Q&A With DS Dave McPartland on Trentino Double Day

Sat 15 Jun 2013

It was a rough start for ORICA-AIS to the double day of racing at Giro del Trentino Alto Adige. Sport Director Dave McPartland had masterminded a technically sound plan for the morning time trial in the hopes of achieving a top result to well-position his team for the overall victory. The morning did not go according to plan, and the team was forced to change tactics on the fly. They ultimately went on to finish in eighth place on the stage, 1’25 behind stage winners Be Pink.

The squad of six rallied for the afternoon road race. The 89 kilometre half stage ended with a steep summit finish. A quiet start gave way to fireworks in the finale, which saw Emma Johansson ultimately climb to second place, notching her 15th podium of the season. Ahead of the final stage of the two day, three stage Italian tour, Johansson sits in seventh place, 1’53 behind race leader Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon).

After the full day of racing, McPartland checked in as he was driving back to the race hotel to answer questions about the first day of Trentino racing.

Q: Did the team ride road bikes or time trial bikes during the morning team time trial?

Our time for the team time trial was determined by the third rider that crossed the finish line, so we only needed to take our three strongest climbs up the hill. After doing the recon yesterday, we decided to split our squad into two groups of three. The first group of three – Gracie Elvin, Sungeun Gu and Melissa Hoskins – would ride time trial bikes and do the early work on the flatter part of the effort. Emma Johansson, Shara Gillow and Jessie MacLean rode road bikes that allowed them to make it uphill more efficiently.

Q: After the time trial, Melissa Hoskins tweeted “TTT done here in Trentino! Team rode well considering everything that could have gone wrong almost did!” – what exactly went wrong?

Emma and Shara controlled the pace over the first uphill section as planned. We took the entire team over the top together. From there, Mel, Gu and Gracie were meant to do the work. Gu appeared in trouble as soon as she did her first turn on the front, and we lost her straightaway. We were down to five, which put a bit of extra pressure on the girls. We weren’t entirely unprepared for this scenario.

Not much longer later, we lost Jess. That was a big surprise, and it required a complete change in plan. Jess was meant to be one of three to make it up the climb, and we had to assign that role to Gracie on the fly. I called the plan change over the radio, and it was impressive to see how quickly they adjusted. It put heaps of pressure on Gracie, and she did bloody awesome going uphill as well as she did.

Q: Gracie was on a time trial bike and Emma and Shara were on road bikes. Was it difficult for Gracie to match their pace on the climb to the finish?

Yes. We kept her on the time trial bike for the start of the climb, but it was obvious she wouldn’t be able to stick with the others without a bike change. As soon as the gradient went up, it was too much trouble for her to get out of her saddle. The climb started at 8.5 kilometres, and at the nine kilometre mark, we did the switch. We lost a fair bit of time doing that, but it was better than the alternative.

Q: What was the sentiment after the morning stage?

 We had hoped to do better in the team time trial, so the girls were pretty disappointed. They managed to deal with that pretty quickly and fight back for the arvo stage.

Q: How did things unfold for the team in the afternoon road race?

Much better than in the morning! Emma came in second on the stage.

Q: Anything to report from the early action?

It was relatively quiet for most of the day. We had planned to work for Shara in the uphill finish, but we had wanted to be aggressive before that point. We tried to get a few moves up the road. There wasn’t much interest in that. Specialized-lululemon controlled for Evie Stevens. They shut down all of our attacks. Nothing got away.

Q: What happened once the race hit the summit finish?

We were setting things up for Shara. She did a good little attack at the base of climb. Evie countered the move and went straight over the top of Shara. Emma reacted to the counter-attack and jumped to follow. The acceleration put Emma at her limit, so she backed off slightly and went back to climbing at her own rhythm for awhile, eventually finding a group of four.

Elisa Longo Broghini (Hitec Products UCK) and Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini Giordana) had come out of the bunch at that point and made their way past Emma. Three kilometres from the finish, Emma rode off the front of her group and made it across to Elisa and Tatiana. Evie managed to hold off everyone to take a solo win. Emma won the three-up sprint for second.