Australian cycling on the hunt for 'women with big engines'
Bid to bolster TT chances for Beijing starts now
Time trialling at such a level that specialism in training and approach required for success
Cycling Australia media release
Australian cycling is on the hunt for women for 'women with big engines' in a bid to bolster our time trial chances ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Australian women's cycling coach, Warren McDonald, says the women's time trial has moved to another level and to be competitive in the discipline requires a specialised approach.
McDonald was speaking at the 2006 UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Salzburg, Austria after Canberra's Oenone Wood and Victorian Kathy Watt finished 27th and 28th respectively in the women's time trial event.
"We've been just outside the top ten the last couple of years and today I thought both girls, if they had a good one, could finish in the top ten but the level has gone extremely high and in Australia at the moment I don't think we have a medallist time triallist," McDonald admitted. "But we always face challenges head on and the challenge now is for us to find one in the next two years.
"We'll do some studies and research and there are a number of sports that have shown they have been successful (crossing over to cycling)," he said. "Triathlon and rowing are a couple of big engine sports and we need to find a girl with very big engine that can ride fast for 30 minutes.
"We won't tell the other sports that we'll just tell them we'll do some research for them." he laughed when it was suggested he was planning to poach talent from other sports.
Wood, a two time World Cup Series champion, former world number one and bronze medallist at last year's World Championships in Madrid, agrees that to win the gold in the time trial means tailoring a training program specifically for the time trial something that is difficult for riders like herself who race for professional road teams in Europe.
"My focus for this week is definitely on the (Saturday's) road race and the training leading into this has been focussed on that," said Wood who claimed gold in the time trial at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games ahead of Watt and Queensland's Sara Carrigan as well as bronze in the road race. "(Even so) I was hoping I'd do a little bit better than I did today but I didn't have a particularly good day and I think with the quality of riders at this competition if you want to be up there in the time trial you really have to train specifically for it and have a fantastic day.
Wood finished the 26.12km course in a time of 38min06.77sec, a little over three minutes off the pace of the new World Champion, Kristin Armstrong, of the United States (35min04.89sec) with Karin Thuerig of Switzerland, the 2004 and 2005 World Champion, 25 seconds slower in second place and another American Christine Thornburn third at 29 seconds.
"Karin (Theurig) has dominated for the last couple of years and and today she beaten by one of the Americans who had two in the top three which shows it's a nation that's focussing on the time trial," explained Wood. "Australia might (hopefully) get a couple of time trial specific riders in the next few years."
Watt's time of 38min20.57sec was slower than she had hoped for and she says she will now go back to Australia and reassess her plans.
"I spent the year in Belgium with a trade team this year and did a lot of road riding so the training was quite different," said Watt. "Over there, by law, you can't ride on the roads you have to ride on the bike paths which makes it a bit difficult for time trial training.
"So I just have to go home and talk with the National Coach, Warren McDonald, and see what I should do and change for next year," she explained. "I was hoping to do well but I've been sick in the last few weeks and I couldn't do quite as many intervals and lost some valuable preparation so (today) was really as fast as I could go basically."
"The technical side and climbing was good but I just didn't have quite enough power."
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