World Cup winner, World TT & RR bronze medals
Judith Arndt has had a very successful 2008. She won some tough stage races, the Tour of Greater Montreal, retained the title in the Rundfahrt Thüringen and at the end of the season, the Giro della Toscana. In-between, she won three World Cup races, was part of the winning team in the World Cup series and was World Cup champion in 2008.
Finally, in Varese at the World Championships, the German took bronze in both the time trial and road race. A disappointment in the year was her performance at the Olympics, where she found herself chasing the decisive break instead of in it.
WomensCycling.net spoke to Judith Arndt about these milestones in her year.
All did not go to plan she did not have the success that many predicted she would have hoped for. She had, after all, been tipped as a potential medallist. Was there any key factor in this?
"Yeah, that's right. I wanted the German team to win the road race, but we ended up with Trixi Worrack in 20th place. But really I think this is the interesting thing about road racing, too - its not that the strongest rider wins, it is more about team work, tactics, right decisions and communication. We were all in good shape, so I guess you have to look for the mistake somewhere else. For Trixi and me it is not easy coming from extremely well organised professional teams. Joining the national team feels like going two floors down with everything, from the way you get looked after by your staff to the teamwork in the race. I also guess it would have been helpful to have had a 3rd pure road racer, like Hausler, Keller or Teutenberg. Then blind understanding and trust would have been possible, and maybe we would have made better decisions and maybe we would have won a medal then" she said
I heard that Linda Villumsen and Christiane Soeder were in that break, I
knew the race was for 99% over for us. I tried all I could do to bring the
break back for Trixi. That was our last tiny little chance to still get at
least a medal. With Vos sitting in the bunch and this break away gold was
gone either way."
Arndt, is one of those unique athletes, who looks after her won coaching and development as a rider. Asked what her training schedule had been like for the last 12 months in the run up to the Olympic Games she said,
"It's not really possible for such a long period. It goes from no sports at all, up to 800kms a week. I raced a lot from February on. The great thing is it's my own choice. I like racing better than training. The problematic side is that it doesn't allow me to peak like other riders do. But in the end I earn my money competing at races for Team Columbia"
A number of riders compete in both road racing and time trial. Arndt was asked what she prefers as she has real strength in both disciplines.
racing. I don't think I am really a time triallist, and I don't like it
either. It is too specific and it requires specific training too, which I am
not willing to do. I like road racing much better, because it requires
cleverness, team work, tactics. It's various. It's like playing chess. Time
trialling is only 'head down and pedal'. That doesn't satisfy me anymore"
You took the World Cup series win in huge style, winning three races and gaining consistently high placings in the other races throughout the season. You had never worn the jersey before taking it over after the Berne round in May 2008. When did you / the team decide to target overall victory and how does it feel to have been successful?
"Well I hadn't worn the jersey myself before, but I was part of winning the World Cup 3 times before with 3 different riders, and it was always hard work. The team never really raced for the World Cup overall this year, we just tried to win the races, didn't matter with who of us. Of course in Sweden and Plouay we tried to get me to be in front of certain riders too, but the priority for the team was always to win the races themselves."
Your Bronze medal in the time trial was reported as a really surprising result to you, when did you know you had gone well? could you feel it during the race or was it a matter of sweating it out after the finish?
"I knew after the first intermediate time split that I was going good. My race wasn't really perfect, though. I took the few difficult corners like an idiot and really upset myself by doing that. But I could feel that I had power, so I just gave it everything. Then I spent some tortuous minutes on the 'hot seat' until [Kristin] Armstrong had finished."
How do you cope with the specific requirements of a time trial when you're fulfilling your contract as a professional rider by competing in the racing block you had in the lead-up to Varese, which included Grand Prix de Plouay, Holland Ladies Tour, Rund um die Nürnberger Aldstadt and Giro della Toscana?
"Sometimes I cope well, and sometimes it doesn't work out. When it doesn't work out I at least know the reason, so that's okay. I prefer road races over time trials anyway. But if I am in good shape I can get good results in time trials as well. I just can't win against riders that train specific for time trials. But you can't have everything in life."
The German team as a unit has had considerable success in recent years, beginning with your Verona victory (2004), then Regina Schleicher's win in Madrid (2005) and Trixi Worrack's silver in Salzberg (2006). Expectations were high for another impressive performance in 2008. Was there an impact on the team's race tactics resulting from the late withdrawal through illness of Ina-Yoko Teutenberg?
"No not really. Ina's job would have looked similar to Charlotte Becker's job on that course. And I think Charlotte really did a fantastic race. They are both really strong riders and reliable team players. But of course we all felt sorry for Ina. She was still part of the team though."
In the final stages of the World road race, Trixi and you attempted solo breaks, was this because you recognised the strength of the sprinters in the group?
"Exactly." she smiled.
Arndt is a World Class athlete, with potential to cross-over and achieve success in other sports, she was asked if she ever wished she had taken up another sport.
love cycling. Maybe sometimes I wish I was a soccer player, or part of some
other 'real' team sports, just because I like the team aspect a lot. How
satisfying it is to share a victory, or to achieve a goal together is the
biggest lesson cycling has taught me. I also feel comfortable on my skating
skis, but I think the winter and its temperatures would crack me in the end"
earn my money with racing for Columbia. Of course, Columbia would have liked
to have an Olympic Champion in their team too, so here and there I could
make compromises for the Games. But I am too competitive anyway to just race
for training reasons. I always want us to win and I want to be part of our
strategies. That's just how I am and how I have fun and I have proven to
myself that it is still possible to give a good performance at the year's
highlights, like Worlds or Olympics."
Arndt was asked if she had the ability to design the best team in the world what would it look like, she responded,
Columbia. Maybe I would add eleven more soigneurs, so every rider has their
Who has been her greatest inspiration recently and in the past?
"Recently it has been my cousin Alexander. He is only 19 years old and he has had a lot of health issues and other problems in his life already. But he always gets up to his feet again, and he is one of the happiest and most positive people I know. I can't really tell what exactly my greatest inspiration was. I can get inspiration out of a lot of people and things, not only sports."
Arndt has been at the top of her sport for many years and arguably still has a number of years left at the top, she was asked, what she would you say to a budding cyclist to inspire them to get started and continue in the sport of cycling.
"I think if someone wants to be a world class cyclist, they really need to love cycling from the bottom of their heart. Otherwise they wouldn't sacrifice so much. You really have to sacrifice a lot. It is not a job from 9 til 5 and then you are done. I believe the inspiration really has to come from inside of everyone."
Reflecting on what has been the greatest aspect of women's racing which Arndt has learned or observed in the last 12 months she said,
"I don't know what I have learned in the last 12 months really. But women's cycling gets more and more professional. Teams can pay better salaries, so their riders can really be professionals and don't need to work next to riding their bikes. Teams work together with coaches, nutrition experts, sports psychologists or other experts. Teamwork has improved a lot everywhere. Races are raced more tactical. All these things, are the things that push women's cycling to become more popular and interesting for both, athletes and sponsors."
You have had a great year is there any race you would have liked to have won and what will motivate you for 2009?
I would have liked to win the Olympics. That was my main goal this year, and
I didn't achieve it.
I usually don't have a problem with motivation at all. I like my job, I am a
competitive character, and I don't want to get dropped in the races, or be
useless for my team, so I will be eagerly training."
Thanks to Judith Arndt for this interview and all the best to her for a successful 2009
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