tiff stayed near the front and out of trouble, going on to take eighth place and Nettie finished just outside the top ten.

When a race does not go according to plan, it’s common that each of the girls will have their own version of how the day unfolded for the team. It’s my job to listen to each of them and find a way for us to acknowledge the different versions so that we can move forward as a cohesive unit for the next stage. We talk about the mistakes we made and the things that we did right. What we didn’t nail today, we have to nail tomorrow – how do we do that? Everyone puts it on the table, but once the meeting is finished, it’s done.

In terms of the overall, nothing was lost or gained. Marianne Vos won the stage, but without bonus seconds, she hasn’t put any time into anybody. Both Emma and Tiff finished on bunch time, and looking after them again on stage two will again be the main priority.