In His Own Words: Sport Director Dave McPartland on World Cup Round Six

Fri 16 Aug 2013

For the second consecutive year, ORICA-AIS stood on the podium in Vårgårda, Sweden following the sixth round of the World Cup series. The Australian outfit posted the third fastest time in the team time trial behind Specialized-lululemon and Rabobank-Liv/Giant.

Specialized-lululemon, the reigning Team Time Trial World Champions, covered the 42.5km technical course in 53’59 for a decisive win by 38” over Rabobank-Liv/Giant. Although the Dutch squad bested the American team at the first intermediate split, Specialized-lululemon made up for their cautious start by the second time check. ORICA-AIS posted consistent times throughout their effort, third at both time checks and across the finish line, stopping the clock at 55’25.

Sport Director Dave McPartland had stated that he expected his team to stand on the podium on Friday and believed a win was a realistic goal. Following the evening effort, he reported that while his riders were disappointed with the result, he considered the outing an important learning experience ahead of the most important team time trial at the end of next month – the World Championships. McPartland describes the team’s day, in his own words, below.

We had the benefit of being one of the last teams to race, so we were able to learn a little bit from the early times and tweak our approach accordingly. There were a lot of teams completely smashing in the first half but coming to second checkpoint with only four riders. I think the wind was doing some serious damage. There was a tailwind on the way out and a strong headwind on the way back. I told the girls to be cautious in the first half and that we might want to think about a negative split.

The first intermediate time check provided our only main reference point. Although we could hear times for a few teams for the second intermediate check, the radio had dropped out for us at that point. At the first split, we were 19” behind Specialized. We had began quite well with a fast but controlled start.

Having now seen the intermediate split times, I know that we lost another 40” on Specialized and were 59” slower than them by the second time check.  We were 35” behind Rabobank at that point. Although I didn’t know the exact times while the girls were racing, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had. There wasn’t anything I could have said to them to have inspired a reversal in those sorts of losses given the bad luck that followed for us.

Around 10km from the finish, Loes Gunnewijk punctured. It was a shame losing her given the strength and leadership she provides to our time trial team. That left us with five. Unfortunately, we were very quickly down to four. As we changed Loes’ wheel, Jess MacLean got dropped. Having only four put a lot of pressure on the remaining riders as the fourth riders time is the one taken at the finish.

We went to the finish with Spratty [Amanda Spratt], Emma [Johansson], Shara [Gillow] and Mel [Hoskins]. Even without knowing our second time split, I knew our chance of winning was over when we were down to four riders. To finish on the podium is still satisfying.

I’m impressed with the way the girls managed the different scenarios that developed on the road. We obviously didn’t plan for a puncture and the way it would put pressure on our remaining riders who were already on their limit. The girls are well aware that something like this can happen, and they adapted quite well.

Everyone is feeling pretty down at the moment, but I see this as an opportunity. It’s our first top level time trial in preparation for the Worlds in September. Yes, we see that we have things to work on, but I don’t see any reason to be overly negative. We have a bit over a month to work on the areas that require our attention and chip away until we see improvements.