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                                Tour of Canberra - April 2006


Also, see Peta Mullen's Commonwealth Games interview  Click here




Peta Mullens' 2006 Diary

In a bid to gain selection for the Australian Junior World Road Championships squad, Peta Mullens, Tess Downing and Lisa Friend rode one of the nominated selection races, the Tour of Canberra. The three are Under 19 and were racing against their own age category and also against Elite women such as Kate Nichols, Emma Mackie and Kate Mercer.

Tour of Canberra  

Friday 21st April - Sunday 23rd April

Tuesday 18th April 

Today consisted of a 5 hour drive from Bright to Canberra with a few of the VIS boys after a successful annual Easter training camp, where we were all hoping to find some very late but needed form. Imagine a lot of food, a lot of energy, and a lot of athletes jumping around in the back of a van. Consider it a road trip! We arrived at Canberra at dinner, and the day was mild, indicating some hopeful good weather for the days to follow.


Wednesday 19th April 

And we were blessed!! While heading out to run over the time trial course we were due to race on the Friday, I was wishing I had applied sunscreen, the day turned out to be beautiful. A different course to the previous years had us curious as to whether a time trial bike was needed with the hills throughout the course. We headed home satisfied, trying so desperately not to get lost on the way back to our accommodation as we had on the way there. We dropped through the city for a brew stop and then, only 3kms from home, disaster struck. Well not quite disaster but a small accident. One of my fellow VIS members hit a cat eye taking himself and another two of us down with him. Scarred, bruised, and slightly disappointed, we were all able to ride home but spirits were low.


Thursday 20th April 

Getting closer to the day of racing and we decided to clean and prepare our bikes for the final time. Those of us who had decided to ride time trial bikes took them out for a final test. The strongest wind I've ever faced forced me to turn back early to save the legs for the following day. After our crash the day before we all sat 5metres off the wheel, sceptical about our chances for another crash. In the end it wasn't our skill, but a Canberra bus driver who decided to give us a final scare. We were lucky to stay upright after he decided to throw a hook at us in the bike lane!! And they say females are bad drivers...


Friday 21st April - Time Trial 15kms 

Today was the first day of racing, and thanks to a late afternoon start we were able to have a deserved sleep in. With many familiar faces there was little concentration dedicated to the race, but rather the many friends I hadn't seen for months. I'd had little preparation for today's stage and it showed in my performance. The course was to my liking but I was slightly disappointed in my efforts after the stage, I finished with a somewhat average time. The outstanding performer on the day was 16 year old Josie Tomic from Western Australia, placing third in the elite women's category and winning the U19 category. An inspiring ride by Victorian Tess Downing saw her finish 11th, struggling to fight bronchitis and on antibiotics, she was forced to withdraw from the tour after the first Road Race. I finished 16th in the time trial, a result I was determined to improve upon.


Time Trial   The results include the Top 3 elite women, the Top 3 U19 and then Peta, Tess and Lisa's results

1     Kate Mercer         EliteW      18:08.61 

2     Vicki Eustace      EliteW       18:15.10 

3     Josephine Tomic  U19W 1st  18:17.42 

4     Liz Young            EliteW       18:24.20 

10   Grace Sulzberger  U19W 2nd 18:48.34 

11   Tess Downing       U19W 3rd  18:48.94 

16   Peta Mullens        U19W 6th  18:56.03 

23   Lisa Friend           U19W 8th  19:18.62



Saturday 22nd April - Road Race #1 75kms 

I woke up very nervous today, I couldn't even feel my fingers or toes. But that was due to the 0'C degrees it was outside, not the nerves!! Racing in a combined A grade/U19 females field we were due for a double stage today, which is very rare in female cycling. We began the day with a 75km road race, containing 4 QOM's (Queen of the Mountains, climber's competition). The race got off to a slow start but I was in belief everyone was still trying to warm up. The course consisted of some hard hills, and two loops, yet the field was able to regroup after the first lap. Kate Mercer seemed to be dominating the QOM's and was in total control of the race with the help received from her Queensland team mates. Over the top of the third QOM there was a break of 14 girls who gained a lead on the remainder of the field, the break containing all of the main GC riders. It seemed they would stay away but lack of commitment to the break saw it all together before the final QOM. It was here that the field splintered and I managed to get myself into the lead group of 11 (containing just 3 U19 women) who stayed away until the finish, gaining a 43second advantage on the chasing bunch. An attack into the final corner saw a long and uphill sprint to the finish. I lead it out early and thought I looked like winning the race before getting rolled on the line by two of the elite women, still managing to take out the U19 category. Gaining a 5second time bonus placed me just 2seconds off the U19W leaders jersey.


Road Race 1 - 75kms 

1     Kate Nichols       EliteW     2:13:53 

2     Josie Loane        EliteW      s.t 

3     Peta Mullens      U19W  1st s.t 

4     Carly Hibberd      EliteW      s.t 

5     Grace Sulzberger U19W 2nd s.t 

8     Tiffany Cromwell   U19W 3rd s.t 

17   Lisa Friend           U19W 6th +43sec 

37   Tess Downing       U19W 11th +9:36min



Saturday 22nd April - Road Race #2 38kms 

The afternoon stage proved to have some of us complaining by the time we reached the start line, although we couldn't complain about how the day had turned out, it had warmed and wind was scarce. Kate Mercer was still leading the Elite Women General Classification after the first road stage, while Josephine Tomic had now lost the U19W jersey to Grace Sulzberger of Tasmania. It was a tight competition that meant every time bonus on the road was valuable. The race was somewhat more sedative than the morning stage, with no real attacks going off the front. The pace was on up the two QOM's and it was at the first that the filed split which saw 19 of the remaining 39 girls off the front. It became a tactical game after the passing of the second QOM, preparing for the decent into the finish. Unprepared for the bunch kick I made a late attempt to move through the bunch and came through the corner a long way back but with plenty of speed. Kate Nichols won by half a bike length and I was lucky to pick up third, along with another 5second time bonus that now put me in the U19W leaders jersey by just 2seconds. In the elite women, Kate Nichols, now within 10seconds of the jersey, was threatening Kate Mercers' once infeasible lead.


Road Race 2 - 38kms 

1     Kate Nichols         EliteW     1:19:29 

2     Emma Mackie      EliteW      s.t 

3     Peta Mullens        U19W 1st  s.t 

4     Alicia Evans         EliteW       s.t 

6     Emma Sonerson   U19W 2nd s.t 

7    Grace Sulzberger   U19W 3rd s.t 

9    Lisa Friend             U19W 4th s.t



Sunday 23rd April - Road Race #3 86kms 

Another early morning, an increase in temperature, and the final stage of the tour, forced me to drag myself out of bed for the final time. Our longest stage was to be the most eventful, with many girls trying their luck off the front on our out and back course, with just the one QOM less than 20kms into the race. Probably the most intense climb for the entire tour saw just 6 girls over the top together, including myself and Lisa Friend. But after just a few hundred metres of decent the field was once again together. A few unsuccessful attacks were launched by individual riders before the turn around came, especially from Kate Mercers team mates. Any non-Queenslander trying to escape was quickly bought back to the bunch. It was only 42kms into the race, when Mercer sent one of her girls off the front, that a break away win looked promising. Establishing an early 2minute lead on the bunch, Kate Nichols was forced to chase as her second place was being threatened. At 75kms we had sight of the break and once again it was inevitable that a bunch sprint would determine the winner. The last few kilometres were messy and I was content to sit back in the pack and roll to the line, confident that the yellow jersey was mine. For the elite women, the race was not yet over. Nichols, just 6seconds down on Mercer for GC contention, was forced to finish two places ahead of Mercer in the top 3 for time bonuses that would give her the yellow jersey. It looked from a distance that Nichols was going to do just that, as she had done so convincingly in the previous two stages. But a late charge from Emma Mackie saw her take the win for the Queensland girls, retaining the yellow jersey for Mercer.


Road Race 3 - 86kms 

1     Emma Mackie      EliteW         2:41:20 

2     Kate Nichols         EliteW          s.t 

3     Kate Mercer          EliteW          s.t 

4     Josephine Tomic    U19W 1st    2:41:20 

5     Courntey LeLay     U19W 2nd     s.t 

10   Lisa Friend            U19W 3rd     s.t 

11   Peta Mullens         U19W 4th     s.t


General Classification 

1     Kate Mercer              EliteW        6:32:24 

2     Kate Nichols             EliteW            + 01 

3     Josie Loane              EliteW            + 24 

6     Peta Mullens            U19W 1st     + 1:03 

7     Grace Sulzberger      U19W 2nd    + 1:05 

9     Tiffany Cromwell        U19W 3rd    + 1:12 

15    Lisa Friend              U19W 4th    + 2:19


QOM Bonuses 

1     Kate Mercer      EliteW     21 

2     Josie Loane      EliteW       7 

3     Kate Nichols     EliteW       6

All in all it was a good weekend. I walked away with my first two jerseys ever. Firstly, the leaders yellow jersey for the Canberra Womens Tour, and secondly, I am the current holder on the National Road Series Points Jersey after my performances on the weekend.




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