Sports Director Dave McPartland Previews Swedish World CupsSat 18 Aug 2012
Hello from Sweden,
World Cup racing returns this weekend with two events in Vargarda. The only stand-alone team time trial we race ahead of the Road World Championships opens the two-race weekend on Friday. A road race follows on Sunday.
The team time trial is the most important of the two events for us. We have put a fair bit of effort and preparation into this discipline over the entire year. The team trial offers an obvious means to show a collective stamp of authority. A team can ride well all year with only select riders getting individual results. The public will see how well Judith rides or Linda rides. They’ll remember when Tiffany soloed to victory at the Giro Donne or Mel won the Chongming Island overall. They won’t always understand the work that goes into setting up the rider that made the result. A team time trial is different. The whole team shares the reward of a good day.
We have many strong time trial riders within this team. Our goal is to win against the high level of competition that has assembled in Vargarda. There are a few other really good teams here, and whoever wins will have earned a hard-fought victory. Specialized-lululemon comes in as the race favorites. We shouldn’t be too far behind -- if we don’t set the standard ourselves. We’re eager to knock them off their perch before the team time trial makes its debut at the Road World Championships. Between now and then, there’s another team time trial at the Holland Ladies Tour, but that’s within a stage race. It has a different feel than a single day event like this.
The course here is lumpy and really fast. The only technical part is near the finish. It’s somewhat similar to the Worlds course, but it’s not quite as hard.
Our line-up for Friday includes Judith Arndt, Linda Villumsen, Shara Gillow, Claudia Häusler, Loes Gunnewijk and Alex Rhodes.
Judith is the current World Champion in the individual time trial, and her accolades in the discipline speak for themselves. She will be our leader on the road. I expect her to both lead the actual effort and to guide her teammates in the process.
Second to Judith at Worlds in the time trial last year and recently fourth at the Olympic time trial, Linda has consistently posted strong individual results. She’s clearly in good condition at the moment. Linda is always solid in an individual effort, and she thrives on the whole team aspect of this discipline.
Loes may not have the results that Linda and Judith have, but she certainly has their experience. I expect her to be one of the riders that stays with the team to the finish. She’s coming off a strong performance in the Olympic road race, and she’s super motivated.
I’m eager to see how Shara will fit in with the team. She’s really strong individually but lacks experience in team time trials. This a good opportunity for her to learn how to handle the challenges this discipline poses.
We haven’t seen enough of Claudia in individual time trials this year to know what to expect of her in the team event. We’ve put her in as a sort of test to see how she’ll mesh with the group for the Worlds team.
Alex is probably one of the most experienced Australian riders in the team time trial setting. She slots mid-way into this team in terms of overall experience. I expect her to stick with the others to the finish. Known as a diesel, she’s valuable and reliable in any team time trial.
The team we bring won’t necessarily be the team we field at Worlds. Post-race, we’ll assess the effort. We’ll take what we see from the car, the feedback we receive from riders and the result we posted to tell us who was consistent the whole way from start to finish and who held certain speeds at certain times without dropping their teammates. It’s a multi-faceted decision as to who include at Worlds and why. The race on Friday is an important step in that decision making process.
For the World Cup road race on Sunday, we pull out Shara and Alex and put in Tiffany Cromwell and Jessie MacLean. The course lends itself to a medium-sized bunch sprint, and that’s exactly what I saw the only other year I directed here. If the race comes down to a smaller sprint, we’ll look to Judith.
Of course it’s impossible to predict what will happen. The teams that bring pure sprinters could spend the entire race working to keep the field together. We can afford to attack even if the sprint teams seem intent on a bunch kick. Because we don’t have a pure sprinter, we won’t need the whole team to support Judith in the sprint. This gives us multiple cards to play.
We will look to Tiffany, Claudia and Jessie to take opportunities before the finish. If any of three make it up the road, we’d be eager to support them. They’re all capable of getting a good result from a small group. Tiff, in particular, has a good chance to do something here.
I’m knee deep in team time trial mode at the moment. It’s a special race to us and a huge goal. I haven’t quite switched to road race mode yet, but once the time trial is done and dusted, I’m sure I’ll get even more excited about our chances here. We started the season on the highest of high notes with an unbelievable winning streak, and we’re eager to wind down our season with an equally memorable tone.
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Vargarda TTT
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Vargarda RR