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Vicky Whitelaw happy with Worlds debut performance
By Bart Hazen
Date: 9/24/2008
Vicky Whitelaw happy with Worlds debut performance

Vicky Whitelaw happy with Worlds debut performance

Canberra's Vicki Whitelaw has finished 16th in the time trial on debut at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Varese, Italy.

Whitelaw, 31, posted a time of 35min27.58sec for the 25.15km course which was 1min36.23sec off the pace of newly crowned World Champion, Amber Neben of the USA. Neben was one of only two riders to crack the

34 minute mark crossing the line in 33min51.25sec to claim gold ahead of Austrian Christiane Soeder who was 7.56sec slower. The bronze medal was claimed by Germany's Judith Arndt who completed the distance in 34min13.12sec.

"I gave 100 percent, the best I could do for where I'm at so I'm really happy," said Whitelaw after the race. "I couldn't have done any better and it gives me a lot of incentive to be up here with the best girls in the world and see where I can improve and where I can go from here."

Whitelaw, who is an exercise scientist and soft tissue therapist, won the National Road Series in 2006 and 2007 and claimed the Oceania Time Trial title last year as well. She was selected for the Australian team for the 2007 World Championships but had to pull out due to illness. This year racing with the Australian team in Europe she collected a win in the time trial stage of the women's Tour of Italy, the Giro d'Italia Femminile.

"This is my first 'world champs' and my first year riding overseas and consistently performing well and to finish off like this and culminate in the World Championships and finish in the top half (of the field) I'm really happy," Whitelaw said.

Vicky Whitelaw in action during the Hills Classic in August.
Photo 2008 Bart Hazen

The Varese course is literally down the road from the Cycling Australia-AIS High Performance Program's European base and Whitelaw says knowing the course certainly helped her today.

"For me I broke the course down into four sections so in the hill section I was trying to get under 12 mins and the ones on the podium were really fastest over that section," she explained. "The descent which is winding and quite techical but not too bad and not wet so we could really dig into that .

"Then the back section with the cobbles and then the home run where yesterday we saw through the tunnels a couple of the boys crashed so I was playing it a bit carefully there and then the final little rise over," she said. "I had it in my head broken down to make it more manageable."

The event was raced in perfect conditions with temperatures around 18 degrees celsius and no wind.

The reigning Oceania and Australian Time Trial Champion, Bridie O'Donnell, 34, clocked a time of 36min08.08sec to finish 23rd at 2min16.73sec off the winning time. O'Donnell, a sports physician who was a former rower and ironwoman, is a product of the Australian Sports Commission's 'Women with Big Engines' project that was created in September, 2006, to bolster Australia's chances for success in road time trial competition and says the conditions today made the course a lot quicker than the riders had expected.

"I don't really remember very much but it was quite painful and quicker than in training so perfect conditions really," said O'Donnell. "It was lucky the roads were dry so it meant you could really have a go on the descents."

Australia's third rider in the event was 23 year old South Australian Alexis Rhodes who placed 24th in 36min12.46sec and agrees prior knowledge of the course was an advantage.

"It was really, really quick and a lot quicker than in training and it was nice knowing the descent before coming into racing because you could pick your lines and have a real dig," said Rhodes.

Tomorrow three time World Champion, Michael Rogers, and reigning Australian Time Trial Champion, Adam Hansen, will line up for Australia in the men's elite time trial over 43.70 kilometres.

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